Making cookies is a combination between science and art. Even the slightest change in the ingredients or misreading the instructions may lead to different results. Proper maintenance of the cooker is also of importance. Think about what happens when the stove’s chamber walls are covered with a thick layer of greasy burnt-on leftovers.
Three main tips-read the recipe carefully before you start, make sure you have everything you need in front of you when cooking, clean and maintain your cooker. In case you have recently bought a brand new, hi-tech cooker, you can relax. The contemporary ovens with proper ventilation spread out the heat evenly. That’s why their owners may not have any problems with burning the pastries. If, on the other hand, you have a regular oven, or you still have problems with cooking pastry, here are a couple of tips how to prevent your baking goods from burning.
I got inspired to write this because of a recent weekend trip to Coventry. Me and my kiddos visited a local lovely bakery there and had these awesome Coventry god cakes. They were traditionally made by godparents (I believe that’s still valid and it happens) to give out on Christenings. Made of puff-pastry with delicious "mincemeat" inside, they were perfectly baked with nothing burnt on them. Nothing meaty about the "mincemeat" as well - dried fruits, nuts, brandy, cinnamon, sugar and many more combine in this special filling, the recipes of which vary throughout the ages. This dessert is just about as British as it can get, and I was surprised the locals in Coventry have a vague idea that it exists.
When I tried to replicate it at home, I wasn’t so impressed though. The bottom part was a bit burned and their taste was a bit off. As it wasn’t the first time it happened, I had to stop for a second and rethink my oven baking strategy with tips from friends and cooking articles. Seemed like I had to do some scrubbing and some shopping for a better gear. Here’s what I found out and what helped me deal with burnt cookies once and for all.
First thing’s first - I cleaned my cooker
You wouldn’t know how much dirt it got there. I haven’t bothered to check out what’s going on for the last couple of months and, as a result, the caked-on food and oil splatters gave me a hard time. Packed with elbow grease and a good oven cleaner, I made the first problem go away. Well, it didn’t work out immediately - it took my whole afternoon to scrub, then a couple of hours to let the detergents sit and act and finally - rinsing them. No more nasty smells - good riddance. It really turned out the way professional oven cleaning technicians say it happens - if you cook a lot at home and you don’t clean your stove at least once a couple of months - then you are in for a serious trouble.
Choose a fitting tray for the oven
Next step - find what’s the problem with the baking tray. I learned that it’s best to bake the cookies in a heavy, light-coloured, shallow tray. If the baking dish has an in-built airy level, that will prevent the bottom heaters from burning the sweets.
Covering the bottom of the tray with baking paper will also add up to the insulation from excessive heating and help for even baking. You can also use a silicon baking pad. I got the second. Easier to clean - just rinsing it under the sink is enough.
Bake the cookies on an upper level in the oven. As far away from the bottom heaters as possible.
When the cookies gain a slightly golden colouring, but they need just a little bit more time to brown well, do not leave the stove unattended. They will burn very fast. Stay there and watch over them, in order to turn off the cooker on time.
Peeking through the window might be difficult, though, if it is too dirty. You should know that opening the stove’s door frequently will lose the heat and mess up the cooking time. Therefore, I prefer to use the glass for it’s true purpose and clean the smudges.
Find a cooking thermometer for an oven. That will allow for easier temperature control and tracking.
If all those measures still don’t work and the cookies burn every time, check the real temperature in the oven during baking. It’s highly possible that the cooker thermostat is broken and the chamber heats more than it should.
- Avoid dark baking trays - the cookies get a dark colouring easier from them.
- The trays with high walls stop the temperature flow towards the cookies, which slows the baking from up top. This way, while you are waiting to brown, they are already burning from the bottom.
- Don’t neglect your oven chamber.
What do you need:
- Aluminium flat tray
- Baking paper
- Silicon baking pad
- Cooking oven thermometer
- Patience to clean before and after
Contributed by http://www.ovencleanteam.co.uk/