You Asked, She Answered: Cookie Q&A with Rebecca Firth

Photography by Stella Firth-Wang

Rebecca Firth, the baker behind DisplacedHousewife, answers the cookie questions you submitted to her on Instagram. Read on to learn her can’t-miss tips, her favorite cookies, and how she created the epic recipes in her new book, The Cookie Book. Rebecca also makes an appearance as a contributor in our special Holiday Cookies 2018 issue, so grab a copy for even more of her recipes and tips!

@daftdoggie asked: Where did you get the cookie stamps you used in your cookbook?
Rebecca Firth: They are the Starry Night Cookie Stamps set from Nordic Ware! I love them!

@forevercarriejean asked: What’s your process for designing a new recipe?
RF: I have a lot of recipes under my belt, so I use a lot of them as core recipes and then build on them. Sometimes a crazy craving or a visual will hit me, and I can’t rest until I’ve turned it into something fun and delicious. I start by writing out a tentative recipe and then test and edit two or three times until I get it right. Then I test one more time after it’s perfected to make sure everything is just right. 

@elizabethlarea asked: Should I always chill my dough before baking cookies?
RF: You shouldn’t always chill your dough. In my recipes, I’m very specific as to when you should chill your dough and when you shouldn’t. I like to chill doughs that are sticky (from putting things like molasses in them) or difficult to handle, and pre-bake them to reduce spread and to help them retain their shape. Sometimes I’ll chill dough because I want the flour to absorb moisture and make a puffier cookie, and sometimes I just want to be able to handle the dough easier. Letting it sit in the fridge for a while will also deepen the flavor, so it’s great for recipes with subtle notes and spices. But if you’re looking for a thinner cookie, I wouldn’t recommend chilling the dough because that will make it hard and create a puffy cookie. Basically, most doughs can handle some time in the fridge if you don’t want to bake them right away but not all recipes require that you chill the dough first.

Photography, Food Styling, and Recipe Development by Rebecca Firth / Released with permission from The Cookie Book by Rebecca Firth, Page Street Publishing Co. 2018.

@karenshadowen asked: I tend to lose the imprint from a cookie stamp when baking. Is there a secret to this?
RF: Next time you make cookies, give them a good 10-15 minutes in the freezer after stamping and prior to baking. This can help slow spread in the oven and retain that beautiful imprint in the dough. You could also roll out the dough and chill it before you stamp it. Lastly, make sure your oven is the correct temperature. If it runs on the cooler side, your cookies will take longer to bake, which melts the dough rather than bake it and set it. If none of this works, I’d recommend trying a firmer dough. Good luck!

@kitchen_alchemist asked: In search of a gluten-free cookie. What flours and gluten-free grains do you prefer to use?
RF: I am a huge believer in Thomas Keller’s Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour! It’s my favorite gluten-free flour. I feel like you could bake most any cookies with it and they will turn out fab.

@lucy_mendonca asked: How do I avoid eating the entire tray myself?
: Lucy, I feel you. The only thing that saves me is freezing dough balls. I’ll make a batch of cookie dough balls to bake right then and freeze the rest to enjoy later. This keeps me from completely gorging myself, but there are day when no dough is safe in my house.

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