Part 1: Flour Fest
In a world of desserts, there can be only one tasty treat that reigns supreme. In my humble opinion, the only confection that could ever stand above the rest is the tried and true chocolate chip cookie. However, even within narrow definition of chocolate chip cookie there is room for variance. This is why I have made it my mission to discover what the trick is to making the very best chocolate chip cookie that can possibly be, and I hope that you enjoy the journey.
In order to find the best of the best, we are going to have to get sciency and start isolating variables. I can think of no better place to start than the keystone that holds the whole cookie together: flour. This post will focus on making only flour our altered variable.
I have chosen to experiment with three different types of flour:
- Bread – High Protein Content for a bit of High Rise Flare
- All Purpose – The Swiss Army Knife of Ground Grain
- Cake Flour – Finely Milled and Low Protein for Maximum Crumbly Goodness
After I decided what I wanted to test, I was left to think about how to conduct my experiment. It was unlikely that the winner would be all of any given flour variety, so I felt it necessary to test a gradient of mixtures of flower. The proportions I chose were as follows:
- 100% Cake
- 100% All Purpose
- 100% Bread
- 50% Bread 50% Cake
- 50% All Purpose 50% Cake
- 50%All Purpose 50%Cake
- 33% All Purpose 33% Bread 33%Cake
I wanted to start off with a fairly neutral cookie in order to highlight the differences within the flour, so I scanned the internet and found several popular chocolate chip cookie recipes and combined them, and I ended up with:
- 1 Cup of Softened Butter
- 1 Cup of Sugar
- 1/2 Cup of Brown Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla
- 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 2.25 Cups of Flour
- 2 Cups of Chocolate Chips
Of course these proportions would not do, because I did not need seven full batches of cookies, so I had to pull out the Excel Spreadsheets. I wanted to do quarter batches, so I decided to combine the sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs all in one big batch and then divide that out evenly into seven parts. To find the proper proportions I divided the recipe for these ingredients by four and then multiplied by seven. This gave me the right amount of wet ingredients and sugar to mix into the seven half-batches of cookies that I needed to make.
Next was for the flour, baking soda, and salt. I quartered the ingredients in the recipe and was careful to keep careful track of what kinds of flour was in which flour was which as I combined them into separate bowls.
Now I just had to combine the ingredients. I measured out seven equal parts of the wet ingredients and added to a stand mixer on a slow speed. As it was mixing, I slowly added the half cup of chocolate chips to each and then stuck them in the freezer for a quick chill.
Finally it was time to bake, several of the recipes had said to bake at 375° and one said 350°, so I went with an even 365° for about 13 minutes. As it was baking you could observe that anything with cake flour flattened very quickly and those with bread flour chose to retain their shape.
Just like in the picture above, cookies were laid out from left to right in the following order:
- 1/3 Each
- All Purpose
- 1/2 Bread 1/2 All Purpose
- 1/2 Bread 1/2 Cake
- 1/2 Cake 1/2 All Purpose
I also alternated between doing two and three of each in order to fit them on one baking sheet.
Finally! It was time for the moment of truth.
The cake flower led to a very fluffy cookie that crumbled very easily. However, it did not have the chewiness that one looks for in a quality cookie.
This one was a bit chewier than the cake, but was also a little too bread-like. Better, but not ideal.
All Purpose Flour
All Purpose flour gave a texture that was very familiar, but not outstanding. It had more height than the ones with cake flour, but it seemed a little caky.
These were by far the most ball-like of the cookies. They were delightfully chewy, but as the name of the flour would suggest, they were also very bread-like. Also not perfect for cookie-making.
1/2 Bread 1/2 All Purpose Flour
This was a light and chewy cookie that was certainly better than just bread flour. However, it still resembled bread too much.
1/2 Bread 1/2 All Purpose Flour
This was a soft and crumbly cookie that also had a little bit of chewiness to it. However, it seemed a little bit too crumbly and not quite chewy enough.
1/2 Bread 1/2 Cake Flour
As soon as I bit into this one I knew we had a clear winner, perfectly balanced… as all things should be. Somehow, the bread flour maintained its chewy goodness without cancelling out the crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth delicateness of the cake flour. From now on, I will be making my chocolate chip cookies with this mixture.
I would encourage you to try this experiment for yourself and leave me your thoughts, but if you want to take my word for it, feel free to do that to. Now that it has been established which mix has the most flour power, I can move on with the next phase of my plan to make the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie…SUGAR!