Did You Know?The biggest cookie in the world measures 102 feet wide and 40,000 pounds! It was made by the American cookie company, Immaculate Baking Co. Imagine the cookie sheet they must have used!
There's so much to do during the holiday season; right from planning the menu for the Christmas feast, to selecting the wines, purchasing gifts, and numerous other things. Then, of course you need to bake Christmas cookies that simply need to turn out perfect, because you are short of time for a second shot. However, amidst all the hustle and bustle of the season, many tend to overlook a simple, yet crucial factor that determines the fate of your precious Christmas cookies―a cookie sheet!
You probably never gave much thought to this flat piece of metal; however, this basic sheet also plays a crucial role in baking the perfect cookies. Have you ever wondered why your cookies spread or brown too much? Well, there's a big possibility that the cookie sheet you're using has something to do with it. While there isn't a brand out there that can be labeled as the ideal one, because what works for one doesn't really work that well for another, let's take a look at certain factors that you should consider before purchasing a cookie sheet.
What to Look for in a Cookie Sheet
Cookie sheets are available in different materials from stainless steel, nonstick, or aluminum, and while each one seems to work, they affect the way your precious cookies bake very differently. Aluminum or stainless steel cookie sheets are preferred because they result in evenly browned cookies. Some prefer the nonstick variety, because removing the cookies seems easier; however, with this material, cookies tend to get browned in excess because of its darker surface. Bakers then adjust the oven temperature to a lower one to get optimally browned cookies. Then there's also the insulated variety, which comprises two aluminum sheets separated by a layer of insulating air. But the problem with this variety is that it doesn't result in optimal browning and even causes the cookies to turn out thin and wet.
: Opt for aluminum baking sheets, because they deliver well-browned cookies.
Dark or Shiny
Irrespective of the material, the sheet may come in the dark, light, or shiny varieties. Darker sheets absorb heat faster, thus, causing the cookies to bake faster and result in over-browned cookies. Dark aluminum sheets that come with a black finish must be avoided. Most nonstick pans are darker due to their nonstick coating, so it's best to avoid them. However, stay away from the lighter nonstick ones as well, as they result in drier cookies (although many prefer to use them). Then, there are shiny sheets whose sheen reflects heat, thereby, preventing it from heating the cookies evenly.
Purchase a light-colored aluminum sheet with a dull finish. It may not look glamorous but does the job perfectly.
Thin or Thick
The thin or lightweight baking sheets available in local supermarkets tend to warp or buckle in the hot oven, resulting in uneven baking of the cookies. Thicker or heavier cookie sheets allow the cookies to brown evenly and at a gradual pace. They may cost more; however, they are worth it because they won't result in excess browning. Moreover, these sheets are sturdy, durable, and do well in the long run.
Purchase a thick cookie sheet if you're looking into frequent baking. If baking cookies is a new whim of yours, opt for the cheaper thin sheets and then move on to thick ones if you're going to stick to cookie baking.
Large or Small
Cookies need space to spread out, and need to be spaced out well on the sheet. This means that you need a decently large sheet to hold a considerable number of cookies, and prevent them from connecting with each other. An 18" x 13" sized sheet would be ideal; however, there's another factor that needs to be considered before purchasing the sheet. You need to consider the size of your oven. Always ensure your cookie sheet is two inches shorter than your oven's interior dimensions. This will ensure even circulation of heat and air, and will ensure evenly browned cookies.
Opt for the largest sheet size your oven can comfortably hold.
One, Two, or Three
Purchase 3 cookie sheets for convenience. If you insist on having just one, make sure you wait for it to cool completely before placing raw dough on it.
With or Without Raised Edges
The definition of a cookie sheet would be a sheet with one raised edge and three flat edges. The presence of flat edges helps heat distribute evenly and also allows you to transfer the cookies to the cooling rack with ease. While some swear that the best cookie sheet is the one without lips on two sides, those with raised edges aren't particularly bad. In fact, the edges make it easier to hold the hot tray. The ones with edges are called jelly roll pans or bun pans, and also do a pretty good job. But, it's a personal preference.
If you plan to bake other foods often, opt for a jelly roll pan which will serve more than one purpose.
The above-mentioned points are just suggestions. Many bakers will vouch that they've baked on different kinds of sheets and obtained the best of results. So, if you feel you know your cookie sheet well, and it's been delivering without a hitch, go ahead and continue using it. However, if you're among those who've been wondering why your cookie recipe doesn't seem to work, you may want to check out our pointers.