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cookies behaving oddly

Okay, so I made a batch of "Batchelors Buttons" the same way I made them the last time. The only things different are that I had the oven on convection, and the flour. This batch didn't spread out nearly as much as the last one; like twice the height and half as big around didn't spread. Do I blame it on the oven or the flour? Can gluten REALLY make that much of a difference in cookies? um, butter might have been different too, but really, how much difference can that make? It's all american style butter, right?

oh yeah, recipe:

1 c butter
1 1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2 c flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 T hot water

cream butter, sugar. Add egg, vanilla. Sift dry, and add to mix. Add water, drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet. Cook, cool on rack, and when cool, smear with nutella, rasberry jam, whatever, and sandwich together.

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  1. what exactly was different about the flour? usually the butter content in cookies is enough to prohibit gluten development, but other factors could contribute to them not spreading: oven at lower temperature, ingredients at lower temperature, undermixing/creaming, eggs of differing size, how the flour was measured, etc.

    1. "Do I blame it on the oven or the flour? "

      Oven. Convection oven mode cooks faster, but that also means the cookie dough has less time to spread before setting in. Next time, split your cookie dough into two and bake them differently, one in normal conventional oven mode and the other in convection mode.

      1. Gluten and butter can make a big difference in spread but I think Chemicalkinetics hit the nail on the head.

        1. Flour can make a big difference. Different flours, even different all purpose flours absorb different amounts of liquid. Relative humidity can affect your flour, and measuring by cups is often inconsistent.

          1. Was the temperature of the butter different? I've had cold butter, not quite creamed enough, do that before.

            1. did you lower the temperature of the oven for convection? drop it by 25 degrees next time, and more spread will occur... also, take into account the myriad of other helpful suggestions above!

              9 Replies
              1. re: Emme

                Thanks for all the advice! I will totally whip up a half-batch today, and cook one tray conventionally and the other on convection, and report back!

                1. re: tinahtulsa

                  :) I am putting my bet on the convection as the reason. I am putting one dollar.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I'll see your dollar and...

                      My odds on what's wrong:
                      1) Convection oven--$1
                      2) Too much flour--$.25
                      3) Temperature (room/butter hence dough) cooler than normal--$.20
                      4) Cookie sheet can matter, if it doesn't conduct heat as quickly but don't think that's the cause here--$.03

                      I think it's interesting, as instructions go, to add a Tbsp of hot water after dough has been mixed. I've never seen that.

                      1. re: chowser

                        That looks more like a mutal fund portfolio. :)

                        1. re: chowser

                          So it is, indeed, the convection setting!!!!
                          I had never seen the add water either. I forgot the part about mix it in. If you've never made these, they are a treat. I'm not sure what difference the water makes, but I didn't want to leave it out.

                          1. re: tinahtulsa

                            glad the mystery was solved!

                            out of curiosity, did you switch back to conventional? would you consider trying a convection batch at a 25 degree lower temp?

                            yay for good cookies regardless!

                            1. re: Emme

                              I think I've baked the last batch of cookies in this house. I'm moving out this weekend, and the new house has a conventional oven. I guess we could talk someone else into trying it?

                            2. re: tinahtulsa

                              Where is my $1? I earn it fair and square.