Help! Cookies are pancakes!


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I've been baking these chocolate chip cookies for years using the same recipe and never had a problem until now. When baking them they will flatten out to pancakes and of course make one pan size cookie. I thought that maybe the temp needed to be hotter so I tuned it up 15°F and the next batch did the same thing. I finally got out my IR gun and tested the oven and instead of being 350° like it should have been, it was only 267°. Is this the reason the cookies are flatning out like this? I attached a pic of my pancakes. I know, I need to use parchment paper, I ran out.
 

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I've been baking these chocolate chip cookies for years using the same recipe and never had a problem until now. When baking them they will flatten out to pancakes and of course make one pan size cookie. I thought that maybe the temp needed to be hotter so I tuned it up 15°F and the next batch did the same thing. I finally got out my IR gun and tested the oven and instead of being 350° like it should have been, it was only 267°. Is this the reason the cookies are flatning out like this? I attached a pic of my pancakes. I know, I need to use parchment paper, I ran out.

1) IR cannot take oven temperature. You need the temperature of the air in the oven chamber. IR cannot register air temperature. To test oven temperature do you need to preheat your oven for approximately 30 minutes with an oven thermometer in the center of the oven.

2) Higher heat caused more spread.


Baking stages of a cookie

  • 92°F butter melts
  • Butter is an emulsion of fat and water; butter separates at this temperature.
  • The water heats, then turns to steam.
  • The steam expands the dough.
  • 122°F (50°C) starch gelatinization begins
  • 144°F (60°C) protein denaturation begins.
  • 310°F (155°C) maillard reactions occurs.

When the oven is too hot, the fat melts too fast. The starch gelatinization and protein denaturation chemical reactions are necessary to set the structure of the cookie. If the fat melts too fast, the dough softens and spreads before the starch and protein reactions have a chance to set the structure.

Over creaming the butter and sugar will also contribute to the spread of cookies as it overheats the butter. Recipes incorrectly call for room temperature butter. Butter should be 65°F. Your finished dough temperature (temperature of dough after it is mixed) should not exceed 68°F. If the dough exceeds this temperature, the butter will lose its plasticity. I’ve written about this a dozen times on this site and don’t want to write about it anymore. But you can read the reasons why below



Stella Parks uses butter at 60°F. To be honest I used butter straight out of the refrigerator. What matters is the finished dough temperature. With experience you know what properly creamed butter should like. But 65°F should get you to the 68°F
temperature unless your kitchen is hot.



3) foil: foil is a conductor of heat. Using foil just made the baking sheet hotter. You do not need to place anything on the cookie sheet if you did not have parchment paper.
 
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Thanks for your response. I do believe I have the process down right(creaming and butter temp) since I've baked these cookies for years and just recently, about 3 weeks ago had 3 batches come out perfectly. I have a oven thermometer coming this week and I'll see what that tells me. I'll get back to you when I have the results.
 
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1) IR cannot take oven temperature. You need the temperature of the air in the oven chamber. IR cannot register air temperature. To test oven temperature do you need to preheat your oven for approximately 30 minutes with an oven thermometer in the center of the oven.

2) Higher heat caused more spread.


Baking stages of a cookie

  • 92°F butter melts
  • Butter is an emulsion of fat and water; butter separates at this temperature.
  • The water heats, then turns to steam.
  • The steam expands the dough.
  • 122°F (50°C) starch gelatinization begins
  • 144°F (60°C) protein denaturation begins.
  • 310°F (155°C) maillard reactions occurs.

When the oven is too hot, the fat melts too fast. The starch gelatinization and protein denaturation chemical reactions are necessary to set the structure of the cookie. If the fat melts too fast, the dough softens and spreads before the starch and protein reactions have a chance to set the structure.

Over creaming the butter and sugar will also contribute to the spread of cookies as it overheats the butter. Recipes incorrectly call for room temperature butter. Butter should be 65°F. Your finished dough temperature (temperature of dough after it is mixed) should not exceed 68°F. If the dough exceeds this temperature, the butter will lose its plasticity. I’ve written about this a dozen times on this site and don’t want to write about it anymore. But you can read the reasons why below



Stella Parks uses butter at 60°F. To be honest I used butter straight out of the refrigerator. What matters is the finished dough temperature. With experience you know what properly creamed butter should like. But 65°F should get you to the 68°F
temperature unless your kitchen is hot.



3) foil: foil is a conductor of heat. Using foil just made the baking sheet hotter. You do not need to place anything on the cookie sheet if you did not have parchment paper.

1) IR cannot take oven temperature. You need the temperature of the air in the oven chamber. IR cannot register air temperature. To test oven temperature do you need to preheat your oven for approximately 30 minutes with an oven thermometer in the center of the oven.

2) Higher heat caused more spread.


Baking stages of a cookie

  • 92°F butter melts
  • Butter is an emulsion of fat and water; butter separates at this temperature.
  • The water heats, then turns to steam.
  • The steam expands the dough.
  • 122°F (50°C) starch gelatinization begins
  • 144°F (60°C) protein denaturation begins.
  • 310°F (155°C) maillard reactions occurs.

When the oven is too hot, the fat melts too fast. The starch gelatinization and protein denaturation chemical reactions are necessary to set the structure of the cookie. If the fat melts too fast, the dough softens and spreads before the starch and protein reactions have a chance to set the structure.

Over creaming the butter and sugar will also contribute to the spread of cookies as it overheats the butter. Recipes incorrectly call for room temperature butter. Butter should be 65°F. Your finished dough temperature (temperature of dough after it is mixed) should not exceed 68°F. If the dough exceeds this temperature, the butter will lose its plasticity. I’ve written about this a dozen times on this site and don’t want to write about it anymore. But you can read the reasons why below



Stella Parks uses butter at 60°F. To be honest I used butter straight out of the refrigerator. What matters is the finished dough temperature. With experience you know what properly creamed butter should like. But 65°F should get you to the 68°F
temperature unless your kitchen is hot.



3) foil: foil is a conductor of heat. Using foil just made the baking sheet hotter. You do not need to place anything on the cookie sheet if you did not have parchment paper.
Norcalbaker59. I learned something from your post! I've been baking for years, just a home baker, but I never knew that cookie dough should finish at 68 degrees. Thank you for this information! There have been rare occasions where my spritz dough just was not pressing right, now I know why - incorrect temperature!
 
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I finally got a oven thermometer and it was 10° cooler than set so it was actually baking at 340 instead of 350°. On my next batch I will pay close attention to how long I cream everything and make sure I'm not getting things too warm.
 
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I finally got an oven thermometer and it was 10° cooler than set so it was actually baking at 340 instead of 350°. On my next batch I will pay close attention to how long I cream everything and make sure I'm not getting things too warm.


10° is pretty significant. Check your owner’s manual for instructions on calibrating your oven. If you don’t have the owners manual, contact the manufacturer customer service. They usually provide manuals online.

If it’s a relatively new oven you should be able to calibrate it.
 
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I was able to calibrate it and now it is spot on, or at least two of the thermometers I have say it's on.
 
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I have also had this problem: ie too warm cookie dough. Two solutions: refrigerate the dough once everything is in it. However, then it is hard to scoop because butter is hard when refrigerated. The other, which I prefer: Scoop the dough on baking sheets and then refrigerated those. Once I have time I can take them out and bake them right away.
 
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I have also had this problem: ie too warm cookie dough. Two solutions: refrigerate the dough once everything is in it. However, then it is hard to scoop because butter is hard when refrigerated. The other, which I prefer: Scoop the dough on baking sheets and then refrigerated those. Once I have time I can take them out and bake them right away.
I tried that last time by scooping the dough and then refrigerated for 1 hour....pancakes again!!! I'm now wondering if it's the Splenda substitute I'm using instead of real sugar(I'm diabetic) and the amount but I have used it before with success but I think I did cut back on it because it was too sweet for me.
 
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If the change is recent, it could have to do with water content in your ingredients. Butter especially has had a recent rise in water content as a way of hiding inflation.
 
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I tried that last time by scooping the dough and then refrigerated for 1 hour....pancakes again!!! I'm now wondering if it's the Splenda substitute I'm using instead of real sugar(I'm diabetic) and the amount but I have used it before with success but I think I did cut back on it because it was too sweet for me.
Sugar is a tenderizer, so it weakens the structure. But Splenda granulated sweetener can be used in baking 1:1 as a sugar replacement. So using less Splenda in the recipe shouldn’t cause the cookie dough to spread.

Flour and eggs are your strengtheners.

Are you using a strong enough flour? What is the protein content?

Are you using enough flour?
There is a difference between a Recipe and a Formula.

A recipe is a list of pre-measured ingredients and mixing instructions. The pre-portioned ingredients have no relationship to each other. As such, there is no way to control, scale, or manipulate the chemical reactions of the baking processes to ensure consistency or to change the finished product. So the results are inconsistent-product varies with the baker and varies from baker to baker.

A baking formula is the specific percentages (ratio) of ingredients by weight against a constant. All other ingredients are calculated against the weight of a constant value. The ingredient that is used as the weight for the constant value will change depending on the product.

A baking formula is the specific percentages (ratio) of ingredients by weight against a constant. All other ingredients are calculated against the weight of a constant value. The ingredient that is used as the weight for the constant value will change depending on the product.


In a meringue the constant value will the weight of the egg whites.

In baked goods like cakes, breads, and cookies, the constant value is the weight of the flour.

All ingredients in a cookie formula is developed based on the weight of the flour. Flour is always 100%. All the other ingredients will be calculated against the weight of the flour. T

For example, the flour in this formula is 100%.

The standard sugar for a chocolate chip cookie is 100% - 110%. If 250 g flour is used, then 250g - 275g sugar is used.

Standard butter in a chocolate chip cookie is between 60% - 70%.

250 g flour x .60 = 150

Egg is between 22% - 25%
250 g flour x .25 = 66

Etc.
———————-
125g brown sugar
125g sugar

Total sugars 100%

150g butter 60%

66g eggs 25%

4g vanilla extract 1.5%

266g all-purpose flour 100%

3.75g baking soda 1.5%

1.75g salt .007%

300g 60% chocolate, chopped 120%

This is what we call baker’s percentages. It is the most accurate way to bake.


So if your “recipe” is in metric weight, you can calculate the baker’s percentages. Knowing the baker’s percentages allows you to analyze the formula; revise the formula: scale the formula to any amount.

———————-

The finished dough after mixing should not exceed 68°F. If you are not in the habit of checking the butter temperature before creaming and checking the finished dough temperature after mixing, you should start.

The thermometer is an essential tool for baking. I use it religiously. You have to think of temperature as an ingredient. Temperature is vital to the final product. And we are constantly adding temperature.

Temperature of ingredients
Friction temperature
- whisking/stirring
- mixer
- folding
- kneading
Oven temperature
Cooling temperature
Ambient temperature
Refrigeration/freezer temperature


40C53E0B-CC11-4DEF-8011-B31317E762FB.jpeg
 
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