Honey, I Killed The Snickerdoodles


Thank you for your words of congratulations! AdoringHusband and I are still on cloud nine. This little cutie pie is now completely, officially ours:

It seems hard to believe that the only hoops we will have to jump through in the future are the ones she will no doubt put us through over the years. I can finally exhale.

Thank you all for the years of support you’ve given me throughout this difficult journey to parenthood.

And speaking of my little cutie-pie, her school is having a holiday cookie exchange today. I’ve been so geeked to officially bake cookies for the first time as a mom.

As background before I share my latest drama, let me explain that I’ve been baking cookies for eons. As a child, my mother would send me to bake sales with Oreos, claiming that she was unable to bake cookies (not that she had ever tried.) When I started cooking for the family at 9, I also began following recipies and baking my own cookies. I also baked them when my brother and sister needed them for school. So this is a lot of years of baking experience here. And this makes what happened last night completely unfathomable.

I spent the weekend scouring the partially unpacked boxes in our basement looking for the really cool ginger cookie with black pepper recipe that I had found in a magazine almost 10 years ago. But unfortunately I was unable to find any of my clipped recipes. They are lost in the morass that is our basement.

I then moved to my old standby, the Snickerdoodle. I’ve made snickerdoodles so many times that it’s silly. I printed the recipe from my Mastercook program and set to work. Zara, who was not happy in the family room without me, was moved to the kitchen floor where she was given a whisk and a bowl for her own mixing. Yet when I got to the stage where it was time to roll the little balls, I realized the dough felt weird. It was too sticky. I added a little flour but it was still stickier than usual.

I went ahead and rolled the balls in the cinnamon sugar and placed them on the baking sheets. I tried the convection bake setting and waited for the output. Eight minutes later I was like, oh my god! The cookies had all melted into each other and were completely flat (usually the snickerdoodle is a little puffy). Then I couldn’t get them off the cookie sheet despite my having coated them with Pam. It was a disaster (though they tasted fine, according to AdoringHusband) I couldn’t show these cookies at a holiday exchange!

I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. Was it the convection bake setting? Did I let the dough get too warm before rolling the cookies? Did I screw up the recipe? What the heck happened? I used to be able to make these cookies in my sleep.

I looked back at the recipe and thought the ratio of flour (3 3/4 cups) to cream of tartar (1/2 teaspoon) and baking soda (1/2 teaspoon) seemed off. Maybe when I scaled the recipe the last time, I didn’t return the correct proportions to the ingredients in Mastercook. So I consulted Google to get another recipe.

I found Mrs. Sigg’s Snickerdoodles, the highest rated of the snickerdoodle recipes on Allrecipes.com. At 11:10 PM, I started from scratch following Mrs. Sigg’s instructions (though I didn’t have any shortening, I just used all butter, which is the way my normally successful recipe goes).

This time the dough felt like it should. I decided to forgo the convection bake and just use the regular old oven setting. Eight minutes after placing them in the oven, I pulled out a sheet of flat snickerdoodles. They looked better than my original batch, but they just weren’t puffing up like they usually do. Truthfully they looked like my old snickerdoodle’s tubercular, wasted cousin. But they were at least decent enough appearing that I could take them to the cookie exchange.

But now I am puzzled. What the heck is wrong with my snickerdoodles? Could it be something about my new ovens? Did the cream of tartar and/or the baking soda go bad? (I think these give the cookie its pillowy goodness, according to my cousin, Tyler) Did I overmix? (I’ve heard that you come out with two different appearing snickerdoodles when you mix by hand and when you use an electric mixer. Yet I think I have used an electric mixer before.) What happened to my always-perfect, never a problem, failsafe cookie?

Bloggy-chefs, please help me out?

Published by: teendoc on December 13th, 2007 | Filed under Uncategorized

12 Responses to “Honey, I Killed The Snickerdoodles”

  1. kidderkat Says:

    My god, the EXACT SAME THING happened to me this weekend, except with ginger molasses cookies. I’ve made them so many times and they’re always perfect. This Sunday they came out flat, ugly and all running into each other. (They taste fine, but I’m not handing them out to anyone.) I hypothesized that it was because I used an electric mixer instead of doing it by hand…..we’ll see. Round two is tonight.

  2. teendoc Says:

    I swear I’ve used an electric mixer before! I’ll have to try again by hand this weekend. I’m getting fat with this experimentation!

  3. millie Says:

    Zizi is soooo adorable. I can’t wait to see her next week. Oh, and you and Adoring Husband as well. But mostly her.

    Now for the cookie treatise.

    I’m thinking it’s likely a couple of things.

    Most likely temperature played a huge role. Most non-bakers don’t understand just how critical temperature is. If the dough felt too sticky, that could be not enough flour or more likely the dough got too warm. Dough really needs to be cool before baking. And the baking sheets need to be cool.

    The problem often is when you mix the dough, first you want to beat the butter to get it fluffy before adding the sugar, so it warms up but you want cool dough. So you should stick it in the fridge for 20 min to half an hour. Same with pie crusts.

    The ratio of cream of tartar to baking soda seems off to me. I think you typically want 1/2 ts cream of tartar to 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. And FWIW if you’re using both, you should just use baking powder (which IS both) for better results.

    Also, butter spreads. It tastes much better that shortening but it spreads. Some recipes will use a combination of shortening for puffiness and butter for taste.

    Another important consideration is the measuring. It is much much MUCH better to weigh dry ingredients like sugar and flour than to use a measuring cup. Flour is especially difficult because the moisture level changes depending on humidity/storage/etc. I know this probably sounds overly anal (even to you) but for consistency I almost never use measuring cups. I do if I’m forced to but I actually write in the weights on any recipe that doesn’t have weights. And I don’t trust many cookbooks/recipes that don’t at least include weights.

    Now about the convection ovens. If you are going to use convection you need to turn the temperature down or cut the time. You can pick but you must do one. Typically turn the temp down 25 degrees (if its at 350) or cut the time by about 25%.

    Oh and baking soda definitely goes bad. Baking powder goes bad as well. Cream of tartar doesn’t go bad. You can test baking powder by adding a little warm water to it. You can test baking soda by adding an acid (most commonly vinegar because it’s cheap).

    You did ask, right?

  4. beagle Says:


  5. avonlea Says:

    She’s got such delicious cheeks, I could eat her right up, forget about the cookies.

  6. Kellie Says:

    Oh my. Zizi is ADORABLE. Love that little grin!

    As far as the cookies go, I have no idea. hope that they turn out better next time.

  7. mrflippy Says:

    The same thing happened to me tonight as well. Though, usually mine haven’t turned out as puffy as it sounds like you’re describing, but they aren’t completely flat either. I did use an electric mixer for the first time today. I’ll have to try some of the suggestions millie has. My ingredient measurements may well have been off.

  8. roni Says:

    Don’t know crap about baking so I can’t answer that one. But I just wanted to stop by and say congrats on having the adoption be final – and without court – how awesome!!!

    She’s beautiful, and blessed to be in such a loving and lovely family. Mazel Tov.

  9. Louise Says:

    I don’t think I could add anything to Millie’s fabulous baking tips! 🙂

    Congrats on finalization!!!

  10. starfish Says:

    Just stumbled upon your blog – from one knitting adoptive mom to another – congrats on having your cutiepie officially be yours – she’s adorable.

    Oh and I’m sure the problem is the baking soda – probably bad. I make snickerdoodles by the hundreds for the holidays – my favorite!

  11. Judy BBX Says:

    Making Snickerdoodles right now…no time to read posts…but using a convection oven and it’s doing fine. Cut the temp by 25 degrees. I wanted to say that I used to make half butter, half shortening snickerdoodles and they were flat and runny. I think they have started adding more water to our butter. I used butter flavored Crisco and they came out like they used to, years ago.

  12. Dawn Says:

    I’m having the opposite problem…I’ve made the same recipe for years, and they’ve always turned out well…round, not too flat, but at least 3x as round as the balls I started with. I made some today (using a stand mixer) and the little suckers just baked and stayed the same size, only a little puffier! I now have snicker doodle ball looking things! What the heck?! I’m going to try again tonight and use either a hand mixer or mix by hand…hard to believe that would make that much difference, but perhaps it did!

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