Trying out new cookie recipes for the coming holidays has crossed your mind. Yet you have not decided because you’re not sure of how they will turn out as holiday treats. Actually, you can know, just by looking closely at the ingredients, with an understanding of how each called-for recipe item functions.
One thing to remember though, baking is an exact science. This means you have to follow measurements to a tee in order to arrive at the promised results. Still, by understanding the scientific action that every ingredient contributes to a cookie recipe, it will also give you confidence in making improvements, or even in thinking of remedies in case something goes wrong.
Find below how eggs, flour, sugar, butter, leavening agent, and salt work once they combine during the baking process.
Eggs and Their Function as Binders
Eggs provide the liquid that will bind, as well as moisturize all the dry ingredients.
They are also a major source of protein that helps in making cookies chewy when combined with the flour’s starch and protein content.
Now if you are worried that eggs come in different sizes and the recipe does not specify the size, be in the know that most cookie recipes call for large size eggs. Although size matters only if the recipe calls for extraordinary amount of moisture and protein in making a cookie dough.
Most cookie recipes call for large eggs. Substituting for egg sizes will matter, only if the recipe calls for as many as half a dozen eggs as binder.
Flour, Your Basic Dough Ingredient
The flour being your basic dough ingredient requires much attention, because the ratio of the flour required to the amount of liquid contribution of the egg and butter, determines the type of cookie dough. A flour with a higher proportion than the liquid provided by the butter will give the cookies a crumbly structure.
Now if the proportion of the flour is lower than the liquid content provided by the eggs, the outcome will be a fluid dough or batter; giving the cookies a cakey texture. Cookies that are intended to be crisp will also have higher flour ratio to the amount of egg or liquid required by the recipe.
Baking with whole-grain flour, likewise makes a difference since this type of flour will make cookies taste nuttier and chewier, albeit fuller in flavor.
Sugar – More Than Just the Cookie Sweetener
Aside from being the sweetener, sugar can also give the cookie a more crispy structure because they tend to absorb moisture. If the recipe calls for brown sugar, expect the cookies to be darker aside from being moist and at the same time crispy. This is mainly because of the molasses content of brown sugar.
During mixing, sugar added to the dough will not dissolve totally. The undissolved portion melts during the baking process, spreading out to soften and moisturize the cookie.
Fat – The Ingredient That Makes Cookies Flavorful and Tender
A cookie recipe that calls for butter or shortening will produce cookies with a tender structure. The fat tends to coat some of the flour ingredient; preventing the liquid from combining.
More importantly, adding butter as opposed to margarine or shortening, will give the cookie that melting characteristics preferred by most cookie lovers. More so, if the premium kind of butter is used because they are higher in butter fat and therefore more flavorful.
If the recipe does not specify butter to be salted or unsalted, the latter is a better choice. Keep in mind that all cookie recipes require some amount of salt but in controlled proportion.
Leavening Agents the Dough Acid Neutralizers
Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda), if this traditional leavening agent is called for in a cookie recipe, it is more for browning rather than for rising purposes. That is because leavening agents are capable of neutralizing acidic contents that tend to inhibit browning.
Salt the Flavor Enhancer
In any kind of recipe, salt is more than just the salty taste provider, as it also acts as flavor enhancer. Imagine a cookie without salt as secondary flavor, the taste will just fall flat and ordinary, as a sugary sweet baked goodie,