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This may sound like a stupid question, but I am not sure what to do. Even though I am not a professional, I was on a course and I am not allowed to post any recipe [copyrights thing].

I relocated from Israel to the States (California) and I have some recipes with me, all using accurate units of measurement in grams.

When I decided to bake some cookies, I noticed the dough was not even close to what I know... it was really dry and instead of it to be 1 piece at the end of mixing, it was still powder, no matter how long it was processed [and it shouldn't be processed a lot at all].

Reading a bit online, sounds like these results are usually because of too much flour, but as I said I know this recipe and it is working in my home country.

I wonder if people in the US know the differences in ingredients between [I assume] Europe to the US [I think butter and flour mainly], if I need to do some conversions or maybe to buy a different brands?

The reason I'm not sure it is that important is because we are talking in "bakers percentage", so in general flour is 100% and in cookies case, the fat is ~50%, I can tell the rest of ingredients which are: almond flour [ground almonds basically], shredded coconut, ground sugar, eggs, butter and salt.

Since its' all measured in grams, I feel like ingredients [mainly flour, butter] are different here than in Israel, but no idea how : )

I don't do anything differently as some people suggested... I made them several times and what I did here is no different than the way I made them back in my home country :)

UPDATE:

Thanks all! Will try to provide all answers again :)

Before that..Please don't modify my post unless it is inappropriate [which usually means inappropriate language]

This is a community not an English class - I barely recognized my own post....If the person is not an American, having English mistakes is understandable

In addition, the "UPDATE" titles is easier to manage when you can't just post in your own thread

Anyhow.....I mentioned the ingredients in one of the small post, which probably makes it hard to notice - I know you all want the exact recipe, but I can't and I know the recipe works, so it is not the way I do it but with what ingredients - This is why I'm focusing on the differences than the quantity

Flour 100% - Don't have the brand cause I moved it into a box, but it is an AP one, which I think is mistake #1 - I will try a white flour instead

[The rest are relative to the flour]

Butter ~90% - I used an UNSALTED one. Tried "Lake Lands" & Kerrygold - Both are not that far from the Israeli one, so TBH i'm not that worried here -I also changed the quantity to match the Israeli values

Eggs ~5%

Almond Flour + Coconut + Granulated Sugar - ~85%

Almond Flour - Bob'd Red Mill super-fine almond flour - kind of yellow package which says that this is "simply skinless, blanched almonds that have been ground to a super-fine texture"

UNSWEETENED shredded coconut - blue\green "Let's Do organic" package - One thing I said is that I haven't noticed the reduced fat - 36% lass fat according to package - Not sure this is what we have in Israel

Granulated Sugar - I think this is another mistake I already saw in one of the comments. I have "Wholesome" Organic Powdered Confectioners Sugar - looks like a purple package to me..some will say purple-pink

Also have salt but that not a lot at all

  • 3
    Where in the US are you? Some regions have higher humidity, some have higher elevations. Cooks Illustrated / America's Test Kitchen recipes are written using weights (not volumes) for flour, and comparing yours to theirs may help. Kitchen scales usually have both ounces (oz) and grams when weighing ingredients. (1 cup of King Arthur unbleached AP is 5 oz. ) – April Salutes Monica C. Feb 24 at 14:52
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    As a side note, recipes are generally not eligible for copyright protection in the U.S. Not sure how it works in other countries. – MJ713 Feb 24 at 23:05
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    @Oron If you bought powdered or confectioners sugar it probably has about 5% cornstarch in it as an anti-clumping agent. This could have killed your cookies. Again, we're still struggling for details, but it's a guess that you were buying something closer to caster sugar before. Any help on the almond question? – J... Feb 25 at 11:04
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    You mention California, but California's a big place, with a very wide range of climates, you might need to be a bit more specific than that. Are you in hot, dry, SoCal? Up in the mountains? It makes a big difference. – Darrel Hoffman Feb 25 at 21:20
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    To elaborate on what @MJ713 said, recipes are not copyrightable, so you can at least post the ingredients list here. Here's a link that goes over the whole history of it: paleoflourish.com/recipe-copyright – Bloodgain Feb 26 at 0:43
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I can't tell you exact differences, but it is known that differences do exist.

  • US flour is frequently bleached. This is illegal in the EU, I don't know how it is in Israel.
  • I don't know what flour your recipes are made for. In the US, "all purpose" flour tends to be closest to German 550 flour, and cake recipes in Europe may have been made with German 405 flour (or the local equivalent) in mind, which has a lower protein content.
  • US flour can be made from different cultivars than those used in Europe. The best known difference shouldn't make a difference to your cakes - in North America, they grow a lot of hard winter wheat and make so-called bread flour out of it. But even with soft wheat, which is used for all-purpose flour, there is no reason to use the same cultivars, so they probably differ.
  • Israel is hot and arid. Flour absorbs a little bit of humidity from the air during storage, and it is possible that, if you are now living in a more humid area, this "prehydration" differs. I cannot tell you what the exact effect is on the final binding power of the flour, my intuition actually would expect the effect to go in the other direction - but I have seen (I think even researched) in another question on the site the difference when flour is stored at different humidities and it is mathematically significant.
  • the growth conditions are different between Israel and the surrounding countries, and the USA. While wheat is a global commodity, I wouldn't be surprised if producers gear their blend towards a binding capacity that is traditionally expected in a locale, else they risk selling flour which gains reputation for "not working".

All this is only a list of possible causes, but it doesn't help you predict how the dough will differ. Luckily, this is a problem which can easily be addressed empirically. Try just cutting the flour back from your recipes and see what the results are. I would go for maybe 10% less the first time and then continue in smaller increments in the desired direction. Another potential solution is to switch to pastry flour if you have been using all purpose - but it has lower protein content than 405, so if the result is too loose, you might have to start mixing pastry flour and all purpose flour.

As a final note, pay attention not to buy self-rising flour (unless your recipe calls for it). It won't lead to the dry results you described, but it will give you other problems.

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    Because OP mention cookies I would also say the problem might lie in sugar (or what is used to sweeten them. It might be even bigger if he's using xylitol "birch sugar/finn sugar") and ALL additional stuff. Raisins, chocolate bits etc. – SZCZERZO KŁY Feb 24 at 10:56
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    @SZCZERZOKŁY you are right, I don't know why I was thinking of cakes when the OP said cookies. Your point is quite pertinent, I think it deserves that you write it up into an answer. – rumtscho Feb 24 at 11:09
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    “US flour is frequently bleached. This is illegal in the EU” — I’ve read the same elsewhere online but I don’t think this is correct, I’m pretty sure the white flour I buy in the UK in supermarkets is sometimes bleached. Maybe the process by which this happens is different though. – Konrad Rudolph Feb 25 at 14:43
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    @KonradRudolph use of certain bleaching agents such as chlorine is illegal in the EU (and, for now, the UK) but it's possible to bleach flour in a number of ways, including just letting it "age" naturally. Bleaching is sometimes known as "artificial aging" in the industry. – Nathan Griffiths Feb 26 at 1:39
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With cookies you need to be aware of ALL the things that can be different. First of all the flour, which can be enriched, bleached etc., and which rarely has a grade that tells you how finely milled it is. If you bought relatively coarsely-milled flour, such as the flour that's usually used to make shortbread, then you might get the results you described.

The second thing is butter. In the US, the fat content might be (and probably is) lower than in Israel.

Next, the sugar: sugar made from cane vs. beets can lead to different results. And here, too, the fineness of the grind will have a noticeable effect: powdered sugar gives a very different consistency than granulated.

Additives, like raisins or chocolate. Not only the fat content might be different but also the water content. Remember it's the water that helps develop gluten.

Looking at your recipe would be the best to pinpoint the culprit.

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    Rocks? Do you mean "granulated" sugar? – RonJohn Feb 24 at 14:53
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    I'm pretty sure most of the sugar I buy in US stores is cane sugar. According to WP, beet sugar is about 45% of US production, but I don't know if it is disproportionally bound for uses other than table sugar. – T.E.D. Feb 24 at 14:54
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    @RonJohn "Turbinado" - wow that's a name much cooler than "rocks". – SZCZERZO KŁY Feb 24 at 15:00
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    @T.E.D. What I meant by Rocks is USA called Turbinado sugar. Larger crystals and "wetter" so not so sweet as regular or coarse. – SZCZERZO KŁY Feb 24 at 15:02
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    On this note, if OP has multiple recipes where they would have used the same flour, trying them can help narrow down the culprit. For example, if the flour is the issue, and it's causing issues in something like a super simple flatbread as well, it'll be easier to play around with the flatbread recipe to get the right results, and then use that info as a starting point for adjusting more complicated recipes. With that said, just because one recipe with the flour works and another doesn't, it doesn't rule out the flour; it just might be interacting with different things across recipes – anjama Feb 24 at 15:43
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I think it's the fat content of the butter.

I made the family fruit-pie pastry recipe using ingredients from Switzerland, and the pastry basically "melted" in the oven. Previously I had made this exact same recipe many many times in Australia. I suspect that the Swiss butter had extra fat. It's quite normal for butter-fat (and moisture) content to change.

Obviously in your case, the butter-fat content (and perhaps moisture) is significantly less. I guess (speaking as an amateur) I would retry on a smaller batch with ~15% more butter.

I don't think it's humidity, etc. as this would make the result more wet, not extra dry.

  • 1
    copied my answer from another comment: The butter is different and I actually tested it first : ) So on my 2nd attempt I compared the fat between the butters and adjust as needed..still got powder at the end of the process which I couldn't do anything with : / It was so dry that my online searched led me to the flour..for now..since this is a simple recipe [which i shared the ingredients], so I'm not sure there is a lot of room for mistakes [and of course I still made one LOL] BUT..That's a note to remember! – Oron Feb 25 at 5:14
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This one might be a bit of a stretch, but, if you're making large batches, it might be worth thinking about: How are you measuring liquids?

One of the (many) drawbacks in the US system is reusing the word "ounces" both as 1/16th of a pound (weight) and as 1/16th of a pint (volume). For water, or water-type liquids, there's not really much of a difference; an ounce by volume is approximately the same as an ounce by weight. (I.e. 1 fl oz of water ~ 1 oz dw water).

BUT, if the things you're measuring are more dense than water (e.g. honey or molasses) or less dense (e.g. oil, butter, cream?), using a volumetric measurement instead of a weight (or vice versa) might be enough to throw off your final recipe.

If you were having to convert a metric based recipe to US measuring devices, and you got the measurement type wrong (e.g. you grabbed a measuring cup instead of weighing oil), that might just be enough to throw off a recipe.

I see you've said that you're weighing it all, so this probably doesn't apply, but just in case (or just in case you're having to convert).

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    I've never seen a recipe specify volume in fluid ounces. It's common on packaging, but not in recipes. – Mark Feb 24 at 21:40
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    @Mark: But I have. – Joshua Feb 25 at 2:55
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    good point to note for the future in this case I have recipes in grams [eggs specifically as the liquid] and I have a weight showing grams units..I don't do the conversion between US to other metrics : ) – Oron Feb 25 at 5:12
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    @Mark that's one of the many, MANY, reasons why I hate the US system of measurements. Half the time, simply "oz" is used, and it's left to the reader to determine whether it's oz dw or fl oz. But, all the same, it seems like this is not the cause of the OP's problem. – Van Feb 25 at 13:26
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    @Van is "fluid ounces for fluids, solid ounces for solids" not straightforward enough? – zaen Feb 25 at 17:55
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My guess would be that it is the almond flour. If you have ever ground up almonds in a food processor, there are 3 stages. First if you only coarsely chop the almonds, they will just be chunks in the dough that don't influence how dry or liquid the dough is at all. In the second stage the almonds will become a fine powder similar to flour, so they will soak up liquid and make the dough drier. Finally, if you continue chopping them in the food processor they will turn into almond butter which is quite liquid. So adding that will make your dough less dry.

So even if the almond flour is just pure almonds without any additional processing steps, they could make your dough both drier and more liquid depending on long they have been ground. Additionally it seems possible to me that in commercial almond flour some oil is removed to force a more powdery consistence. If this is done in the US but not in Israel that would explain the difference and also point the way to a solution. Buy whole almonds, make your own almond flour and see how the recipe turns out.

  • Grinding almonds is also super sensitive to the ambient humidity. I got much different results when making almond flour in Denver (desert) vs Baltimore (swamp). – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Feb 26 at 18:08
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I am not a professional but in all my experiences I've learnt the recipes require little tuning according to the area altitude weather (Humidity, Room temp.) and specially the ingredients. lets say you were using some X company butter before and you change it to Y. then it changes your recipe as different companies have different moisture content in their butter.

so tune it according to your needs.

Write it down and get it approved from your Sup/Manager whoever is above you assuming if you are asking for professional kitchen.

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