Thursday, February 3, 2011

Making Perfect Cut Out Cookies

Tips and Tricks for the Perfect Cookie

Tips and Tricks for  Perfect Cut Out Cookies

A major complaint regarding cut out cookies is they lose their shape in baking.   I’ve had quite a few customers refuse to buy detailed cutters because they are afraid the design will be lost when baked.   The problem lies in the recipe used, not the cutter.  Find a recipe that results in a cookie that does not “puff” when baked.  One of my favorites is Swedish Pepparkakor, a thin spicy cookie that holds it’s shape very well.

The type and amount of fats in a recipe effects the amount of spread when baked.  Recipes with butter or shortening will work much better than those using oil.  The more fat in a cookie, the more it will spread out as the fats melt in the oven.  

The flour  and sugar used also effects the outcome.  While most recipes call for  all purpose flower, bread and cake flour tend to produce cookies that spread less.  White sugar makes a crispier cookie than brown sugar does.  You may have to experiment to find a recipe that works for you.

One of the best investments I ever made was in a set of insulated baking sheets.  They allow air movement that helps the cookies bake evenly.  I’ve never had to grease mine and clean up is as easy as taking a wet rag to the sheet.  Jelly roll pans work well too.  Thin cookie sheets are the cheapest, but the hardest to bake on.  Parchment paper is another way to get great results when baking.  It not only helps bake an evenly browned cookie,  there’s no messy pans to wash afterwards!  Just throw it away.

Cold dough is another must for a good cut out cookie.  Separate your dough into manageable sections. Roll dough out between two pieces of parchment or waxed paper and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes.  You can also chill the dough before rolling it out but only take out a small amount of dough at a time to roll.  

For the actual cutting use metal cutters for a sharper, cleaner cut.  Dip the cutters in flour between cuts and pull the salvage dough away from the cut cookies.  Use a thin metal spatula to transfer the cookies to your sheets.  If you prefer, you can cut the cookies right on the parchment paper , pull the excess dough off and place to parchment paper, cookies and all on a sheet to bake.

Wash metal cutters by hand. Never put them in the dishwasher.  The harsh chemicals used in dishwashers can corrode the metal.  Dry thoroughly and store in an air tight container.  Hand wash cookie sheet also, especially if you have a lot invested in them.   Dishwashers are nice, but they are hard on your metal bake ware.

Now, decorate your cookies in what ever way you like and enjoy!

You might just find the cookie cutter you've been looking for in our Art Fire shop.  We carry over 300 styles and counting.  If you can't find what you want ask about a custom cutter.  We might be able to make it for you.

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