Okay, this may be part plea for help and part vent. I have an order for Friday for 50 cookies. I have already made four batches of dough (NFSC three times and Khalstead's once) and they all spread. I have no idea what I am doing wrong or what I'm using wrong but here is what happened. I am using marg as that is what my client wants.
Batch One - I made the NFSC I used cold marg and the cookies spread a tiny bit - (I have made NFSC before and they have never spread) - so I gave the rest of the dough to my kids to play with thinking that the next batch would be perfect. I decided that because these spread I would cut the b. powder on the next batch.
Batch Two - I got the marg to room temp, creamed my marg and sugar, added eggs and flavoring and then accidentally dumped the whole bowl of flour into the creamed mixture (I only put in 1/2 Tablespoon b. powder into the dry mix). Okay, I think that this is not the end of the world - the cookies might be tough but it'll work. Right? NO!! They spread even more than the first time.
Batch Three - Khalstead's recipe - this was a complete disaster. I followed directions and after three cups of flour the dough felt beautiful. Not sticky, not partical-y, but exactly what one would want their dough to feel like. I let the dough rest, rolled it out, refrigerated it, cut it, and then stuck it in the oven. They came out thin and large. Way large (not in a good way).
Batch Four - I made NFSC. Again. This time I got the marg to room temp, creamed it with the sugar, added the eggs and flavorings. Added the first addition of flour and salt (no b. powder)...and realized that I only used 1.5 cups of sugar instead of two. I added the last 1/2 cup at that point (and then continued with the recipe) but the dough remained grainy. These cookies spread - not as much as batch three but not as little as batch one (which my kids had used already).
What am I doing wrong? Is this a sign that I should not have taken this order? It's for a non-profit that does good work so I gave them a great price. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!!
edited to fix a typo.
What brand/type of margarine are you using?
I have been using Fleishmann's (sticks) unsalted.
I use Blue Bonnet in my NFSC, chill dough for an hour, roll cut, chill another hour and then bake and the cookies come out perfect
Hope you figure something out
Try baking them on parchment paper as well. My cookies used to spread all of the place but when I made them this weekend I baked them on the parchment paper. Not one spread, they look exactly as they did when I cut them out.
how long are you refrigerating the dough before cooking it? I put mine if fora t least 2 hours, then (if it's particularity humid or if my kitchen feels warm) I pop them back in the fridge for 15-20 minutes after I cut them sometimes.
I use butter, but I wonder if the water content of the margarine is helping them to spread....
I use" I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" for baking in my NFSC and omit the baking powder and they rarely ever spread.I also bake on parchment paper.
Thanks for your replies. I cannot use blue bonnet as it does have some traces of lactose in it and that's a no-go for her.
I use parchment paper all the time! I've gone thru two rolls in the past couple of days
I've refrigerated the dough overnight - after it was cut and that didn't help. I'm thinking that it may be the brand of margarine. I'm going to try one last time and if that doesn't work, I'll cry.
Also, I got up this morning and saw that my cookies look a tad under-baked (what is wrong with me this week?? ). I've never tried re-baking a cookie but would I be able to?
Oh, another thing you could try if they spread a lot again, when you take them out of the oven, cut them with the cutter again. Not the perfect solution, but at least you would have the shape again.
If you made 3 batches and they ALL spread, then you need to add more flour. Using the exact amount of ingredients over and over will only render the same results. The recipe is obviously not working for you. The dough is too "liquidy". Fix it. It's ok to deviate from the recipe. I've not used your brand of margarine, but it may have a higher water content than others, which would contribute to your problem.
I also use margarine (Imperial ... the one in the gold box. Cheapest brand in the store!). If the butter is straight from the 'frig, I nuke it for a few seconds to soften it up. I cream butter and sugar (I call all sticks of yellow fat "butter" so dont' get confused, here) then just throw in all of hte dry stuff. I dump it all in at once.
I never refrigerate the dough, unless I have some leftover, and if I DO work with leftover dough, I bring it to room temp first. No scientific reason .... I just don't like working with big, cold, hard balls of dough that I need to roll out. It's easier when it's NOT cold and hard.
Cookies go straight from the cutting board to the oven.
Being a "until it looks right" cook/baker, I eyeball my dough and can tell if it needs more flour to get to the right consistency. I view a recipe as a nice little guideline to get us started!
I'm with Indy... it needs more flour. I use a different recipe (although I'm sure you don't want to try another one) and sometimes it takes 4.5 cups of flour and sometimes it takes 5 cups to get it to the right consistency. I have found my dough has to almost be crumbly (like it won't come together until I squish it and roll it out) in the mixer. Then my cookies retain a nice crisp edge. I do roll my dough out immediatley after mixing and cut the cookies then pop them in the freezer for 10 or so minutes (basically while another batch is baking). Not sure if this is helpful but I do feel your pain. I have done this before; going thru different recipes and having no luck and not knowing why. I, too, tried khalstead's recipe and had them spread and thin out like crazy. I've never tried nfsc.
Thanks guys! What is bugging me is that I have been working with NFSC for a few months and have never had a problem! I don't know if it's just lack of sleep (new baby) or my preggo-brain has not gone away yet but I just can't seem to get it right. I will try to add more flour although the dough is fairly crumbly when I'm done mixing. I will keep you all updated. Again, thanks for the suggestions and assistance.
My genius husband figured it out tonight. Someone (not gonna point fingers here) was playing with the oven last week and accidentally calibrated it down 30 degrees. So, I was baking at 320. I think that might have done it. I'm going to have to wait for the next order to find out. Thanks all, again, for your insight!
If you over beat cookie batter they will spread real thin.
also I use I can't believe its not butter...............the best in my opinion
devorie dear. I say junk the cookies..and feed them cupcakes instead!! You must have the patience of a saint to make that many batches of cookies.
on a separate note.. when i read about preggo brain.. the first thing I thought was... Postpartem cookie maddness...which resulted in me snorting diet moutain dew through my nose. Thank you for that.
oh, I hope you got it figured out, it was the oven temp, and you don't have this problem again!!
I once tried using 1/2 cup shortening along with the other 3 sticks of butter and that was a real spreading disaster. I buy all my butter when it is dirt cheap and freeze to save myself some money. Like 20 pounds at a time, but would really like to try the margarine again.
If Imperial is good enough for indydebi, then I will give that a try next time around.
I'm sure the oven temp had something to do with your problems too, but the recipe may be part. I know you said you usually use NFSC, but you usually make it with butter. The margarine will change the consistency of the cookies, depending on the margarine. Like the others said before, you need to "tweak" the recipe to fit the ingredients you have to use, definitely more flour !! Good luck and I hope your next batch turns out perfect!