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12/08 My Method for Efficient Cookie Forming

opinionatedchef Dec 21, 2008 04:42 PM

There is now a Chow Tip video that teaches using a cookie scoop for making cookies. I completely disagree that scooping is the best solution. After 40 years of thinking inside the box about this issue, I have broken through the box walls and developed an alternate technique. I am always looking for the most efficient way to do things and here is what i have developed for cookies. You may think it 'takes the fun out of it' but I enjoy being efficient and I like exercising my math mind.
I came up with this because I always make a large cookie batch so I can freeze extra dough for the future.

This method is really very simple and once you try it, it's easy to incorporate into your routine:

Roll 10 balls of cookie dough to your ideal size. Weigh them and figure their average individual weight. Note how many would fit properly on your fav. baking sheet and multiply that number by their individual average weight.( For many of my cookies, that total weight is 13 oz.)
Now weigh out that amount of dough and ,on a piece of saran, pat it into a rough rectangle about 1/2-1" thick, and wrap up in saran. Chill at least an hour. Follow with rest of dough.Freeze whatever you're not going to use now.

After chilling, open the saran and mark and cut the cookie dough rectangle into a grid to yield your ideal number of cookies. Let the dough soften a bit, and roll into balls. A tiny bit of adding to or taking away may be needed to get them sized equally. Arrange them on your sheet and bake!

This technique is much more efficient than scoop and release, or scoop and release, and roll etc. And with this method, you can know how many a package will yield, so make and defrost accordingly!

  1. Richard 16 Dec 25, 2008 11:38 PM

    No offense intended. but where have you found cookies within a few grams of each other - especially cookies with lumpy stuff in the dough? Scoop and dump is so much faster and easily as precise per cookie. Just make sure the scoop is full and flattened if that is important to you.

    If you like, do what we did in a natural foods bakery: have a scale as precise and accurate as you need, scoop, weigh (we did this with bread dough) - and before long you can do it by eye.

    Another approach is to take a known weight and shape, chill, mark, and cut with the cutting wire of a cheese board. Still not faster than scooping.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Richard 16
      opinionatedchef Dec 26, 2008 01:51 PM

      You must have missed this post of mine:
      "you know,north, i actually do not care about the cookies being exactly the same size.(i am far from compulsive.) I really developed this method so that I could make multiple batches at a time and freeze them in packages that i knew would yield an approximated number. and because it's SO much faster to cut and roll than to scoop . and because freezer space is always at a premium for me, 'batch cook' that I am (stacked flat rectangles of dough take up much less space than balls of dough.)"

      As to speed, all of you, any day I would match the speed of my turning my rectangle of cookie dough into rolled cookies v.s. your scoop and release method. Proving it theoretically, all you have to think about is the number of times you make a movement (scooping and releasing)and the distance your hand has to travel all those times. One could make the same 'distance and number of handlings' analogy by imagining me chopping a pile of pitted olives v.s. you picking up one pitted olive at a time and cutting it in half and putting it down. That was one of the few parts of business school I enjoyed- Operations Analysis- which looks at designing efficiency in manufacturing. So, come on, Richard et al, put on that Toque and come on over! We'll call in an impartial CH referee and.. Ding!!!

      But then again, maybe I'm wrong!!...............

      1. re: opinionatedchef
        chowser Dec 26, 2008 04:06 PM

        LOL. In the time it took me to measure out 10 balls of dough, I'd only need to do two more scoops to finish a tray. I could repeat that process 3-4 times and be done since an average cookie recipe makes 3-4 trays worth of dough for me. That's at most 5 minutes for me. Freeze or bake, done. Freeze is even easier because I can put the dough next to each other and it all fits on one tray. Actually, I scoop and release one tray and bake it. Then while it's in the oven, I do the rest. Before that first batch is ready, the rest are done.

        But with your method, I'd put the 10 back on the scale to weigh them, and then put them back in with the rest of the batch. Do the math to figure out how many 12 or 13 would weigh (which isn't that quick in my head as, say, 10 cookies). Weigh that out, take out the saran wrap, roll out the dough to a flat dough. Refrigerate an hour and then repeat the process 3 more times? Then you have to mark the cookies to get 12 or 13 even cookies. It would be hard for me to get exactly 12 out of a square of dough unless it was a perfect rectangle. Thirteen would be even harder.

        I'm not convinced that's faster than the 5 minutes, at most, it takes me to scoop and release. If you wanted to do it mathematically, I'd weigh the dough. Figure out how many trays it would make, and divide the dough by that number, Spread that out and do it all at once. But there would stll be the problem of cutting if it weren't perfectly rectangulary. I'd do that for rolled slice and bake cookies. But, I don't always make a tray worth of cookies so the scoop and release and freeze method gives me the option to make as many as I need at a time whether it's two or 20.

    2. greygarious Dec 23, 2008 10:20 AM

      Scoop and release is fast and efflicient. I'd be finished and putting the pans away in the same amount of time it would take to calculate, weigh, wrap, chill, wait for softening, cut, and roll. If I wanted to freeze unbaked cookies I'd scoop onto a tray and freeze them till firm, then transfer to a bag or container.

      2 Replies
      1. re: greygarious
        chowser Dec 23, 2008 10:46 AM

        I'm a scoop and releaser, too. So easy, you can also put it on a baking tray and freeze individual cookies, in case you don't want a whole tray. And, I bake the dough frozen. With the scoop, cookies are uniform, maybe not perfectly if weighed but visibly the same.

        If I wanted to be THAT accurate, I'd probably weigh all the dough, figure out how many batches, then divide. Roll out and cut into 12 pieces or how many I need, kind of like you do for bread dough to make rolls.

        I don't understand the need to roll out 10 balls to get an average--can't you just make one ideal ball and weigh that? If you want to do math, just weigh one perfect size ball, weigh all the dough and divide that by the weight of that ideal ball. It'll tell you how many cookies you can make and go from there.

        1. re: chowser
          opinionatedchef Dec 25, 2008 09:21 PM

          as to your last paragraph, you are, of course, correct. I did '10 balls' because so many people have scales that don't weigh less than an ounce.

          As to baking frozen dough, I also do this with certain cookes, but not the rolled ones because of my technique. I make a coffee walnut shortbread cookie(Mocha Java Swirls) that I pipe into 3''sticks', freeze, bake frozen ,then dip in chocolate. For cookies that I slice from cylinders of dough, I also freeze the cylinders, then slice and bake.

      2. n
        northside food Dec 23, 2008 10:04 AM

        While I am quite sure this method results in perfectly sized cookies each and every time, it's just a wee bit too fussy for me though. I scoop the dough out with my hands, no spoon or scoop needed. I think getting odd sizes or shapes is part of the charm of homebaked.

        But it is a very nifty problem solving technique. I'm teaching a cooking class next semester and I may show the students how to do this to help them exercise their math brains a bit more.

        2 Replies
        1. re: northside food
          opinionatedchef Dec 25, 2008 09:08 PM

          you know,north, i actually do not care about the cookies being exactly the same size.(i am far from compulsive.) I really developed this method so that I could make multiple batches at a time and freeze them in packages that i knew would yield an approximated number. and because it's SO much faster to cut and roll than to scoop . and because freezer space is always at a premium for me, 'batch cook' that I am (stacked flat rectangles of dough take up much less space than balls of dough.)

          As to your students' math brains; good luck. I don't know if it's just the cooks I have met in the past 25 years in my own professional kitchens, but 'math challenged' has been a constant . It's in baking that math is so important and I have found that those cooks who 'do not like baking' also are not good at math.I've had a hunch that dyslexia is involved, but it's just a hunch.

          1. re: opinionatedchef
            northside food Dec 26, 2008 07:15 AM

            See, that makes sense. I never do more than one batch at a time, so scooping is faster. I think if I was making multiple batches, I would find your method more efficient.

            It's funny you mention dyslexia. I teach at a private middle school for students with special needs. A good portion of my students have some form of what the lay person recognizes as "dyslexia". I think that's part of why so many of them are interested in food services as a career. It seems, on the surface, like a job that doesn't involve much reading or math.

        2. buttertart Dec 23, 2008 09:46 AM

          I think this is quite brill. I usually weigh individual pieces (I like a 25-gram cookie) but will give this a whirl as well. Thanks!

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