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How to Keep Cut-Out Cookies from Spreading

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I'm trying to bake a sugar cookie that keeps its cut-out shape and doesn't spread. All the recipes I've tried call for all butter, not shortening. My sister who is a pastry chef suggested that I use half butter, half shortening to prevent spreading. I live at high altitude which may affect how my cookies turn out. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. I got this recipe a few years ago for No Fail Sugar Cookies and truly they have never failed me. I can't, however, swear by the recipe for high altitude since I have no experience with that.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5791...

    1. The sugar cookies I make spread very little. They typically hold pretty true to shape. Are you chilling the dough? I prepare the dough the night before, and put it in the fridge overnight before rolling and cutting.

      Also, the recipe I've always used calls for shortening. My Mom always used margarine. I've used both butter and margarine.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cachetes

        By the way, I believe the recipe I inherited from my Mom was one she had gotten from Betty Crocker. I have it written down, but I think there are rules here about putting down recipes that aren't one's own, so I hesitate.

      2. In my experience, chilling is key.

        1. Agree with chilling the dough, and keeping it chilled for as long as possible, i.e. if you're rolling it out in batches keep the rest of the dough in the fridge in the meantime. Silpat mat helps as well I think. Also, at the risk of stating the obvious, re-using a cookie sheet that's still warm from the oven can cause major spreading.

          1. It's sort of the last thing to try (after cold butter, chilled dough, thoroughly preheated oven etc.) but adding flour to the recipe will just about always work-a Tb or two can make a big difference; the consistency of cookie dough is mostly a matter of the proportion of fat to flour. How you measure the flour is very important- between sifted, straight from the bag, or fluffed in the bag, you can be using greatly different amounts of flour. If it doesn't say sifted in the flour measurement, it shouldn't be sifted before measuring. Some people feel that cooking surface (silpat, parchment, aluminum foil) is important- at least with the cookies I make, I've seen no significant difference.

            1. Another for chlling the dough and keeping the portion you're not rolling chilled. Especially in this hot weather.

              1. They are obviously different methods, but my ONLY way to keep pie dough from melting down when blind baking is to freeze it prior to popping in the oven. By the time the fat is melted enough to flow, the edges have begun setting up so are less prone to melting.

                Worth a shot at least!

                1. You've gotten good advice. Things that would help: half butter/half shortening, increased flour (and using cake flour), chilling (not only the dough but put the whole cookie sheet w/ cut cookies in the refrigerator and bake from cold), start baking at a higher temp (375) until cookie is set and then lower it, bake directly on cookie sheet, not on silpat which will help it spread more.