One thing about making and baking any cookie dough recipe that many people are not aware of is that you can actually ruin the texture of the dough by mixing it too much. A lot of cookie recipes fail to mention this and it can go unnoticed causing you to believe you simply added the wrong amounts of different ingredients. So in the post, I’ll share some key tips for how to fix over mixed cookie dough!
Table of Contents
- How To Know If Your Cookie Dough Is Over-Mixed
- Fixing Over-Mixed Dough
- Avoid Over-Mixing Cookie Dough
- Is It Bad To Over-Mix Cookie Dough?
- FAQs On Over Mixed Cookie Dough
How To Know If Your Cookie Dough Is Over-Mixed
To understand what overmixed dough actually is, it is helpful to know a bit more about different dough textures. You can have people tell you that you have crumbly cookie dough, dry cookie dough, sticky cookie dough, and so on. However, not being able to identify what one your dough fits under can be quite frustrating.
To fix dry cookie dough, you have to actually know if it is dry otherwise you would risk making things worse.
The main two types of dry cookie dough are crumbly and dry. There is a third type but that will be spoken about in a moment. The thing to understand is that crumbly cookie dough is completely different from its dry counterpart. Crumbly cookie dough has a lack of fat, which acts as a food version of superglue to a certain extent, causing the dough not to adhere to itself very well. The pieces that are stuck together will be relatively fine in terms of texture yet the dough breaks off into big chunks when you apply pressure.
Dry cookie dough, on the other hand, can be perfectly stuck together but when you apply pressure, it breaks off. There is a huge difference between chunks falling off with crumbly dough and chunks breaking off with dry dough. Think as dry dough being like a rock, if you hit it with a hammer or push too hard, it breaks off relatively cleanly but will have dust and crumbs everywhere.
The secret third option I mentioned is hard cookie dough. It is not crumbly as it is all stuck together quite well and it is not dry because it is perfectly moist enough. However, when you push it with your finger there is a lot of reistance and the dough just feels incredibly thick. If this is what you are experiencing, then you now know that it is due to overmixing your cookie dough.
What Is Overmixing?
Overmixing can be quite easy to explain and once you understand what it is, fixing or avoiding it is incredibly easy. Not to bore you or anything similar, but it is time for a quick science lesson.
When flour and water are introduced to each other, gluten starts forming. The two types of protein in flour do not interact with each other until water is added. It is at this point they start developing gluten.
As you knead or mix your dough, more and more gluten is developed which will be displayed in the doughs characteristics. This can be traits such as being more elastic, stretchy, and softer. As you continue to mix the dough once gluten has already formed, the strands of gluten keep getting longer and stronger. This is brilliant for people who are making bagels or something similar. But we are making cookies, or at least trying to.
If you mix your cookie dough too much, lots of gluten will form which can make the dough too hard and far too chewy. While it is easy to fix dry cookie dough, is it just as easy to fix this? Well, yes and no. While it isn’t a case of adding too much flour or melted butter, this is a matter of a flawed method in terms of mixing your dough. It can be partially rectified but the majority of the formed gluten will not go away.
However, once you know what overmixing is, you will start to subconsciously know that you should be cautious when mixing your dough. The first time you do it is always a bummer but you very quickly learn from this mistake and do better next time.
Alongside overmixing developing too much gluten in your dough, it also aerates it too much. A little bit of air or gas in dough is very helpful, hence why baking soda and baking powder are used a lot. But when you reach that sweet spot of the perfect amount of air in the dough, anything more will ruin your cookies.
Too much air in your dough will cause it to deflate and you will have very flat, crispy cookies instead of fluffy, chewy cookies.
Fixing Over-Mixed Dough
As mentioned, a lot of cookie recipes fail to mention the risk of overmixing. So it is not a surprise if you are yet to find a cookie recipe that tells you how to deal with and fix the issue.
While I did previously say it is almost impossible to get the developed gluten to under develop, there is a small way that you can revive the texture of your cookie dough as best as possible. After this, you will be able to bake cookies and forget that it ever happened.
If you want to play around with finding the perfect texture, following this 3 ingredient cookie recipe is a great way to do some testing without wasting loads of different ingredients.
How To Fix Dry Cookie Dough
While gluten does not undevelop, over time it will naturally soften and will stop being so prevalent in the food. This means that your best bet for fixing the overmixed cookie dough is going to be by letting the dough rest.
This should be done at room temperature as anything colder will harden the dough and anything hotter will start to melt the butter. Place all of your dough in a large bowl, or keep it in the mixing bowl you made it in, and cover it with cling film/plastic wrap. We cover the bowl as we do not want to expose the dough to the air for too long as this will dry it out, and we obviously don’t want to fix one issue just to be met by the need to start baking dry cookie dough.
Once you have the dough prepared in a bowl at room temperature, let it sit for an hour minimum. You can let it sit for 2 hours if you think you have really overmixed it.
After your dough has rested, it is very important that you do not mix it or play about with it anymore at all. This will only reactivate the gluten and start the whole issue over again. It is best to scoop your cookie dough and start putting your cookie balls on a baking sheet. You can also sprinkle some additional brown sugar over these as it makes for a very nice garnish.
As you are not meant to do anything to the dough post-resting, it is best to do whatever you need to do before resting the dough. This means adding chocolate chips if you are making chocolate chip cookies or adding other ingredients if you are wanting more vanilla extract or flavorings. It is best to stick with small additions at this point as if you were to add too much flour now, it would be very difficult to fix.
Avoid Over-Mixing Cookie Dough
As I said, now that you know what overmixing is, you are going to be able to easily avoid it due to a subconcious knowing that you will overmix it if you are not careful. However, there is still a good method that I like to follow just to make sure I do not overmix cookie dough at all.
Avoiding overmixing may sound like a difficult task but it is actually incredibly easy once you know a better method for mixing the dough.
You want to start off by mixing your butter and sugar together with a hand mixer or a whisk. Keep going until there is an airy and creamy butter mixture that peaks as you pull away from it. You do not want it peaking as much as a meringue would, but little peaks are fine. After this, add all of your other ingredients except from the flour and continue mixing until the previous consistency is back again. Here is the main part of this method, when you are adding your flour it is best to use your hands or a whisk to mix it in. Overmixing it would cause the airy texture to be removed so you want to be gentle. If you are adding any chocolate chips, fold them into the dough with a silicone spatula.
Is It Bad To Over-Mix Cookie Dough?
While it sounds like a dumb question with an obvious answer of “no”, overmixing dough is not always a bad thing. Cookie dough can be quite difficult to get to a perfect consistency and it is very common that you find a cookie recipe that calls for a texture you are not sure on. A lot of people have preferences of if they prefer chewy or crispy cookies and mixing the cookie dough and forming gluten is the best way to perfect the texture to your liking.
Mess around with the cookie dough and make a few different batches of delicious cookies with different intensities of mixing. Once you know how you like them, you can mix them perfectly every time.
FAQs On Over Mixed Cookie Dough
What happens if you over-mix cookie dough?
When you overmix cookie dough, far too much gluten is developed and strengthened which can give your dough a very hard texture. It is very different to crumbly cookie dough and dry cookie dough and is caused by mixing the dough for too long.
How do I fix messed up cookie dough?
Messed up cookie dough can be fixed in many different ways. Although before fixing it, you have to know how it is messed up. It can be a multitude of issues such as being too dry, too wet, too sticky, too crumbly, and so on. Identify what is wrong with it and then you can find an appropriate solution.
How do you fix sugar cookie dough that is too sticky?
Sugar cookie dough that is too sticky can easily be fixed by adding a tiny amount of flour to it, or by rolling small balls of the dough in powdered sugar. You are wanting to absorb all the excess moisture without drying the dough out and causing it to be too dry.