Cookies. What a fantastic and delicious little treat. You can’t go wrong with a batch of cookies, everyone loves them.
Most people, including me, will usually reach for all purpose flour (plain flour). There is nothing wrong with that and plain flour makes delicious cookies.
But, do you only have to limit yourself to one type of flour? Can you make cookies with bread flour, for instance?
Changing the flour you use when making cookies could really improve the quality and texture of your cookie, so let’s take a look at what flour to use for cookies!
Cookies sound so simple to make, but when they come out flat, hard, too crispy or too cakey, what’s the beef?
It’s no secret that cookies can have a mind of their own and can come out of the oven completely different to what you envisioned.
Baking cookies involve a bit of science and some background knowledge. It’s not as easy as just following a recipe and hoping for the best.
I followed cookie recipes for years and most of the time, my cookies would come out too thin, too crisp and would spread out far too much.
I am a chucky, soft in the middle, crisp on the outside cookie kind of gal, so you can imagine my disappointment when I am met with the thinnest, ugliest cookies.
When I started playing around with ingredients, I realised how much of a difference flour can make.
Flour plays a huge role in cookies. It gives cookies their structure and texture. Flour can determine whether your cookies come out chewy, crispy, soft or cakey.
What differentiates flours to one another is the amount of protein they contain and how much gluten they produce.
The more protein in the flour, the more gluten it will produce and the chewier your cookie will be.
On the other hand, a flour that has low protein content will produce less amount of gluten and will make for a softer and delicate cookie.
Bread flour is a popular type of flour that is used for making bread. It has a protein content of 12%-14%.
Bread flour has one of the highest amounts of protein and creates the most gluten. Gluten is what makes bread very chewy and pillow-like.
Bread flour is probably not the type of flour you would reach out for when making cookies, or for anything really, unless it’s bread.
But, would using bread flour in cookies work? Absolutely!
If you substitute your usual flour to bread flour for cookies, you will find that your cookies will come out incredibly chewy with a slight crisp on the outer edge.
Cookies with bread flour will keep their structure more in the oven and won’t spread out much, meaning you’ll have quite a chunky cookie in your hands.
I personally like a chunky, chewy cookie, so I love using bread flour in my cookies.
But, for others, these cookies might be too soft and too pliable, especially if you tend to reach out for a crispy, thin cookie.
Cake flour has a very low protein level, around 7%-8%, depending on the brand. This means that it doesn’t produce a lot of gluten.
Cake flour is mainly used when baking cakes as it yields a very light, soft and fluffy sponge.
Cake flour works well with cake sponges as you want your cake to be super soft, but would it work with cookies?
This type of flour is heavily bleached to weaken the gluten content. Due to the lack of gluten, the flour absorbs more liquid and holds onto a lot of moisture.
A cookie needs to have a strong structure so it doesn’t fall apart and with cake flour you won’t get the sturdiness you are looking for in a cookie.
Your cookies with 100% cake flour will turn out too cakey and too soft to handle.
If you do want a soft, on the cakier side cookie, the best thing to do would be to combine both cake flour and plain flour.
By using 50% plain flour and 50% cake flour, you should get a cookie that is sturdy, yet soft without falling apart.
Whole wheat flour is probably not the first type of flour that springs to mind when making cookies. Whole wheat flour is used to make delicious brown bread packed with fibre.
Whole wheat flour is made using the whole kernel and has a distinctively darker color compared to white flour.
Like bread flour, whole wheat flour has a protein content of around 11%-15%. This is quite high and gives the impression that it will create lots of gluten, making for a very chewy and soft loaf of bread.
Despite the high protein content, whole wheat flour makes quite a dense loaf. This is because the gluten structure is much weaker due to the presence of bran in the flour.
If you were to use whole wheat flour in cookies, your cookie will be denser and have a darker color. It also doesn’t spread the cookie out as much and maintains quite a tight, chunky structure.
Having said that, if you are looking to make a ‘healthy’ cookie with more nutrients, using whole wheat flour is definitely worth a try!
Self rising flour is probably up there with one of the most used flours, alongside plain flour.
It is perfect for making fluffy pancakes, cakes and muffins as the presence of baking powder makes the batter rise in the oven.
Self rising flour is probably not what you would instantly reach for when making cookies.
Cookies are known to be relatively flat, so surely self rising flour would make cookies rise too much in the oven, right?
Yes and no. This depends on the recipe you are using. If the recipe already includes baking powder, adding self rising flour on top of that will really change the texture of your cookie.
They can also end up being too flat or too fluffy, depending on the amount of baking powder present.
If you do use self rising flour for your cookies, make sure to omit the baking powder (if in the recipe).
Too much baking powder not only will make your cookies taste like chemicals, it could make them very flat (too much raising agent will have the completely opposite effect).
All-purpose flour (also known as plain flour) is probably the most commonly used flour and one that I make sure I have a constant supply of.
Plain flour everyone’s top choice when it comes to cookies, mine included.
Plain flour has a higher protein level, between 9%-11% depending on which brand you buy.
This puts plain flour in the mid-range protein level, meaning it’s perfect for cakes, cookies, muffins and all our favourite baked desserts.
To get the right balance between a soft middle and crunchy exterior to your cookie, using plain flour is your best bet!
If you do want to have a more chewy texture to your cookie, try using a mix of both plain flour and bread flour.
This should create the right texture without being ridiculously chewy that it sticks to your teeth.
So, what is the best flour for cookies? Every flour is different and will yield a completely different cookie.
What flour you use really comes down to what texture you want your cookie to be. Soft and chewy, or crisp and thin?
Using cake flour for cookies is probably not the best, especially if you are planning on using 100% cake flour.
If you like a soft cookie, try a 50-50 cake flour/plain flour mix and see how you get on.
You can always adjust flour levels after you’ve tried your first batch.
If you like a chewy cookie, give bread flour a try. If you find it’s too chewy, subbing in some plain flour will balance out the texture.
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