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Baking soda or baking powder in cookies?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I've been trying to come up with my own version of the "Neimann-marcus" or "Double Tree Inn" type of chocolate chip cookie. It is a rich and chewy chocolate chip cookie using a blend of flour and ground up oatmeal. I've been looking at recipes all over the internet and do think that most drop style cookies are overleavened by (most commonly) baking soda and baking powder. Which leavening action do you prefer? For choc. chip cookies, I ususally go for a minimal amount of b.soda. Too much and it affects spread, color and taste.

P.s. I just tried some samples of Tom's cookies from San Francisco. Excellent, but not cheap either.
post #2 of 17
I never seem to have much luck baking cookies. They always spread too thin. I'd love to learn how to get a thicker chewier cookie that holds it's shape in the oven without overdoing the leavening.
It seems to me that there is not a lot of liquid in cookie batters to activate the baking soda. And there is usually a lot of butter which makes the batter quite heavy so the leavening agent has a lot of work to do to make it rise. Have you tried a combination of soda and powder? You can cut down on the soda with it's unpleasant aftertaste and get the benefit of the heat activated component in the powder.
I'm not much of a baker so I may be talking through a hole in my head, but it's just a thought.

Jock
post #3 of 17
Being unfamiliar with the specififc cookies you're referring to, I find that most choc. chip recipes contain mostly BP, and maybe a touch of soda. I swear that the soda is virtually useless in these recipes, because there's never an acid for it to react with. So if you're going for any leavening at all, I would just use BP.
post #4 of 17
When recipes call for baking soda along with baking powder, there's acid in the recipe. Baking soda alone won't leaven without an acid and a liquid; when it combines with the acid and the liquid, it releases carbon dioxide in the form of air bubbles, which leaven it and create a tender crumb. Acids with the power to leaven baking soda include cream of tartar, buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream, molasses, dark brown sugar, maple syrup, citrus juices, or non-alkalized cocoa powder.

Baking powder is a combination of ingredients uses two different acid salts to interact with the liquid and the second acid reacts to the heat of the oven, expanding the bubbles.

This was summarized from Regan Daley's 'In the Sweet Kitchen'; she goes into much more detail.

Lots of things affect the cookie's spread in the oven; oven temp., butter versus margarine versus crisco; temp. of the dough itself (I get a better result if I chill even chocolate chip dough, even though recipes don't call for it.

Maida Haetter's cookie books are what I consider the bible of cookie chemistry - she does a wonderful job of explaining the art of cooking making!
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post #5 of 17
I use baking soda in my chocolate chip cookies and light brown sugar, and something's going on in there-- they spread, puff, and fall back. Must be enough acid somewhere. I got Regan Daley's book for Christmas, at least I didn't spend money on it, and find some of her comments to be absolute throwaways...read what she says about instant yeast. Clearly she has no idea what she's talking about.
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post #6 of 17
There's The Hat we all know and love :-) Nancy Silverton, Regan Daley... am I sensing a pattern here? Just kidding :)
At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals.
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At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals.
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post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
I've done side by side comparisons of choco. chip cookies with either b.powder or BS, and the one with BS is always the winner. I use about 1/2 t. for 2 cups of flour or in baker's % somewhere between 0.70% to 1%, as long as there is brown sugar in the recipe. For snickerdoodles and such(using only plain sugar) I opt for baking powder.
post #8 of 17
I accidentally had a little experiment with this exact topic in the last two weeks. I made two batches of double chocolate chip cookies (chocolate dough with chocolate chips). The recipe I used was from Alice Medrich. It called for both baking powder and baking soda with a lesser amount of baking soda. I used up all my baking soda to clean up some doggie mess and didn't have time to go to the store, so I just left the baking soda out. I didn't think 1/4 tsp would make all that much difference. The cookies tasted very good, but they didn't puff up then fall as usual. They didn't have the nice cracked exterior that I like, they didn't spread as much and they weren't as chewy. I made another batch last weekend with the baking soda and they spread more,had the cracked exterior and were chewier. There was no noticeable difference in flavour. I've tried same yield recipes with more than 1/4 tsp baking soda and those had that awful tinny taste.

Summary: baking soda required but in small amounts in proportion to flour.
post #9 of 17
Risa and Angrychef - the baking soda worked for you because chocolate and brown sugar are both acids.

TheBigHat - Maida Haetter gives the same info in her cookie books re baking soda/powder as does Regan Daley.
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post #10 of 17
Maybe I should clarify what I stated earlier. What I was getting at is that there are a lot of recipes out there that call for soda, and have no acid present for it to react with. Clearly, when you are usingcocoa, sour cream, honey, etc., you'll need to use it. In that case, it makes a big difference.

My choc. chip recipe calls for 1/2 gran. sugar, and half light brown. Hardly enough acid to warrant equal parts BP and soda.

That's all I'm sayin':)
post #11 of 17
Seeing that you've all addressed the soda vs. powder issue I'd like to mention a few other thoughts with these cookies.

It's been awhile since I played with theses but as I recall I found I prefered the recipes that were very modest with their oatmeal quantitys. When I ground them as finely as suggested (like into a flour) it made the cookie heavier then I prefered, you couldn't detect the good oatmeal flavor like the gourmet cookies you bought and they baked too dry around the whole exterior. Then they always became too firm when cooled (even when underbaked). So I liked them best with oatmeal that was barely chopped.

I found a couple recipes put out by Nestles that I switched out their fillings... I can't think of their names off hand (cowboy cookies and ...?), but they were like a combo of raisins, oatmeal and milk choc. chips and when you pull out the raisins and change the chips it's pretty close to what your looking for.

Theirs also a series of 3 baking books written by "Rosie" (not the lady from Oprah). I thought she was really brilliant with cookies. They're soft cover books and don't have photos (maybe blue colored). It's not something I would ordinarily notice at the store but my Mom turned me on to her. If you get a chance I promise her book is worth the effort of locating and buying it. Her cakes and other pastries are not on the same level at all...but man can she make cookies.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #12 of 17
Actually I like the book a lot, but sometimes you see this disinformation that is just off the wall. Gale Gand had some similar bs in her book regarding pastry flour, but she had a ghost writer apparently. And according to her, there is no gluten in pastry flour. OK.
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It's not Dairy Queen.
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post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Wendy, the key to the cookie is definitely the oats to flour ratio. The original recipe floating out there on the web has too many oats and is overleavenend. I do like what the oats do to the cookie texture ---crisps up on the outside but it's still soft and chewy on the inside.
post #14 of 17
Actually, I've always thought that the leavening in chocolate chip cookies came mostly from the creaming of fat and sugar (the granular shape of sugar cuts through the butter and allows for air to incorporate) and the eggs (remember that this is leavener as well). Once I made cookies and forgot about the baking soda and they came out very similarly to the normal product I get. The most striking difference was in color. The small amount of baking soda I use in my recipe is there to promote browning. Indeed, the cookies made without the soda paled by comparison (hee hee). I did detect a slight difference in texture. The cookies made without the soda was a bit more dense and crunchy in a hard way (but not disturbingly so). So I do believe that there is enough acid from the brown sugar in the recipe and enough liquid form the eggs to create a reaction in the final product.

Most of the cookies I make don't have any chemical leaveners. I guess that's because I tend to make butter cookies. I do favor baking powder in my sugar cookies. But for drop cookies (choc. chips, oatmeal, molassses) I use baking soda.

Once, my prep cook mistakenly subbed baking soda for baking powder in my scone recipe. I was shocked to find flat green scones with very browned tops in the oven when I went to give the sheet pan a turn halfway through the baking time.
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SmartGirl to the rescue!
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post #15 of 17

best cookies ever in the whole wide world

Try Maida Heatter's 'Big Sur' chocolate chip cookies. I make these regularly and they always bring raves!!!
Cakes are only as good as what you put in them.
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Cakes are only as good as what you put in them.
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post #16 of 17
I also like Alice Medrich's recipe for Chocolate Chip cookies which calls for 1 teaspoon baking soda for 2 1/4 cups of flour. It also calls for granulated sugar and brown sugar.

She uses melted butter instead of creaming it but her mixture must be refrigerated for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Works every time with rave reviews. :lips:
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
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K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
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post #17 of 17
If I left CC cookie dough in the fridge that long, it would be gone!!!!
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