The Fresh Loaf

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Baking for the First Time.. HELP!!

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knightrised's picture

Baking for the First Time.. HELP!!

I'm trying to bake (cookies) for the first time ever.. However I encountered some problems which I wonder if anyone here can help me:

1. How to preheat the oven correctly? For example if i set the temperature to 325 degree (as required by the recipe), the timer to 15mins, and once 15mins is over the heating power will be off. The temperature of the oven will slowly drop..

Should I worry about the oven not maintaining the temperature at a constant of 325 degree before I insert in the things that I want to bake?
Usually how fast should you insert in the tray once the oven has been preheated?

2. Should the oven's tray remain in the oven during preheating? Or should I only insert in the tray (together with the cookie dough & baking sheet) after preheating has been done?

3. My oven has a heating coil at the top and at the bottom. Usually to bake cookies (ort anything) on a tray, do you just on the top heating coil, or do you turn on both the top & bottom heating coil?

By the way, my cookies always get over cooked (burnt) when I use the heating coil at the top.

4. The cookies that I baked, turns out to be crispy on the edges, and softer in the inside.. is there a way to make total crispy cookies, likes the ones on supermarket's shelves?

5. Finally, I would like to know usually what will happen to cookies if we added in more flour than what is required by the recipe?

Please help me. Thanks!!! :) :)

LoganK's picture

Hello there, maybe I can help you a bit.

  1. Turn the oven to the temperature specified in the recipe, and wait a while, 10-15 minutes should be plenty for 325.  Most ovens have some way of telling you if there up to temperature, they beep, or the little light cycles on and off, or so forth.  You'll want to try to figure that out if you can so that you'll know in the future when the oven is ready.  Then leave the oven on throughout the entire baking time, the thermostat in the oven will cause the heating element to cycle on and off to keep the oven right around 325.  You can put your tray of cookies in as soon as the oven is preheated, no need to wait.  

  2. The oven racks can live in the oven, no need to take them in and out unless you have a reason to.  Just preheat with the racks in place and then put in the cookies on your baking sheet.

  3. The top coil is typically for broiling only, so it's best to use only the bottom coil in this case.  Most ovens' "bake" function only turns on the bottom element, and the "broil" function turns on the top with little or no temperature control (no surprise on the burning).  For cookies, stick with the bottom.

  4. Can't help you too much here, cause the crisp on the outside, soft on the inside cookie is my favorite.  I always turn to Joy of Cooking for tips like this.  Sorry.

  5. More flour usually translates to a cakier cookie, but too much can dry them out.  I prefer to keep flour pretty low, but again, that's all preference.  

Hope this helps a bit.  Good luck!

knightrised's picture

In the beginning, before I preheat the oven, should I add up the preheating time + baking time, and then set the oven to the overall added time?


ericb's picture

Just curious, what is the make and model of your oven? 

LoganK's picture

Best just to let your oven preheat as long as it takes (try to find out how your oven tells you when it's preheated.  Do you have a manual?), then put the cookies in and set the timer for the shortest time given in the recipe.  So, if your recipe says bake 12-15 minutes:  preheat as long as it takes, then put the cookies in and set the timer for 12 minutes.  If they're ready after 12 minutes, pull them out, if not, give them a few minutes more.  You'll find that your oven may run a little hot or a little cool, and you'll learn pretty fast how to compensate in terms of total bake time.  A bit longer bake time will tend to give a crisper cookie if you haven't used too much flour, maybe you should try that?  Experiment a bit and you'll get the feel for it.


CeraMom's picture

Does your oven shut off automatically? Most do not.

You will need your oven on for the entire cooking process from preheating to baking, right up through when the cookies are pulled from the oven.

mrfrost's picture

The evidence so far says we are using a toaster oven, or some sort of counter top oven. Even though most can be set to just stay on, one then maybe cannot then use the timer.

If this is the case, don't use the timer mode. Just keep the time your self.

RiverWalker's picture

omg. I never even thought of that!

I concur, it sounds lke the OP is using a toaster oven.

due to strange circumcstances once I did try baking a little with a toaster oven once.  ... it doesn't quite work very well, toaster ovens aren't really meant for that.