Nfsc Spreading......what Did I Do Wrong?

Baking By busymom9431 Updated 13 May 2008 , 3:59pm by MichelleM77

busymom9431 Posted 11 May 2008 , 8:39pm
post #1 of 23

I have made them before and don't remember having a problem with them growing out of shape. It happened today. I had the dough pretty cold (almost frozen) and it didn't seem to matter if the cookie was big or small. I rolled the dough 1/4 inch thick and the cookie cutters were anywhere from 1-3.5 I don't know what I did. I always measure my ingredients carefully and I was not in a rush today for once. Any advice from you cookie pros would be wonderful.

22 replies
DianeLM Posted 11 May 2008 , 9:27pm
post #2 of 23

Since it sounds like you did everything right, I can only think of a couple possibilities

First -- did you use margarine instead of butter?

Second -- have you checked your oven temp? This kind of problem can occur if the temp is too low.

Good luck. I hope you find the problem!

MichelleM77 Posted 11 May 2008 , 10:11pm
post #3 of 23

Fresh baking powder? Used baking soda by mistake? I don't know, just trying to figure it out with ya. Not sure what either of those things would do. We need a baking scientist here! icon_smile.gif

busymom9431 Posted 11 May 2008 , 10:52pm
post #4 of 23

I did use baking powder not soda. I double checked. I am not sure about the oven temp. I have never checked b/c I have never had a problem with any of my cakes or cookies before. I did bake them on parchment but I thought that was the right way to do it. I used good ol' butter not margarine! Thanks for the suggestions. I will have to go buy a thermometer and check my oven temp.

dandelion56602 Posted 12 May 2008 , 5:38am
post #5 of 23

I swear I hate that recipe. I like it the 1st time I used it & hated it every time after that---at least a dozen. You can check out the recipe I just submitted. (It's no spread sugar cookies, it hadn't come up yet as I typed this post--if it doesn't I can pm it to you) I absolutely LOVE it & it has never spread on me!

DianeLM Posted 12 May 2008 , 1:24pm
post #6 of 23

Oh, that's an idea -- check the expiration date on your baking powder.

golfgirl1227 Posted 12 May 2008 , 3:57pm
post #7 of 23

Over-creaming the butter and sugar. I do it often, when I stick it in the mixing bowl, turn it on, and walk off and get sidetracked. That being said, it doesn't take much time, especially if your butter is already super soft.

KHalstead Posted 12 May 2008 , 4:13pm
post #8 of 23

that recipe gives me issues what I do is sub half of the butter for shortening (melts at a higher temp than butter, aka/keeps shape) then I illiminate ALL of the baking powder (the flour is enough leavening) and I free the cookies before baking (so the outside cooks first, keeping it from losing shape) and last but not least....I never roll them more than 1/4 inch thick....the thicker they are the puffier and more spread out they get in my experience!

MichelleM77 Posted 12 May 2008 , 10:19pm
post #9 of 23

It's funny how we all do things differently because of different experiences. I only had a problem with spreading one time and I never figured it out. I use the recipe just as it is written. I sometimes cream the heck out of the butter and sugar. I also roll out 3/8"; like my cookies thick! No problems other than the one time.

ericaann79 Posted 12 May 2008 , 10:46pm
post #10 of 23

I have this problem all the time! I have never had a sugar cookie not spread on me. I loose the shape on all of them...but when I ice it I accentuate the shape to make the appearance better. Dandelion56602 can you PM me that recipe? I was thinking that I could re-cut the freshly baked cookies with the cookie cutter right out of the oven so I have the new shape back...would this work?

peanut123 Posted 12 May 2008 , 11:15pm
post #11 of 23

This may help explain why you had a problem that one time.

The two main variables in NFSC spreading are fat selection and dough consistency.

Assuming you are using butter (which you are) the fat content is fixed by government regulations and it is hard to get the measurement wrong.

âDough Consistencyâ is what can get people into trouble. What is a cup of all-purpose flour in the NFSC recipe? I use 140 grams AP flour per cup and have no spreading. Dandelion56602 uses 151 grams AP flour per cup (in the recipe she mentions above) and has no spreading. Some consider a cup of AP flour to be 120 grams, or less. A 20% difference in AP flour in the recipe has to make a difference.

Flour also has variable water contentâ¦freshly packaged flour contains ~14% water. Some of this moisture is lost during storage and it is also influenced by the relative humidity of the air.

Sometimes generic (typically the low cost stuff) âall-purposeâ flour is not what you think it is. In the push for low-bidders there is always the possibility that you could purchase an âoff-specâ or âmis-labeled bagââ¦that happens. icon_smile.gif

MichelleM77 Posted 12 May 2008 , 11:19pm
post #12 of 23

I weigh my flour to avoid any problems with consistency, but never thought it could be the flour because I used the same bag on different batches of NFSC and only had a problem with one. It was so frustrating! Thanks for the suggestions though (knock on wood, I haven't had that problem again!).

AnythingSugar Posted 12 May 2008 , 11:46pm
post #13 of 23

Did you use a different brand of butter? I used Wal-mart butter once and they turned out awful. It seems to me that their brand has more water but I might be wrong. I have made NFSC many times with great success except for that once. Since then, no more Wal-Mart butter for me.

JudyDP Posted 13 May 2008 , 4:07am
post #14 of 23

I've baked cookies for decorating a total of 4 times in my life. The first time was Christmas and I used the NFSC. It was so much fun and they turned out great...(for me)....I was hooked on cookie decorating. Since then, I have fought with the NFSC dough. I have weighed the flour, and lightly spooned the flour, and held my breath and prayed while spooning.....I have done everything. The only change I know is that I HAVE started using Sam's Club butter instead of Land O Lakes. Maybe that is it. Does anyone use Sam's butter? Could that be why they are spreading!!! Two minutes before the cookies should be done, I now re-cut every cookie. It's a pain, but I get what I want. So.....please know others are going through the same thing with spreading.........

bonniebakes Posted 13 May 2008 , 11:39am
post #15 of 23

Do you cut out the shapes and them move them to the cookie sheet or cut them on the cookie sheet? Could it be that as the cookie dough is being transferred to the cookie sheet they "stretch out?"

I use the NFSC recipe with minor alterations (less baking powder and more vanilla) and I don't have a problem with them spreading unless they aren't cold enough when I put them in the oven. And, I bake them longer and at a lower temperature than the recipe calls for.

how odd that so many people using the same recipe have such different results....

linedancer Posted 13 May 2008 , 11:54am
post #16 of 23

The only butter I use is Sams and have never had a problem with spreading. I cream my butter and sugar for 5 minutes, set the timer. I weigh my flour and sugar, make no modifications to the recipe, add about the last fourth of the dry ingredients by hand, it always works great!!

Ladivacrj Posted 13 May 2008 , 11:57am
post #17 of 23

I have got to agree with the butter theory. It seems that different brands contain different amounts of moisture.

I love the Giant Eagle brand butter it's always consistent. Last year became a member of a local restaurant supply store and their butter is very good so I've switched it and it's a heck of a lot cheaper, never over $1.90 a pound.

I have never had any problems the NFSC recipe not even once and I also use it as written.


MichelleM77 Posted 13 May 2008 , 12:23pm
post #18 of 23
Originally Posted by Ladivacrj

I have got to agree with the butter theory. It seems that different brands contain different amounts of moisture.

I love the Giant Eagle brand butter it's always consistent. Last year became a member of a local restaurant supply store and their butter is very good so I've switched it and it's a heck of a lot cheaper, never over $1.90 a pound.

I have never had any problems the NFSC recipe not even once and I also use it as written.


I love GE brand as well and that's all I've used until I switched to GFS brand a few times, still no problems, but it's not that cheap! Where are you shopping, if you don't mind sharing?

ALVARGA Posted 13 May 2008 , 12:26pm
post #19 of 23

After I have cut out my shapes and put them on cookies sheets lined with parchment I put the cookies sheets in refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Just enough time to rechill the dough. Then I bake them as instructed maybe giving them an extra 30 seconds or so. I have never had a cookie spread on me this way. Try it. Check out my cookies and you will see how they bake up perfert. icon_biggrin.gif

Ladivacrj Posted 13 May 2008 , 12:45pm
post #20 of 23


There is a Restaurant Depot that opened up down the street from my house about 2-1/2 years ago, I love the place.

It's on the way to and from work, creates a little problem because any excuse will do for me to stop in there.

peanut123 Posted 13 May 2008 , 1:00pm
post #21 of 23

You are partially correct. In the USA the moisture (water) difference for âregular butterâ is between the salted and un-salted butters.

+ salted butter has 15.87 wt% water (USDA average)

+ un-salted butter has 18.80 wt% water (USDA average)


For a standard NFSC recipe (with 2 cups of butter), this ~3 wt% difference is equivalent to 1 Tablespoon of water.

With all other conditions/ingredients being equal, un-salted butter will have a tendency to spread more than salted butter.

You can usually compensate for the additional water by adding more flour.

peanut123 Posted 13 May 2008 , 1:33pm
post #22 of 23

Another way that butter can add moisture to the NFSC dough is through condensation.

When you take the butter out of the freezer or refrigerator ⦠so that it can come-up to room temperature ⦠it will cause moisture to condense, especially in a humid kitchen on a humid day.

You will get even more added water if you let the butter warm-up in the metal bowl of your stand mixer. The cold metal surface is like a magnet for water vapor in the air.

MichelleM77 Posted 13 May 2008 , 3:59pm
post #23 of 23

Thank you! The only Restaurant Depot I know of is in the Independence area on Rockside Road.....will have to check and see if there is another one closer.

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