Which ingredient?

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by shimmer, Dec 3, 2001.

  1. shimmer

    shimmer

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    I recently made a cookie recipe from a book, and the dough ended up as a bunch of crumbles that wouldn't stick together instead of the "stiff dough" that was supposed to form. When I need to make dough stick together, what is the best ingredient to add more of, and why? Water? Milk? Butter?

    I know what I DO, but I don't know if it's right.

    :D ~~Shimmer~~
     
  2. momoreg

    momoreg

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    It REALLY depends what you think is lacking. Butter will make a cookie more tender, but it will spread more, and liquid will moisten the dough, yes, but if it's butter (or fat) that's missing, the liquid may yield a tough cookie (because you're using it to replace fat that's lacking). If you post the recipe, we can help you.
     
  3. shimmer

    shimmer

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    I think it might be a butter issue. Because... I decided to cook some anyway (I had to force it together) and they were okay tasting but as soon as they cooled were really "tough cookies."

    But if it is butter, how much more should I add?

    Lemon Poppyseed Cookies
    (From 365 Ways to Prepare for Christmas )

    1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    1 cup sugar
    2 tbsp poppy seeds
    2 tsp grated lemon zest
    2 cups flour
    pinch salt

    Here is what the instructions say:
    1. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in poppyseeds and lemon zest. Add flour and salt and mix well to make a stiff dough. (This was the first time I knew something was wrong!!)
    2. Divide dough in half and roll each piece in wax paper to make a cylinder about 2" in diameter, and 6 inches long. Refrigerate dough until firm, at least 4 hours.
    3. Preheat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets. Slice dough into rounds about 1/4" thick. Arrange about 1" apart on cookie sheets. Bake 12 minutes, or until edges of cookies are lightly browned.


    Okay, I'm counting on all of you more experienced bakers out there who actually understand the chemical side of things. Please explain to me the WHY, or I'll never learn anything!!

    You're great. Thanks so much! I wanted to try again, because even though they're a simple cookie the smell was wonderful.

    ~~Shimmer~~
     
  4. momoreg

    momoreg

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    That's basically a shortbread with WAAAYYY too little butter. My shortbread recipe uses a pound of butter to a cup of sugar, with a little bit more than a pound of flour.

    If you added liquid or eggs to it, that would ruin the delicate nature of shortbread, so just increase the butter, and you'll be in business.
     
  5. m brown

    m brown

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    I would add water.
    Whip butter and sugar together then add seeds and zest and then the flour and a tablespoon of water. If the dough does not come together immediately (within a few paddle strokes) add another tablespoon of water. Try not to over mix the dough and I would even, now don't quote me on this, add a pinch of baking powder with the flour to take away the toughness of the cookie.

    I was given a wonderful formula for short cookie dough (not a shortbread) one time and it needed a little liquid, when I added water it gave the dough to extra liquid it needed to knead well.
    :)
     
  6. kylew

    kylew

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    ¾ pound butter
    1 cup Sugar
    1 tsp. Vanilla extract
    3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
    ¼ tsp. Salt


    This is a shortbread cookie dough that has never failed me. You can do all kinds of things with it. I may have to try the poppy seeds and lemon zest :)
     
  7. w.debord

    w.debord

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    I'm with Momoreg on this one. Adding liquids to a short cookie changes it, then it's not short...not enough liquid could make it tougher. Instead of adding baking powder for your effect MBrown, consider using cornstarch with your flour....it works REALLY well in a short cookie!
     
  8. mudbug

    mudbug

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    Shimmer, you may find this article helpful in your cookie making endeavors:
     
  9. angrychef

    angrychef

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    Increase your butter to 2 sticks(8 oz.) and lower your sugar to 3/4 cup or even 1/2 cup and you'll have great shortbread cookies.
     
  10. marzoli

    marzoli

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    That article is EXACTLY what I needed!:bounce:
     
  11. mudbug

    mudbug

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    Marzoli,

    Glad you found it helpful.

    :)
     
  12. kimmie

    kimmie

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    I always find that type of information useful.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!


    :rolleyes:
     
  13. shimmer

    shimmer

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    I tried again. I changed the butter to 1 cup, and decreased the sugar. The dough wasn't as crumbly as before, but still didn't really come together, so I added water 1 tsp at a time (I think I ended up adding only 2 tsp) to make a nice dough.

    But the cookies are hard as rocks.

    What am I doing wrong? Has anyone tried the actual recipe out? It seems like the texture is grand before chilling. Maybe I should not do the chilling step?

    Also, although I feel slightly sheepish for asking, :blush: what exactly is the texture I'm looking for? I"ve had so many variations of "shortbread" in my life, I hardly know what is correct. I only know that these cookies that I am ruining are not right.

    Please help me! I refuse to just put it aside. I am so mad. I had to make a fudge recipe last week three times before I got it right, but it was so great once I had the ingredients changed around to work right, and I'd like to feel the same satisfaction with these stupid cookies.

    Thanks, y'all, for teaching me so much....

    ~~Shimmer~~:confused:
     
  14. isa

    isa

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    You should change recipe Shimmer, here are two:


    Lemon Poppyseeds
    36 Cookies

    1 1/2 cups bleached all purpose flour
    6 tablespoons poppyseeds
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup sugar
    zest peeled from 3 medium lemons
    1 cup unsalted butter
    2 large egg yolks
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract



    Soften the butter. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, poppyseeds and salt. In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla and zest, and scrape the sides of the bowl. At low speed gradually beat in the flour mixture, just until incorporated.

    Scrape the dough into a bowl and refrigerate at least for 1 hour.

    Place two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F.

    Measure level tablespoons of dough and roll them between the palms of your hands to form balls. Drop each dough ball as soon as it is formed. Place on a cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.

    Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the bottoms are browned. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking period.

    Use a small angled spatula or pancake turner to transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completly.

    If desired, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar for an attractive finish.

    Store in an airthight container at room temperature or in the freezer.


    From: Rose's Christmas Cookies



    Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
    40 Cookies

    2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1 large egg
    2 tablespoons poppy seeds
    2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon lemon extract


    Mix flour, salt and baking powder in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in egg, then poppy seeds, lemon peel and extracts. Mix in dry ingredients in 3 additions. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill 2 hours.

    Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Using 21/2-inch-diameter fluted cookie cutter, cut out cookies. Arrange cookies 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Gather scraps; reroll and cut out more cookies. Chill cookies on baking sheets 15 minutes.

    Bake cookies until edges just begin to color, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks; cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting and baking with remaining dough. (Can be made ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 1 month.)


    From: Bon Appétit
     
  15. momoreg

    momoreg

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    I'm tellin' ya, increase your butter. Butter is a tenderizer, and will change the 'hard as rocks' texture of the shortbread. Once your dough is mixed, roll it out to the thickness you want, THEN chill it for 30 min. or so before cutting it.

    On a side note, If you roll it out on parchment paper, you can flip the chilled dough upside down onto another piece of paper to unstick it, and make it easier to transfer it to a pan.
     
  16. w.debord

    w.debord

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    I'm right behind you Momoreg! YOU NEED MORE BUTTER! You went the wrong way Shimmer.

    Other important points: YOUR RECIPE SOURCE!!!!!!!!! With baking the most important part is the RECIPE. Unforunately not all baking recipes work and not all baking recipes are good tasting! If your going to make something start with the best most trust worthy recipe you can find from a well known baker. Now... if your a pro baker and you have the time and money to play around tweeking a bad recipe, go for it. BUT I hope you will consider taking the easiest route "go with a great recipe source"! I'd personally scrap the recipe your using now and start over.

    Their are bakers that we all know, they have wonderful reputations because they consistantly produce great recipes. Pulling recipes out of magazines and books written by not well known bakers leaves you vulnerable to bad recipes.

    I'd be happy to give you a great recipe. There are several types of shortbread cookies, what are you looking for? Or are you just trying to learn about them in general?

    Some shortbread cookies are rolled and cut into shapes before baking and almost always frosted for extra sweetness (they might look like a sugar cookie). There's a classic European shortbread which are kind of thick (baked in cake pans to hold their shape) and usually cut into wedges and pricked with a fork before baking (these taste good as they age) reg., chocolate, mocha or any flavor zest could be added, even poppy seeds. There's also thinner wedges (that are more American) that don't need pans to hold their shape and you can add mini chocolate chips or nuts to flavor these.

    P.S. The chilling stage isn't hurting your recipe.


    P.S.S. A great shortbread cookie doesn't have eggs in it!!! Their texture is dry when you bite into them. It can seem crumbly. But as you eat them you realize their tender and not overly sweet....their a perfect cookie for adults. Their taste because their made with only butter is subtle and buttery rich. When you add egg to them, they loose their crumble/flake and become denser and harder making them a rolled cookie not a shortbread.
     
  17. kylew

    kylew

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    While I agree that it can be fun to gussie up shortbread cookies (linzer cookies, chocolate dipped, pecans, lemon/orange zest) for me, there is nothing quite like a well made, unadorned shortbread:) Also some of us non-pros enjoy the tweaking process :)
     
  18. kylew

    kylew

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    One thing I see, regarding the butter/flour ratio is that it should approach 1:1. I'm looking at it interms of weight and assuming a 4 oz. cup of flour. Is this true of coincidence?
     
  19. panini

    panini

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    I was just reading through this post. I read through the little post on all the tips about what you need to do to make perfect cookiies.
    I've done a little baking and I must tell those who do occasional baking at home. Please don't read everything you see in print. I would alway's suggest that you follow recipes carefully and follow them according to the method and proceedure. Most published recipes from reputible people have been fined tuned and well tested. Altering recipes is not the way to go, that is why I did not appreciate the generic information about what certain ingredients do and how to alter recipes to your needs.
    If a recipe is not working for you, move on to another.
    The question was answered by Momo and DeBord. And sometimes the pro's don't always have the answers.Unless you have unlimited funds and ingredients stick to the recipes. If a recipe does not work for you then get creative in ways to use the mistake,bars,ice cream topping, etc.
    Just my 2 scents!!:D :D :D
    pan
     
  20. kylew

    kylew

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    Why does the top of my head feel as though it has just been patted?