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In some recipes instant pudding mix/cornstarch are called. What is the main point of adding these two ingredients in your dough.

Thank you

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Flour is basically a mix of gluten and starch (about 10% gluten to 90% starch for all purpose flour, the ratio varies for other types). Whenever a baked good asks for the addition of pure starch, it is made under the assumption that you have no easy access to low-gluten flour types. Its purpose is to reduce the gluten-to-starch ratio.

Gluten makes dough tough and is also the substance which makes it hold together. With less gluten in your dough, your cookies will be less tough, have more of a tender texture. They will also crumble more easily.

Instant pudding is an ingredient which is more common in some kitchens than pure starch, so it is used as a substitute. It usually has sweeteners and aromas in addition to cornstarch. It is less controllable than using pure starch and adding the best amount of sugar and the desired flavoring itself, so it trades quality for convenience. In my experience, recipes which call for instant pudding also cut corners in other respects, and are unlikely to be of high quality overall. So I prefer to not use them. If you want the low-gluten type cookies, choosing a recipe with cornstarch (or directly cake flour instead of a mix of AP flour and starch) will probably give better results.

  • "under the assumption that you have no easy access to low-starch flour types", do you mean high-starch (or low-gluten) flour types? We're adding starch, after all... – Chris Apr 19 '14 at 0:41
  • with less gluten in my cookie dough mean it'll spread more, right? – Sukanok Donot Apr 19 '14 at 6:16
  • @SukanokDonot generally yes, you got the direction of the influence right. However, there is very little gluten development in normal cookie dough, nowhere near enough to pull it elastically together the way it does in bread. So I suspect that the difference will be negligible in practice. – rumtscho Apr 19 '14 at 13:42
  • @SukanokDonot generally higher gluten flours actually spread more in cookies. Cookwise has a section on flour types in cookies. – SourDoh Apr 19 '14 at 17:24
  • @sourd'oh interesting. I even cited Cookwise the last time I answered a question of Sukanok, but it seems I have forgotten the details :( – rumtscho Apr 19 '14 at 17:30

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