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Jan 23, 2012 10:40 AM

Why do my toll house cookies deflat once out of the oven?

I've read hundreds of posts on suggestions to solve the flat crispy cookie problem. I know it's only a problem if you don't like flat crispy cookies, half the population like flat, the other half likes thick and chewy. Often the flat cookie populace strives for thick and chewy and vice versa.

I've tried everything, chill the dough, froze the dough, melt the butter, not melt the butter, change white/brown sugar combination, Alton Brown's recipe, 5 different other chocolate chip cookie recipes, added up to 3/4 cup more flour, used dark pans, light aluminum pans, preheated the oven, calibrated the oven with two different thermometers, tap the pan after I take them out of the oven.

The issue is I don't really want to change the tollhouse recipe as my good friend, and it seems many others, can achieve thick chewy chickens with the same recipe. I 've even checked elevation differences between our cities to see if elevations make a difference.

Finally, I conducted a control study where I invited my friend to come over to my house to bake them. She brought all her own ingredients, utensils, and battered aluminum baking sheet, and....redemption! Her cookies made at my house in my oven came out flat!!!

I've narrowed it down to my oven (but I don't want to discourage any other ideas). My question to all you Bakers, Chemist, Physicist (yes I think it's become more of a scientific questions) rather than one of technique or ingredients, is could it be the heat intensity on my Thermodor professional oven even though it calibrates correctly at 375 and correctly pre-heated. Could it be that the intensity, humidity of the professional oven could be melting the butter too quickly or differently creating the air bubbles I see when I take the cookies out of the oven, where all the air swooshes out resulting in flat crispy cookies???

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  1. Well, everything I would have suggested, you seem to have already tried. Since it happened to your friend when she baked cookies at your house, my guess is that it's your oven. Personally, I like a flatter cookie, but I did bake an oatmeal cookie once that called for baking soda as well as baking powder and they came out higher and cakier than I prefer. Maybe you could add a little baking powder. You mentioned that you checked elevation differences but I am curious what your elevation actually is. Once you reach around 5,000 ft., things can change.
    Try baking them at a next door neighbors house and see what the results are.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Saluti

      I tried dissolving the baking soda in 2 tsp hot water first and although it didn't make them thicker, they were slightly chewer, but still wafer thin flat. My cookies taste great, just like how toll house cookie recipes should taste. I haven't tried adding baking powder yet, mainly because I didn't necessarily want a cake like consistency. My town elevation is 352 vs my friends is 87.

      A couple more interesting tidbits in this mystery is my friend purchased the pre-made Nestle toll house cookie dough and baked in her oven and they came out flat and crispy like my homemade ones. Also, my previous oven was a whirlpool and the cookies came out flat also, although not as flat as my Thermodor oven. Literally my cookies de-flat to the point where only the chocolate chips poke out, the dough is flat as paper. One other thing I tried which one armchair scientist on the another blog suggested was adding almost an extra cup of flour, thinking the cookies lacked structure, although they were slightly thicker, they too deflated once out of the oven. With the added flour, the toll house buttery, sugary sweetness was gone...and although still a good tasting cookie, was not the same.

      I'm just curious on whether oven heat have varying characteristics, aside from the temperature as measured by the thermometer, that can cause this problem.

    2. couple of thoughts --

      I'm assuming your oven is convection... I would highly advise baking at 325 or possibly 350.

      I assume your only leavener in the Toll House is baking soda... i'd cut it in half, as there isn't enough acid to really utiliize its leavening capacity. instead, as an acid, it will promote spread, and browning.

      one other idea is keep your Toll House, and add an extra yolk. this will provide a little more structure and height to your cookie.

      you seem to have exhausted most of the other options, so i hope something in here is helpful!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Emme

        Hi Emme,
        I have both a convection setting and regular setting. I've understand convection runs about 25 degrees hotter and tried cooking on convection at lower temperature and watching them like a hawk. As with the regular oven setting, they come out ok, but than deflate....

      2. what sort of climate do you have where you live?

        Humid weather always gives me flat cookies -- drier weather allows them to raise higher AND retain their shape. (we're a thick and chewy household, although the thin crispy ones disappear at the same rate)

        I'd try a little baking powder, too -- it can't hurt -- I've added by mistake a few times, although I can't say that they came out significantly taller.

        5 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          I'm in the San Francisco Bay area where the whether is temperate without much extremes most of the year, I'll try the baking powder....

          1. re: dorymoments

            but the fog would indicate pretty high humidity, wouldn't it?

            1. re: sunshine842

              It's not foggy throughout the (nine-county) SF Bay Area, as there are many inland areas and lots of microclimates. In general, it's only a moderate-humidity climate although until the past couple of weeks, we've had a couple of months of much lower than normal humidity (under 30%). At any rate, I've never had these flat-cookie issues here. I think it's the OP's oven or technique.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                I just know that the two times I visited (and loved) SF, the fog was of the pea-soup variety, lingering as a thick haze even through the warm afternoon....maybe I was just lucky.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Fogginess in SF depends much on season and neighborhood, to be sure. I assumed that the OP wasn't in the city of SF, given that she mentioned Bay Area, and would note that the SF Bay Area proper encompasses nine counties, ranging from foggy bayside to well inland, and measures over 150 miles north to south, so includes many microclimates. However, on the whole it is, as OP says, temperate and even in SF lacks the high/low-humidity extremes that often affect baking. Good thought WRT troubleshooting, however.

        2. "thick chewy chickens"? Have to ask... typo or regional/family nickname for cookies? I totally want to steal that!

          Do you have an oven thermometer to check your friend's oven? Measure oven rack distance from element in both ovens? Does one oven have a hidden element? Unless you have oven ghosts smashing down those chickens, something simple and easily fixable is at play here.

          1 Reply
          1. Have you tried decreasing the amount of butter? I made a batch of cookies a few weeks ago and accidentally doubled the fat, they tasted good but were flat & crispy. I know the butter will add flavor, but the more butter you have the flatter they will be.