Before delving into the Internet to research your cookie problem, I
consulted some of my cookbooks to see what I could find. Lets start
with the types of ingredients that cause a cookie to rise: the
Look for double acting baking powder. Single-acting baking powder
(tartrate or phosphate baking powder) goes to work as soon as it mixes
with liquid. If you dont bake those cookies immediately, the baking
powder loses effect.
Must be mixed with an acid, such as sour cream, buttermilk or yogurt
to rise. If your recipe calls for baking soda, it should be mixed with
the dry ingredients first, and the cookies should be baked as soon as
the batter is mixed.
Tiny living fungus that thrives on sweetness, warmth and moisture.
Generally used more often in bread than in cookies.
-Beaten eggs or egg whites:
These enclose air, which is forced to expand in a hot oven. Use room
temperature egg whites and a spotlessly clean bowl, and aim for
maximum volume when beating.
The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, by Marion Cunningham. Knopf, 1990.
Bear in mind that not all cookies are meant to rise high and be
fluffy. Some are intended to be thin and crispy. Or dense and chewy.
Make sure that your chosen recipe contains some kind of leavening
Next I checked Julia Child. She mentioned the importance of proper
measuring of flour:
Place a flour measuring cup over a sheet of waxed paper on a flat
surface. Sift the flour directly into the cup until it is overflowing.
Do not tap the cup or press down on the flour. Sweep off the excess
flour even with the lip of the cup, using the flat part of a knife.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Simone Beck, Louisette
Bertholle and Julia Child. Knopf, 1965.
Dipping the measuring cup directly into the flour and scooping can
cause you to be using too much flour in your cookie dough, which could
make your cookies heavy, rather than light and fluffy.
And while we are talking about measuring, be sure to measure ALL of
your ingredients correctly and carefully, and be sure to follow
exactly the directions in your recipe. Do not improvise; do not
deviate. At least until you have a recipe thats working! Then you can
experiment to your hearts delight.
Then I checked online to see what kind of information I could find.
Here are some hints from an iVillage article entitled How to Bake
Flat-free Cookies, by Sarah Phllips, the author of Healthy Oven
-Choose your butter carefully, and use butter, not margarine.
Margarine will make your cookies spread more, and if theyre
spreading, theyre obviously not rising.
-Dont over-cream the butter and sugar.
-A mixture of 50% butter and 50% shortening will not spread as much as
all butter, or become thin and crispy.
-Preheat the oven
-Have the baking sheet cold, and refrigerate the dough. You can even
for the cookies on the sheet and pop it into the freezer for 5 or 10
minutes. Again, this helps prevent spreading.
Cookies fall during baking for the following reasons:
So again, measuring carefully, both in the dough-making stage and when
scooping out the dough onto the cookie sheet, is important. Note that
too much leavening agent can be a problem, something that I would not
From Good Housekeeping in iVillage.com:
Problem: My cookies always seem to spread too much when I bake them.
Solution: You may be greasing the cookie sheet when the recipe doesn't
call for it or your cookie sheet may be too warm.
Here is a thread from the Google Groups forum alt.cookies.yum.yum
for years i have been successfully making oatmeal chocolate chip
cookies following my mother's recipe. however, the last 4-5 attempts
have yielded flat, unflattering (looking) results and i can't pinpoint
the cause. i've changed nothing, continuing to follow the recipe to
the letter. (the taste is the same; it's simply the flattened
appearance.) i am a self professed amateur cook/baker and would
welcome possible solutions to this flat cookie caper. thank you in
From: Jon Prather (email@example.com)
The speculation for the cause of the flat cookies ranged from humidity
to old ingredients to the amount of gluten in the flour. The
suggestion to buy a fresh box of baking soda/powder is a good one.
This unbelievably long link will take you to the entire thread:
I found another interesting thread at rec.food.baking on Google Groups
that offered the following suggestion:
One thing I learned from Cook's Illustrated: after I chill the cookie
dough, I take a 1/4 cup or chunk of the chilled dough and tear it into
2 equal parts with my fingers. Then I jam the 2 parts together again
so the jagged parts are facing upwards. Then place on the parchment or
baking sheet. I get these big fat chewy cookies that are about 3"
diameter and maybe 1/2 to 3/4" high.
From: twinky1156 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The entire thread is here:
So, snowboard, there are a lot of suggestions for you to try to solve
your flat cookie problem. I hope that you can find in here the secret
to tall and fluffy cookies. On your next batch, try out all of the
fundamentals: chose a recipe with leavening agents; follow the recipe
exactly and measure carefully; chill cookies and preheat oven before
baking. If your cookies still need tweaking, try some of the other
suggestions. Baking is part science and part art. I hope this sets you
on the road to becoming a cookie artist. If you should need any
clarification on any of the above, please do not hesitate to ask.
Search criteria on Google:
cookie OR cookies leavening OR rising agent