What Makes Cookies Chewy?
As someone who has never made cookies before, I was curious about this question. Cookies are often described as soft or chewy when cooked, but I couldn’t quite figure out the science behind it all. So I did some research, and here is what I found!
It turns out there are four main properties of a cookie that help to give them its chewy texture.
1) The sugar in the cookie is not fully dissolved at room temperature, so it forms crunchy crystals on top of each other.
2) The starch molecules aren’t fully gelatinized, so they have no place to go when they get squeezed together by your fork or spoon.
3) The fat is solid at room temperature, so it holds large water droplets together.
4) The flour is still somewhat raw, so it acts as a binding agent between the sugar crystals, starch molecules, and fat water droplets.
When these four main properties are combined, the cookie stays chewy. If any one of them were to be changed, the cookie’s texture would also change! For example, if all of the sugar is dissolved, you will have no crunchy crystals to hold the cookie together.
If you add too much moisture to the cookie, then there will be no place for your water droplets to go. The water should stay together in a small pool of fat, but if there is too much moisture in the cookie, it will escape from the big droplet and should not form smaller droplets.
The flour also plays a role in the cookie’s texture. If you add more flour than necessary, your cookie will stay chewy, but you’ll start to notice that it resembles a cake more than it does a cookie!
What Makes Cookies Cakey?
Now that we know what makes a cookie chewy, I thought it would be fun to kind of combine the two questions. What makes a cookie cakey?
In most cookies, you make basic cookie dough with some added fat and sugar. You then fold in some powdered sugar or cocoa powder. This is the perfect recipe for a “cakey” texture. However, with cookies, it is hard to mix in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder evenly with your arms full of dough, so you end up folding that into the dough with a big spatula or spoon instead of folding it into the middle of the dough with your hands. This makes for a nice texture because the dough doesn’t get overworked.
In case you take a liquid mixture of eggs, sugar, and liquid ingredients and pour that into a bowl containing wheat flour. Then you mix it for 5-8 minutes with a big whisk or spoon.
This is what makes cakes different from cookies. The cookie dough doesn’t have this long mixing time, so the gluten in your wheat flour doesn’t have time to develop as much as it does in a cake batter.
When the gluten develops appropriately, it makes a big web between all of the solids in your batter and creates small pockets of air throughout the rest of your batter. This creates a very light and fluffy texture.
When you over mix your cookie dough, you may end up with gluten that is underdeveloped or partially developed. This means that it won’t hold the pocket of air together as well as it should, which gives your cookies a crumbly texture.
There are ways to combat this, though! If you use baker’s flour instead of all-purpose flour, or if you use cake flour instead of all-purpose flour, that will help develop more gluten in your dough!
The other way to combat this problem is actually by adding fat! When fat is used in baking, it coats the protein strands in your wheat flour. This means that your gluten won’t have as much work to do holding all of those pockets of air together, so it will start to develop more slowly.
One last way to prevent crumbly cookies is by adding fat at the end of your mixing. This can help to make sure that all of the air pockets are distributed throughout the flour.
So, if you want a tremendous chewy cookie, I suggest using all-purpose flour and a lot of butter! A good ratio of fat to the flour would be 1/2 cup butter for every cup of flour. However, if you want a crumbly cookie, use cake flour and baking powder instead of baking soda. Also, make sure not to overmix your dough!
Q1. What gives a chewy cookie its texture?
A1. I’m not sure if it’s 100% accurate, but my best guess would be that the sugar crystals are bonding with each other to form a web throughout the cookie. This web is bound together by your fork or spoon as you cut through your cookie, so it gives the cookie its chewiness.
Q2. What gives a cakey texture?
A2. The most crucial factor in cake making is developing high gluten flour! Add more flour and then knead longer to develop more gluten! If you use less flour or mix faster, then you’ll get crumbly cookies and cakes!
Q3. Is Baking Soda Or Powder Better For Making Cookies With?
A3. It depends on what you’re going for! Baking powder will create a cakier texture because it creates air pockets with carbon dioxide, which will then swell with moisture from your eggs or liquids. If you don’t want a cakey texture, then just use baking soda! Use about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour. It is pretty starchy, though, so it will make a chewy cookie if you use too much of it!