Butter cookies

Butter cookies

History of cookies

A cookie is a thin, sweet, and usually small cake. By definition, a cookie can be any of a variety of hand-held, flour-sugar-fat  based sweet cakes, either crisp or soft. They are sometimes called biscuits. The name cookie is derived from the Dutch word “koekje”, which means "small cake".

The earliest cookie-style cakes are thought to have come about in 7th-century Persia AD (now Iran). This was one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. Luxurious cakes and pastries in large and small versions were well-known in the Persian Empire. According to historians, sugar originated either in the lowlands of Bengal or elsewhere in South East Asia. The use of sugar spread to Persia and then to the eastern Mediterranean.

I learned  the first professional basics about cookies when I was 8 years old. The master bakers that taught me  explained: “when you want to bake cookies, use your baking time”.

These days, we reduce the baking time maximum – we believe that time is money. But to be honest, more time makes for more (better) taste and thus, more revenue!  (on account of the better quality).

Different types of cookies

In general there are more than 1000 recipes of cookies. We can divide cookies in groups:

  • Butter cookies   (Rolling – piping – flowing)
  • Biscuits
  • Almond cookies (Rolling and piping)
  • Soft cookies  (American cookies)

In this blog I focus on butter cookies.

Butter cookies contain, in general: flour, sugar, butter and flavour.

Basic recipe: 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter and 1 part sugar. The combination of flavours depends on the region or country, most popular are: cinnamon, spice, nuts, chocolate, and vanilla/butter.

Recipes

   Rolling  Rolling with baking powder  Piping  Piping with baking powder  Flowing
           
 Flour 1000 g  1000 g  1000 g  1000 g  1000 g 
 Butter   800 g  600 g  800 g  700 g  870 g 
 Powder sugar   - 250 g  225 g  870 g 
 Crystal sugar 700 g  400 g  250 g  225 g  -
 Eggs 100 g    100 g  100 g  430 g 
 Salt 10 g  10 g  10 g 10 g  10 g 
 Baking powder - 5 g  10 g   

Ingredients

Flour:

The function of flour is to keep all ingredients together so that you can handle the cookies.

When you have ‘strong’ flour, you can use a smaller quantity, if ‘weak’ flour you must use more. The best choice in quality is strong flour, this makes it possible to reduce the flour by more than 20%. Less flour gives a  richer taste, higher quality and higher price. Weak flour  can require using  up to 20% more flour, and more flour makes the taste poor, and the price lower.

Butter:

The function of butter in a cookie is to build the structure, butter is the ‘glue’ in the dough between the sugar and the flour, and it is responsible for the character, bite and taste in the baked cookies.

Butter can be replaced by margarine or fat or oil, when using fat and oil you need an emulsifier to bring all ingredients together. When experimenting with the melting point, you can create aerating of the dough, which results in  a different type of cookie.

Sugar:

Sugar is responsible for the bite of the cookie. The granule size of the sugar can change the structure completely. Powder sugar gives a cookie a sandy character with a fine structure, whereas large-size  sugar crystals give it a really hard and open structure. Brown sugar in combination with cinnamon gives a real special flavour, which is very popular in a lot of countries. You can also play with quantities of sugar and butter. If you keep  the same total amount, you can change the crispiness, structure and taste with more or less the same look.

Example: 

 Butter  50%  40%  60%
 Sugar  50%  60%  40%
 Total  100%  100%  100%
 Structure  normal  Harder  Softer

 

Baking powder:

For top-quality  cookies you don’t need baking powder. All recipes with baking powder contain less sugar and fat and are baked in a shorter time. The correct combination of baking powder can reduce the total amount of butter and sugar, with the same bite volume and structure of the cookies

Shelf life

Butter cookies have, in general, a long shelf life. This makes it easy to produce cookies in advance.

Important for a long shelf life are:

  • Baking time
  • Type of fat (Butter – lauric or non-lauric fats)
  • Moisture in the baked cookie (must be lower than 2% in the final product)
  • Packaging
  • Store condition: dry, dark and cool

Conclusion:

Cookies are made with a simple process. Mixing – moulding – baking.

You can adjust the following elements to make your one cookie for the best price:

  • Level of sugar / butter
  • Baking time  (Shelf life control)
  • With or without baking powder
  • Quality of the flour
  • Add your own flavours or spices