Cookie lovin' dopers--need baking advice

Hello all,

I have a tendancy to need to keep my hands occupied, and since I’m (sadly) without studio space at the moment, this means I’m doing a lot of baking. Yes, I’ve becoming a regular cookie-producing fiend. I’m making sugar cookies, peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip, oatmeal chocolate chip, and even chocolate-peanut butter. I visited Mr. Armadillo’s lab the other day, and one of the other grad students identified me as “hey, you’re the one who bakes all the cookies, right?”

Meanwhile, I’m having this issue where the bottom of my cookies are burning. If I pull them out of the oven the instant before the bottoms blacken, when they’re just nice and toasty brown, the tops of the cookies are still nearly raw. What’s the problem, here? Is the temperature guage on my oven reading inaccurately? It’s a brand new, digital stove. Are they too close to the bottom burner? I generally bake two cookie sheets at a time, one on the lowest rack and one just above, and I rotate the pans halfway through the baking. Nearly all the recipes call for 350*, but I notice that they usually take a bit longer to bake than the recipe claims–anywhere from a third longer to twice as long, depending on the recipe.

Any thoughts?


My mother taught me to only bake cookies on the middle rack of the oven. Either put your two sheets of cookies side-by-side on this upper rack, or only put one in at a time and let the other sit on the counter for the ten, fifteen, twenty minutes it takes for the first batch to bake - it won’t hurt 'em.

Hmm, that’s good to know. I guess maybe they’re too close to the heat source, so the bottoms are cooking way faster than the tops. Any idea why they take so much longer to cook than the recipes say?

You might try on oven thermometer to make sure your thermostat is correct. Also, you can bay air-bake cookie sheets. These have two sheets of metal with air between them. It’s almost impossible to burn cookies using air bake pans. I have a couple of them. Remember, too, that the cookies continue to cook even after you take them out of the oven because the cookie sheet is hot, so even if it seems that they’re only half-done, they will still cook a little more. racinchikki is right - using only one pan at a time is best, to allow better air flow in the oven.

Try these and report back, okay?


I know they continue cooking a bit, so with some recipes a bit squidgy on top is okay–I pull out the pans, leave them on some trivets, and come back to check ten minutes later and they’re perfect. But the last few batches I’ve baked, if I pull them out soon enough to keep the bottoms from actually burning, the tops are still raw. When I say raw, I don’t mean yummy, softie cookie, I mean, “Is this uncooked-egg-containing-cookie-dough going to be safe to eat after a couple days of festering in the cookie jar?” raw.
I have dutifully taken notes, but I baked a batch tonight, so it may be a couple days before I have more data to report :slight_smile:


By the way, I was bitching to Mr. Armadillo about this problem, and his response was “Well, why don’t you go consult the Font of all Knowledge™?” Smart boy, that :slight_smile:

They might take longer because you are making larger cookies than the recipe says.

Also, when you switch the cookies on the racks, that involves openning the oven door for a while, which significantly lowers the temperature inside the oven.

And then the wonderful third explanation, maybe the recipe’s wrong, lol

By any chance, are you putting the raw dough on sheets that are still warm from the batch before? That was my problem with cookies forever-and-a-day, until my wiseass mother-in-law said, “Hey, DUH! You’re pre-cooking the bottoms here!”

I’d also recommend buying an oven thermometer - my oven was more than 50 degrees off.

Wry: Generally, no, as my batches generally work out to about a dozen cookes, divided between my only two good cookie sheets, which go into the oven at the same time. This corroborates frank’s first point, as I’m always irritated when the recipe says “yields twelve dozen” and I end up with six cookies. Are most people making teentsy, bite sized cookies? My cookes generally end up about the size of my palm, and do tend to yield about half of what the recipe says. Except this one time when I attempted something called “amish sugar cakes” and put down my standard size blob of dough. I ended up with gigantic, sugarcookiesque, pie-plate sized pancakes. Mr. Armadillo was unecessarily amused at my culinary tragedy.

Gawd, I’m getting nothing right, here. Maybe I should take up a new hobby.

Are you using dark colored cookie sheets? I had that problem until I switched to the light aluminum ones. You can try doubling up the cookie sheets or using aluminum foil. The oven thermometer is a good suggestion, too - the oven in my old apartment would swing wildly by about 100 degrees. Also, the circulation in the oven is important. Two cookie sheets is probably enough to block the air flow and maybe fool with the thermostat.

Yup, they’re non-stick and very dark gray, almost black.

checks off another mistake :frowning:

Not a mistake, a learning experience.

There is a utensil that allows you to drop cookies onto a cookie sheet one-handed. I’ve found that it helps me keep them about the size the recipe recommends. My mom taught me to use two teaspoons (the kind you use at table), one to scoop with, the other to push the dough onto the cookie sheet. That also makes them about the right size.

My best guess is that if you use the center rack and only do one cookie sheet at a time, you’ll be fine. But do check the oven thermostat. Especially if it’s new. It might not be set right.

The dark metal cookie sheets and the large size of the cookies are the biggest part of the problem, I’m guessing. Parchment paper is a very good thing and can help somewhat with the dark cookie sheet part. It also makes it trivially easy to get the whole batch off the cookie sheet (which is still cooking your cookies until you get them off it) and onto a cooling rack nearly instantly (and to get that second batch onto the cookie sheet and into the oven almost as quickly). It’s the only way to fly, particularly with delicate items like macaroons and meringue cookies.

My mom got a miniature ice-cream scoop for her cookies. Now they are all more or less uniform. She also uses regular dark metal baking pans for her famous chocolate chip cookies, although she uses parchment paper on them to facilitate removal. (For lighter cookies, like sugar or butter cookies, she uses airbake pans, still with parchment paper.)

Where do you get parchment paper for baking? Is it something I can pick up at the grocery store, or is it a specialty sort of thing? I’m assuming it’s not the same lambskin style parchment I’ve used elsewhere.

Those air-bake cookie sheets St. Germain mentions will help your problem 300%. They’re GREAT! I’ve left cookies in the oven for 20 minutes accidentally without burning them.

Also, I second (third? fourth?) the thermometer idea. Most cookie recipes will not leave your cookies raw unless your oven’s off, and ovens are frequently off. Mine is just a few years old, but I know it’s off (even though I can’t find my dang thermometer to verify it).

FYI: I’ve never had problems making cookies that are larger than the recipe says.

Cooking parchment is available at grocery stores. Here’s a tip concerning rack, and consequently cookie sheet placement. The higher the rack is in the oven, the more the tops will brown. Sugar cookies, shortbread, peanut butter cookies etc. that you want a bit of a golden edge should be placed closer to the top of the oven. Other types that you don’t want to color up, gingerbread, CCC’s, etc., put them more towards the middle. Avoid the bottom of the oven area, you’re just askin’ for trouble. You really just can’t take a standard recipe, and make larger size cookies in most cases. Find a recipe that is what you want. Try lowering the oven temperature a notch, the cookies will be done, but won’t char as easily. ALWAYS underbake, as suggested above, this takes a bit of experimenting. Write down what eventually works for you. Future batches will turn out to your liking, and future cookie eaters will love you for it. If you underbake, let cookies cool for for at least a minute, perhaps two. Squishy cookies will firm up and be much easier to handle. Cookies that cool down too much are tricky to remove, and sometimes shatter. The parchment will help here. We’re coming into THE cookie baking time of year, get it together and you won’t mind turning out a batch or two whenever the spirit moves.

Airbake pans are great, but they tend to make the cookies spread out more in my experience. I’ve had great successes with dropped cookies, and great failures with shaped or cookie cutter recipes.

Well, it appears Mr. Armadillo went on a late-night cookie mission last night, and didn’t put the top of the (airtight) cookie jar on correctly, so our kitchen was invaded by a giant, marching horde of ants :mad:. Looks as though I’m going to be doing that experimenting a bit sooner than planned.
It sounds as though my biggest problem is putting in two pans at the very bottom of the oven. MamaArmadillo isn’t much for baking, so I’m learning these things as I go.
Off to make some cookies, will report back shortly!

I also highly recommend silicone baking inserts to combat the uneven cookie baking problem (Silpat is one brand name that I know of).

They are about $10.00 (you can find them on the or at any decent kitchen store) and they last forever.

The philsophy is the same as parchment paper…but you can use them over and over…

Hmm. It appears there’s something else amiss. I just finished cooling the first sheet (second one’s still in the oven). The edges were a nice, slightly dark golden brown. The sides of the cookies are done, even a little darker than I’d like, but there’s about a one-inch circle in the middle that’s still raw dough. Hrmph.