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I used this recipe to make ginger molasses cookies. Though the cookies tasted great, my cookies didn't develop any cracks in them like the ones in the picture. I tried baking them for longer, but that just resulted in them becoming more crispy and browned a little more.

How should I modify the recipe to get the traditional cracks in the cookie?

EDIT: The only modification I made to the recipe was to use unsalted butter instead of margarine.

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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Chris hinted at it -- to get the cracks, you need to have the top set early, so it's not going to expand while the middle's still trying to rise, and there's still enough leavening left to break through the crust that formed.

You have a few things that can go wrong:

  1. The oven isn't hot enough. (it needs to set the top before the middle's fully risen)
  2. Not enough leavening (it needs to be strong enough to crack the top once it's set)
  3. Using a single-acting baking powder (double acting gives extra rise when it gets heated)
  4. Not creaming the fat long enough (creaming cuts little air pockets into the fat, which means the leavening has to do less work)
  5. Making too thin of cookies (you need enough mass in the middle so it finishes cooking after the top's set).
  6. Mixing the dough too much (you don't want to develop gluten; it needs to be tender enough to crack easily)

As Jennifer mentioned -- old baking soda can be a problem. I'd also consider investing in an oven thermometer to make sure that it's really providing the temperature the dial claims, as those are the two things that are going to be the most difficult to judge if they're a problem or not.

You'll also want to make sure the oven is properly pre-heated (so it doesn't loose all its heat when you open the door to put the cookies in), and avoid opening the door again 'til it's time to pull them. If you have to rotate them (as the oven cooks unevenly), do it as quickly as possible so the oven's not open for very long.

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I get way more cracks when I refrigerate the dough the day before. Probably because in a hot oven, the exterior of the cold dough cooks (sets) first, then the center takes longer. –  ash Jan 22 at 3:04
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If you have a fan assisted oven you might try turning on the fan for a short period when the cookies have flattened out in order to form a crust as quickly as possible. If a crust forms before leavening is complete, you should get cracks.

A tip that I have seen in another recipe is to pull each dough ball apart with your fingers into rough halves and then squash them back together, again roughly so that the join between the two halves is still visible. This uneven clump of dough is more likely to produce cracks. In my experience, however, the cracks are not as attractive as those in the linked image.

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I don't have a fan in my oven, though that suggestion seems like it might work. The dough in this particular recipe comes out very sticky(maybe because of the molasses?) and so, the second suggestion might not be feasible, but thanks :) –  Dharini Chandrasekaran Aug 28 '12 at 16:46
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Have you considered getting a new box of baking soda? Or perhaps try using butter instead of the margarine? Possibly you are not getting enough leavening to cause the cookies to crack as they bake. The kind of fat used might also affect the way the cookies rise, not making them crack.

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Actually I did use butter instead of margarine. But maybe the baking soda was the issue..Will edit the question to include the butter substitution. –  Dharini Chandrasekaran Aug 27 '12 at 20:22
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Use a couple drops of water on top of each cookie:

  1. Roll them into balls
  2. Place them on your baking sheet
  3. Sprinkle water on the top of each ball
  4. Put in pre-heated oven
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At what point do you add the drops of water? Before, during, after cooking? –  lemontwist Dec 28 '12 at 13:15
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