Monday, March 12, 2012

Merle's Kitchen - You let me astray....

 The Merle Baking Challenge... 7 days of Home baked treats
 Merle is a 70 year old lady from Western New South Wales who has been winning cooking competitions since she was 8 years old. 

After appearing on the Masterchef show in a baking challenge and winning with her Peach blossom cake, she has reached the dizzying heights of fame by releasing a cookbook of her tried and tested recipes... Being a new release book, it is only available from the Council library, on fast-back loan for 7 days and thus, I have limited time to try it out.
The first test was biscuits..... 

Anzac biscuits,  Rating: 8 out of 10
Quintessentially Australasian, they contain golden syrup ( a by product of sugar cane milling) and oats, as well as the usual core ingredients. This recipe won Merle the competition, and the only complement to the recipe was that but I did have to only put a small teaspoon full on the tray, as previous Merle's recipes had forewarned me, they spread out somewhat during the cooking process.

The result was not the crispy biscuit, mind you...more the chewy variety, but perhaps they should have cooked for longer.

Chocolate chip Biscuits  Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Once again Merle, you let me astray, as the cooking timings are not right, Merle... or is it the oven temperature? Whatever, despite following the recipe to the letter, with the exception of adding 1/2 white and 1/2 milk chocolate chips, they required far longer cooking time than envisaged.

Merle's oven is set to 160 degrees, which seems too cool for what I use to bake biscuits... And these spread out so much that they turned square when spread into an adjacent biscuit on the tray. Tasted alright but once again, the chewy and not the crispy there a reason of this? Some adjustment is necessary... Enter Mr. Google...

I found this reference chart on google search and it just might be useful....

Upon reading this, it occurred to me that the reason for the chewiness as opposed to the crispiness, is the sugar and or butter variety. I will also try a different tray in the oven  to see if this changes anything. Why oh why... I will ponder about this for some time...

Cookies - Problems and Solutions

Copyright © 2000 Sarah Phillips Sarah Phillips, Inc. All rights reserved.

Dough too sticky to rollDough is not thoroughly chilled or too little flour.Cover and chill dough.
Dough is too dryToo much flourDribble in vegetable oil until the dough reaches desired consistency.
Dough cracks when rollingDough is too coldCover dough and let sit at room temperature to warm slightly.
Cookies crumble and are dry and hardOver mixing the dough, over baking, dry fruit/coconut, too much water or a lack of fat. Excessive salt can also cause your cookies to be hard.Stop mixing when the dough is just mixed. Do not overdo it.
Soak dry fruit in water a few minutes to absorb some moisture so it won't take it from the recipe.
Measure salt using measuring spoons. Level top.
Cookies stick to baking panCookie sheets not prepared according to the recipe; Cookies are still hot from the ovenUse parchment paper to line pans. Or, lightly grease pan before using. (Note: cookies spread more on greased sheets so parchment paper is preferred.)
Let the cookies cool on the pans for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks.
Cookies break when removed from baking sheetsCookies are still hot from the oven.Let the cookies cool on the pans for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks
Cookies bake unevenlyDough was not rolled or portioned to a consistent thickness or size.Spring-release ice cream scoops are handy for forming drop cookies efficiently. They're available in a variety of sizes at kitchenware or restaurant supply stores.
Interior brown spots or spotsDevelop in small cookies — cooking begins below the surface spots and causes some areas to overbake.Lower oven temperature by 25 degrees F.
Cookies are oilyType of fat used.
Cookie dough was not chilled before baking
Too much fat.
Do not substitute shortening, stick butter or margarine for vegetable oil.
Margarine is softer and more oily than butter. Shortening is the best to use in this case.
Not enough flour.
Cookies fall apartUsed diet or whipped spreads. The products are full of air and water.Use stick butter or shortening.
Cookies too puffyAll shortening makes cookies puff.Use all butter or half shortening and half butter or all butter.
Bring the dough to room temperature before baking.
Cookies too flat; they spread and thin out while bakingDough was not properly chilled.
Pans were greased too much.
Dough was placed on warm baking sheets
Used a low-fat margarine.
Butter makes cookies spread if the dough is too soft before baking.
Use shortening instead of butter. Butter melts faster than solid shortening, cookies will spread more if made with butter. Even half butter/half shortening will melt more slowly than butter-only, so cookies made that way still spread less than if made with all-butter.
Use cake flour instead of all-purpose, it has more moisture and will therefore puff more (cookies will be softer and paler, though). Additionally, add in 1 to 2 tablespoons flour can sometimes cause cookies to puff more.

Acidic doughs and batters (such as those made with baking powder, which has acids and does not neutralize other acids in the cookie dough recipe) set faster, but do not brown as well (cookies will be puffier).Use baking powder (1 teaspoon per cup of flour) instead of baking soda; the resulting dough will set faster, be puffier, but do not brown as well.
Use parchment paper to line your cookies sheets with for less cookie spread.
Make smaller cookies, they’ll puff better.
Chill dough, form cookies and then chill on pans before baking.
Use bread flour for drier, crispier cookies (they will be darker, too). Bread flour absorbs more liquid from the recipe than any other type of flour. All-purpose flour can also make a crispy cookie, which will be more tender than a cookie made entirely with bread flour.
Cookies not chewyAll white sugar makes cookies crispier.Remove the cookies a few minutes before they are done, while their centers are still soft and not quite cooked through. The edges should be slightly golden but the middle will still look slightly raw.
Use 2 egg yolks instead of one whole egg, this will add some extra moistness to the cookies thus helping to be a bit more on the chewy side.

Using some high protein flour (such as bread flour) can make the dough hold together better, and can make a chewier cookie – but too much can make the cookies flatter and crisper – experimentation is needed.
1/2 brown and 1/2 white sugar will make for more chewiness. Use dark brown sugar (more molasses) instead of light brown sugar. It attracts more moisture from the air, and will make a chewier result.
Use baking powder (1 teaspoon per cup of flour) instead of baking soda; the resulting dough will make a chewier cookie (it will spread less, since it’s more acid).
Cookies aren't crispyType of fat used.
Brown sugar makes cookies chewier.
Bake cookies a few minutes longer than suggested and immediately remove them to wire racks to cool.
Make with all butter.
Replace the egg called for in the recipe with milk for a crispier cookie.
Use more white sugar than brown to give more crispiness.
A less acidic batter spreads more and cookies will be crispier. Substitute 1/2 teaspoon baking soda per cup of flour for the baking powder called for in the recipe. The cookies will also brown better.
Use a little bit more liquid in the batter; that will help cookies to spread more, and thus be thinner and crispier.
Substitute 1 tablespoon of corn syrup for 1 tablespoon of the sugar called for in the recipe; it will make the cookies crispier and browner.

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