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Which Flour to Use for Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie flour. I have some good ideas for a recipe, and frankly, it won't stray far from the classic Toll House Cookies on the bag of chocolate chips. I will just tweak it a little. I am mainly wondering about what type of flour to use, pastry or all purpose. I am inclined to think that pastry will make a softer, chewier cookie. This is what I want. Am I right?

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  1. All purpose; you can make a chewy cookie with this flour as well as long as you don't over bake it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cherylptw

      More brown sugar and less white sugar also helps with "chewy" cookies vs crisp

    2. pastry flour will leave you with a cookie that falls apart on contact -- you want the gluten in AP -- that's what gives you the chewy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        Definitely don't want them to fall apart! I love pastry flour for biscuits; they seem so much lighter than with AP. What do you use pastry flour for, then? I have always been of the opinion that: cake flour for cakes, bread flour for bread, pastry flour for pastries and cookies, and all purpose? Well, no purpose! Why am I wrong, please? I have read that it is "good" for everything, but not "great" for anything.

        1. re: Jessiet

          More technical info here:

          http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-di...

          and here:
          '
          http://www.joyofbaking.com/flour.html

          I would also offer up that since the vast majority of recipes in the US are written with AP in mind, AP is going to work pretty darned well in most US recipes.

          European flours are a few points lower in protein than US flours, and they make gnarly-looking chocolate-chip cookies that don't hold together worth a darn, and don't have the slightly-chewy texture you're aiming for.

          I regularly bake everything from angel-food cake to whole-wheat bread, but AP is my go-to unless I'm making something that really, really will benefit from another flour.

      2. You don't mention it, but also consider the sugar. Your dark brown:white sugar ratio is going to affect texture considerably as well. In fact, I prefer 100% DBS. I also find the creaming step to be one of the most crucial parts of the process, something I gathered from the momofuku milk bar book. Proper, lengthy creaming results in a very airy-crispy cookie. Combined with the high DBS content, you get a crispy chewy cookie more often than not.

        Oh, and I use AP flour, just being careful to not overmix the flour to activate too much gluten.

        10 Replies
        1. re: medjool

          Think I'll try DBS also. You mention crispy and chewy together; do you mean crispy edges with chewy interiors? I don't really care much about "airy". And what about butter? I'm also under the impression that butter tends to make a crispier cookie. However, don't think I could bring myself to put trans fats from Crisco or the like into my body. Your thoughts on this re: butter. Thank you so much for the helpful input. I don't do too much baking; savory dishes are my thing, but at Christmastime, don't we all need chocolate chip cookies?

          1. re: Jessiet

            Crisco has been made without transfats for 7-8 years now.

            Vegetable shortening makes a cookie that stands up taller and stays softer in the middle.

            All butter gives you a flat, crispy cookie.

            I use half and half.

            1. re: sunshine842

              I'll post this again - it seems to be periodically necessary.

              The Toll House recipe is designed to produce flat, crisp cookies. If you want all butter, and tall, soft cookies, you need to adjust the proportion of eggs upwards. A good place to start is with 3/2 the proportion of eggs. Think of it this way: as you increase the amount of eggs, the dough becomes more and more like a cake mixture, until it in fact is. Cakes and cookies are fundamentally similar, the main difference being the egg ratio. (Yes this is simplifying things a bit but the principle is what I'm illustrating here). As you reduce the egg proportion, by contrast, you get flatter and crisper until with NO eggs what you have is shortbread. It's interesting: in almost all discussions of chocolate chip cookies, nobody ever seems to think of adjusting the egg proportion; that seems to be taken as a given.

              If you increase flour content cookies become breadier, closer to scones, rather as you might expect. Of course there's a critical point where the flour won't bind to either liquid or fat and the dough falls apart. What type of flour you use depends a lot on what you seek to achieve. Cake and pastry flour produce light, very tender cookies, dainty morsels that one might imagine on a high-society table. Bread flour will give a chewy cookie; it's possible to use bread flour btw, without hopelessly tough results; it's a good choice if you need to transport your cookies over a long distance. All-purpose types give a near-optimal compromise, unless you want really quite pronounced chew, in which case bread flour is the one of choice.

              Sugars increase chewiness but also toughness, as the result tends more and more towards candy. Decrease the sugar and the result becomes more like scones or (American) biscuits, bready in the same way that increasing the flour does (after all, it's the same sort of change in ratio). However the result would be richer than the corresponding change done by increasing flour.

              Increasing butter produces richer but much more delicate cookies. At some point the cookies become so delicate that they'll fall apart into crumbly bits (albeit rich, yummy bits)

              There's no reason to hold the Toll House recipe as sacrosanct; it's worth toying around with it to see what results you can get with various adjustments.

              1. re: AlexRast

                This was wonderfully informative. Thank you. The Toll House recipe has been anything but sacrosanct to me. I have read many, many articles and recipes on chocolate chip cookies, and only recently came back to the thought that perhaps the "original" is the one I'm actually looking for; it is the one that my mother always used. I am not looking for a high cookie, but rather one that has crispy edges and a chewy center. It sounds like this may be achieved a few ways. At this point, I'll be using AP flour, and leaving the recipe pretty much as is, with the exception of adding some extra bittersweet chocolate morsels, and slightly undercooking the cookies. I'll see what that produces. I'm also interested in adding some browned butter, but maybe I'll try that next!

                1. re: Jessiet

                  I've been making browned butter chocolate chip cookies lately and they are amazing. Really, really amazing.

                  I use this recipe as my base:

                  http://joythebaker.com/2013/06/brown-...

                  I tend to change up the add ins. If you like pecans, double what's called for here. I made a version with nutella "chips", pecans and dried cherries that were awesome. But they are fantastic as just a basic chocolate chip cookie, too.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    I'm making these today. How can they be bad? I'll let you know how they turned out.

                    1. re: Jessiet

                      Great! Just a note that the baking time is perfect if you make a large 2 Tbsp cookie like she specifies. If you make a smaller cookie, definite reduce the time, otherwise you end up with a crunchy cookie, rather than a chewy inside with crispy edges.

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        Noted. Going to add extra chocolate chips, too. She has some other CC cookie recipes that look good, too. Have you any of them?

            2. re: Jessiet

              I think what you want is the ny times choco chip cookies- crisp edges, chewy in the center, all butter. Aging the dough is really important, don't skip it:
              http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/din...

            3. re: medjool

              medjool, not overmixing was my take-away from the Milk cookbook, too. It makes a great cookie.

              1. re: Uncle Bob

                I'm afraid all I have right now is King Arthur organic AP. I'll have to get some of the White Lily if I can in the future; don't know if it's available in the mid-Atlantic states. Thank you.

                1. re: Jessiet

                  KA will give you beautiful cookies.

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    Thank you. Hadn't tried it before; they were selling at a wholesale outlet and thought I'd try it. Use KA regular AP other times. I also use a local (Pennsylvania) soft wheat pastry four.

              2. Here's a list I put together of U.S. wheat flour types
                U.S. WHEAT FLOUR TYPES AND BEST USES:

                .
                Wheat Flour Protein:

                -Protein levels range from about 7% in pastry and cake flours to as high as about 15% in high-gluten bread flour.

                -Protein percentage indicates the amount of gluten available in the a given flour. Gluten is the substance which develops when the flour protein, which occurs naturally in wheat flour, is combined with liquid and kneaded.

                -Because gluten is able to stretch elastically, it is desirable to have a higher gluten flour for yeast-raised products, which have doughs that are stretched extensively; like pizza, most yeast breads, and bagels.

                -For cakes, pie crusts, cookies, biscuits, pancakes, waffles and pastry to be short and crumbly or tender, a lower protein flour is better. Also, in higher gluten flours, the gluten can overpower the chemical leaveners like baking powder or baking soda, causing the final baked goods to not rise as high.

                -Hard winter wheat, mainly grown in the north, has a higher protein and more gluten, 10% to 13%.
                Most northern and national brand all-purpose flours, bread flour and high-gluten flour is made from hard winter wheat.

                -Soft summer wheat, mainly grown in the south, has a lower protein and lower gluten, 8% to 10%
                Most cake, pastry and southern all-purpose flour is made from soft summer wheat.

                Bleaching flour does a couple of things, it whitens the flour and it also alters the flour protein causing it to form weaker gluten.
                Most cake flours are bleached.
                .
                --------------
                .
                FLOUR PROTEIN BY TYPES AND BRANDS (retail flour):
                .
                CAKE FLOUR - 7% to 9.4% protein
                Best Use: cakes, blending with national brands all-purpose flour to make pastry flour or Southern flour substitute.
                -King Arthur Queen Guinevere Cake Flour, 7.0%
                -King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend, 9.4%
                -Pillsbury Softasilk Bleached Cake Flour, 6.9%
                -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
                -Swans Down Bleached Cake Flour, 7.1%
                .
                PASTRY FLOUR - 8 to 9% protein
                Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pastries, pancakes, pie crusts, waffles.
                -King Arthur Unbleached Pastry Flour, 8%
                -King Arthur Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 9%
                .
                ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, SOUTHERN - 8 to 9% protein
                Best Use: biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, quick breads, waffles.
                -Martha White Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 9%
                -White Lily Bleached All-Purpose Flour, 8 to 9%
                .
                SELF-RISING FLOUR (flour, baking powder, salt) - 8 to 10.5% protein
                Best Use: biscuits, cookies, pancakes, muffins, quick breads, waffles.
                -Gold Medal Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 10.5%
                -King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, 8.5%
                -Martha White Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.4%
                -Pillsbury Best Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 9.7%
                -Presto Self Rising Cake Flour, 7.4%
                -White Lily Bleached Self-Rising Flour, 8 to 9%
                .
                ALL PURPOSE BAKING MIXES (flour, shortening, baking powder, sugar, salt) - 6.25 to 12.5% protein
                Best Use: biscuits, cookies, coffee cakes, pancakes, quick breads, pastry, waffles
                -Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Baking Mix, 12.5%
                -Bisquick Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
                -Jiffy All Purpose Baking Mix, 6.25%
                -King Arthur Flour All Purpose Baking Mix, 10%
                -Pioneer Original Baking Mix, 7.5%
                .
                INSTANT FLOUR 10.5 to 12.6% protein
                Best Use: thicken gravies, sauces, and soups without lumps.
                -Gold Medal Wondra Quick Mixing Flour, 10.5%
                -Pillsbury Best Shake & Blend Flour, 12.6%
                .
                ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED, NATIONAL BRANDS - 10 to 11.5% protein
                Best Use: makes average biscuits, cookies, muffins, pancakes, pie crusts, pizza crusts, quick breads, waffles, yeast breads.
                -Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour, 10.5%
                -Pillsbury Best All-Purpose Flour, 10 to 11.5%
                -Pioneer All-Purpose Flour, 10%
                -White Wings All-Purpose Flour, 10%
                .
                ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, NORTHERN, BLEACHED & UNBLEACHED - 11.5 to 12% protein
                Best Use: cream puffs, puff pastry, yeast breads, pizza crusts.
                -Heckers and Ceresota All-Purpose Flour, 11.5 to 11.9 %
                -King Arthur All-Purpose Flour, 11.7%
                -Robin Hood All-Purpose Flour, 12.0%
                .
                BREAD FLOUR - 11.7 to 12.9% protein
                Best Use: traditional yeast breads, bread machine, pizza crusts, pasta.
                -Gold Medal Better For Bread, 12%
                -King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, 12.7%
                -Pillsbury Best Bread Flour, 12.9%
                -White Lily Unbleached Bread Flour, 11.7%
                .
                DURUM WHEAT (Semolina) 13 to 13.5% protein
                Best Use: Pasta.
                -Hodgson Mill Golden Semolina & Extra Fancy Durum Pasta Flour, 13.3%
                -King Arthur Extra Fancy Durum Flour, 13.3%
                .
                WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR - 12.9 to 14% protein
                Best Use: hearth breads, blending with other flours.
                -Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flour, 13.3%
                -King Arthur 100% Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
                -King Arthur 100% White Whole Wheat Flour, 14%
                -Pillsbury Best Whole Wheat Flour, 12.9%
                .
                HIGH-GLUTEN FLOUR 14 to 15% protein
                Best Use: bagels, pizza crusts, blending with other flours.
                -King Arthur Organic Hi-Gluten Flour, 14%
                -King Arthur Sir Lancelot Unbleached Hi-Gluten Flour, 14.2%
                .
                VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN FLOUR, Breadmaking Supplement - 65 to 77% protein
                Best Use: Added to raise gluten. Adds extra gluten to low-gluten whole grain flours, such as rye, oat, teff, spelt, or buckwheat.
                -Arrowhead Mills Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 65.0%
                -Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
                -Gillco Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 75.0%
                -Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 66.6%
                -King Arthur Vital Wheat Gluten Flour, 77.8%
                .
                --------------
                .
                Retail Flour Companies - Brands:
                -Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Milwaukie, Oregon -Bob's Red Mill
                -C.H. Guenther & Son Inc, San Antonio, Texas - Pioneer Flour, Pioneer Baking Mix, White Wings Flour
                -General Mills Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Bisquick, Gold Medal Flour, (sold US Pillsbury Flour , retains Pillsbury frozen goods)
                -Hain Celestial Group Inc, Boulder, Colorado - Arrowhead Mills
                -J.M. Smucker Company, Orrville, Ohio - Martha White Flour, Pillsbury Flour, Robin Hood Flour, White Lily Flour
                -King Arthur Flour Company, Norwich, Vermont - King Arthur Flour
                -Reily Foods Company, New Orleans, Louisiana - Swan's Down Cake Flour, Presto Self Rising Cake Flour
                -Uhlmann Company, Kansas City, Missouri - Heckers Flour, Ceresota Flour
                .
                --------------
                .
                To make self-rising flour, add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp table salt to each cup of flour.
                .
                To make a lower protein flour (similar to White Lily or Pastry flour), mix half cake flour with half all-purpose flour.
                .
                Another substitute for soft Southern flour, not quite as tender, for each cup of regular all-purpose flour, replace 2 Tablespoons of flour with cornstarch, mix well. (1 cup lightened all-purpose flour = 14 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch.)
                .
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                Version 7-6-2013

                1 Reply
                1. re: Antilope

                  Oh my! This is amazing. I'm going to print this out and keep it on my cupboard door. Wonderful! I'll never be confused again. Thank you, thank you!