Many homebakers regard baking as a therapeutic and enjoyable activity that they do in their spare time. Yet, as any DIY baker will tell you, it can be devastating when the dough doesn’t quite come together the way you imagine.
For example, if you don’t add enough milk, your cookies will turn out dry and flavorless. On the other hand, if you add too much, you’ll likely end up with uneven cookies that are too brittle and crumbly to eat.
Luckily, there are solutions to revive your baked goods and help you make super delicious cookies every time.
Read on to learn the tips and tricks for baking the ultimate sugar cookie.
Baking is definitely more of an exact science rather than an art form. And despite our best efforts, sometimes things can go wrong, making our homemade cookies come out dry and hard.
Below are a handful of reasons why this could happen and what to do about it. Take a look.
Flour is what adds protein to any type of baked goods recipe. Interestingly enough, the lower the protein content, the softer the cookies will turn out. So, if you want soft cookies, try substituting all-purpose flour, which is medium-protein, for cake flour, since it’s lower in protein.
Knowing which type of flour to use is just as important as knowing how much of it to use.
Adding more flour than the recipe calls for, even if it’s only a tablespoonful, can wreak havoc on your cookies, making them feel hard and taste dry. Yet, many homebakers still scoop out flour without taking the time to measure it properly.
Here’s a quick tutorial on the best way to measure your flour correctly:
- Open the bag of flour or storage container and sift through the flour using a fork so that it’s light and airy rather than packed and dense.
- Spoon the flour into a measuring cup until it’s overflowing.
- Using the back of a knife, level the flour in the measuring cup and return the extra amount to the bag or storage container.
If the cookie recipe you’re using is lacking in fat, this means there are more dry ingredients. This will most likely lead to crumbly cookie dough and ultimately, dry, brittle cookies. To offset this, mix in a teaspoon of fatty ingredients at a time, then mix.
You can choose either melted butter, vegetable oil, or egg yolks. Just remember not to add too much at once as this will cause the cookies to come out greasy and lacking in flavor.
Any type of liquid ingredient, such as milk, vanilla extract, eggs, or even plain old water is what I use to help moisten cookie dough. This gives it consistency to make the cookies come out less dry and crumbly, and more moist and tasty.
So, if you feel that your cookies are dry, try adding one teaspoon of your choice of liquid ingredient. Then, mix after each addition, and check the texture of the cookie dough.
If it’s soft and malleable but seems to maintain its shape, then it’s ready for baking.
Make sure you keep track of how much extra ingredients you added for future reference.
Almost every type of dough you’ll prepare will work better if you give it time to rest. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for up to an hour.
During this time, the ingredients will melt into each other and combine at their own pace. It’ll also give the gluten in the flour a chance to relax, helping the cookies turn out soft and chewy.
To do this, roll out the dough, cut out the shapes, and line them up on the cookie sheet. Then, put them in the freezer for up to 15 minutes before placing them in the oven.
This will prevent the dough from spreading or drying up during the baking process.
As with most things you bake in the oven, your cookies will continue to bake after you’ve turned off the heat and removed them. In fact, this is precisely how they get that soft, chewy texture you’re looking for in a cookie.
So, make sure you carefully follow the instructions in the recipe. Also, confirm that your oven temperature is accurately at 375℉ using an oven thermometer. After that, remove the cookies from the oven a minute or two earlier than stated in the recipe so they don’t overbake.
Finally, let them sit on the baking sheet for about five minutes before transferring them to a wire rack using a palette knife or perforated spatula.
So, what do you do if your cookies come out dry? Lots of things!
All you have to do is crumble them up, and you’re all set. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Use them as toppings for brownies, cakes, jelly, and almost every type of dessert you can think of!
- Turn them into a bottom layer for a no-bake dessert
- Place them in a pan and use them as a base for a pie or cheesecake
- Mix them into any flavor of ice cream
If your cookies come out dry and hard, there’s one way to make them softer: bread.
Place the cookies in an airtight container and add a slice of bread in there with them.
The bread will create just the right amount of moisture to give the cookies a softer texture than before.
A second trick is to wrap a couple of cookies in a napkin and place them in the microwave for 4–5 seconds until their texture softens slightly.
There you have it! My top insider tips and tricks on how to avoid your sugar cookies coming out too dry and flaky.
With these tips, you’ll be able to make the most delectable batch of sweet, moist sugar cookies to wow your family and friends.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.