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Old 05-10-2011, 03:47 PM   #1
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Rolled cookies spreading and going lumpy

Hi everyone,
I am wondering if anyone has advice on how to prevent my rolled cookies from puffing unevenly or spreading too much. I have succeeded in making my sugar cookies nice and smooth by chilling dough, using parchment paper for rolling out dough (so that i don't add any extra flour) and then freezing the cutout cookies before baking, however this hasn't worked for my shortbread cookies. I have had several attempts now and, while they taste delicious, they spread too much and have a lumpy surface during baking. I've seen so many shortbread recipes online with pictures that show perfectly smooth cookies that maintain their shape, but mine just don't look like that. I'm using the traditional 3:2:1 ratio of flour to butter to sugar and really enjoy the taste and texture of this recipe (i just don't like the appearance) so I would like to avoid changing the ingredients. My thought would be to bake at a higher temperature for a shorter amount of time to prevent the cookies from spreading too much but most shortbread recipes suggest a temperature of 275 F to 350 F. I tried 350 F for 10 min and they were a bit too brown at the edges and still puffed up a little in the middle. Should I try baking them at 400 F for maybe 6 min? I would also liked to try using a cookie press or making spritz cookies but I am worried that they won't maintain their shapes and will just end up as blobs! I've started using an oven thermometer as I thought maybe my oven wasn't heating up enough. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am starting to get frustrated with my "blobby cookies!"

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Old 05-10-2011, 03:58 PM   #2
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The shortbread cookie recipes I've looked at all call for a spring form pan and scoring the top before baking so it can be made into wedges, or pressed into some sort of mold to contain the dough. Just as you described, they advise not letting it free-flow like ordinary cookie dough.

Just a thought.
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Old 05-10-2011, 04:06 PM   #3
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Can't help with the cookie dough. But I wanted to
Welcome you to DC

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Old 05-10-2011, 04:49 PM   #4
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I used this recipe: Pecan Shortbread Cookies. I used whole grain wheat flour. I patted out the dough and cut into squares and baked it on a cookie sheet. I had no issues with spreading or rising.
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:17 PM   #5
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Not to advertise my blog, but I go through the physics of cookies fairly thoroughly in the blog. Here's the long and short of it. If you are using butter in your cookie dough, as it melts, it spreads out. So, using less of it will allow your cookies to better hold their shape. For instance, in the famous Toll House Cookie recipe, cut the amount of butter in half, and substitute baking powder for baking soda, and your cookies, if flattened into thick disks before cooking, will puff evenly, giving you a lighter cookie. The sugar still caramelizes, giving you the chewy texture. If you then take that same batter that has half the fat, and uses baking powder, and add 3 tbs. of water to the batter, this will start to bind the starches and proteins together. Your cookies will be very fluffy and light, with an almost cake-like crumb. They will be very soft if you cook them for about 9 minutes. As they bake longer, they will take on the texture of vanilla wafers, light, but crispy.

Short bread is basically a sugar cookie dough with lots of butter. It is baked in a cake pan to keep it from spreading out. Again, the length of cooking time will determine the final texture of the shortbread, with the product becoming harder and crispier as it is baked longer.

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Old 05-11-2011, 02:16 AM   #6
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I think that generally the more you beat the butter and sugar together, the more likely they are to spread. I would just mix the butter and sugar until combined and not creamed.
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:03 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for your advice! Has anyone ever tried baking shortbread at 400 F for a short amount of time as apposed to a slower,lower temp bake?
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:00 AM   #8
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Baking shortbread:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place upside-down (grooved edge should be at top) collar of 9- or 9 1/2-inch spring-form pan on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (do not use spring-form pan bottom). Press dough into collar in even 1/2-inch-thick layer, smoothing top of dough with back of spoon. Place 2-inch biscuit cutter in center of dough and cut out center. Place extracted round alongside spring-form collar on baking sheet and replace cutter in center of dough. Open spring-form collar, but leave it in place.
  3. Bake shortbread 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees. Continue to bake until edges turn pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove baking sheet from oven; turn off oven. Remove spring-form pan collar; use chef’s knife to score surface of shortbread into 16 even wedges, cutting halfway through shortbread. Using wooden skewer, poke 8 to 10 holes in each wedge. Return shortbread to oven and prop door open with handle of wooden spoon, leaving 1-inch gap at top. Allow shortbread to dry in turned-off oven until pale golden in center (shortbread should be firm but giving to touch), about 1 hour.
  4. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool shortbread to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut shortbread at scored marks to separate and serve.
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:56 PM   #9
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Hi Everyone,
Thanks again for all your replies. I tried the shortbread again today (did some experimenting with different baking times and temperatures) and they were delicious. Still a little lumpy (I am maybe being too much of a perfectionist) but I think I will just have to live with them the way they are. I was aiming to get them to look like the photo on the website where I found a shortbread recipe but I can't think of any other way as it seems I have tried everything! Here is the website Shortbread Cookies Recipe & Video - Joyofbaking.com *Tested Recipes*
Is anyone else able to get their shortbread or sugar cookies this flat and perfect looking?
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:26 PM   #10
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The thing I noticed from your listed link is that all of the short breads were either baked in a form, or cut out with a cookie press. None of them were free-form like an ordinary cookie.
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