Baking perfection: A note from Mother Rucker

Baking perfection: A note from Mother Rucker

The craving hits and all you can think about are your favorite homemade cookies – immediate action is required. You head to the store and select the perfect ingredients, drive straight home (heaven help anyone in your way), and when you open your front door everything else ceases to exist – you’re singly focused on creating cookies. You’re on your game, mixing up the dough like a world-class master baker, lovingly placing each portion on a baking sheet. Then it’s into the oven for the magic to begin.

You hang around the oven pacing back and forth, staring through the glass as if your impatience could actually make them bake faster. Your mouth is watering and you’re anticipating the first bite of that warm, just-made cookie.

“Ding!”

The oven timer alerts you that they’re ready! They’re ready!

You crack open the oven door for your first whiff of that familiar, intoxicating, comforting smell – it’s pure glee! And then…horror. Your once perfect little pieces of dough have spread into one gigantic misshapen thing. Or worse yet, have transformed into little black hockey pucks that are hardly recognizable as cookies. It’s unnatural – this isn’t fair!

So, how to avoid cookie disasters and bake to perfection?  Here are a few sweet tips to get you started on the right path.

Preheat. Be sure to preheat the oven for at least 15 to 20 minutes (let the oven heat up while you’re preparing your cookie dough).

Pan choice. Choose light-colored and very heavy metal cookie sheets that don’t have sides; this will help prevent the bottoms of the cookies from burning and ensure easy removal.

Spacing. Leave enough space between each dough portion and the pan edges to account for expansion and spreading during baking.

Halftime show. Rotate your cookie sheet halfway through baking to get evenly baked cookies.

Avoid the burn. Think of the stated baking times in the recipe as a “guideline”. Your oven may bake a little quicker or a little slower – so err on the side of caution and check on your miniature delicacies 3-5 minutes sooner than the recipe suggests. You can always keep baking until they test done, but if they burn there is no turning back (trust me; even the dog won’t eat a burnt cookie).

As with most things worthwhile, a little patience and a bit of practice will pay off in perfectly baked cookies.

Gotta go – my oven timer just went off!

Sweetest Regards,

Karel Rucker
(aka Mother Rucker)