I love baking! It’s not like making dinner, something that I have to do. Baking is more of a passion or hobby. It’s fun. It relaxes me. When I bake, I’m laser-focused. I’m not thinking about my to-do list, work, kids, or projects. I would go so far as to say, for me, baking is a form of meditation. It clears my head, quiets the noise, and allows me to be in the moment. So when my cookies, cupcakes or, muffins fall short of expectation because some are overly browned, while others are not completely done, I get frustrated. I HATE it when things don’t evenly bake. It messes with my Zen! It screws with my tranquility. It upsets my sense of harmony when my baked goods don’t look aesthetically pleasing because they are mismatched sizes. Different sizes also create stress as kids (and co-workers) will squabble over who gets the “big” cookie. And therein lies the problem. There should not be different sizes. Cookies, cupcakes, and muffins need to be the same size to bake evenly.
To achieve uniformity in size, you need to start with the same amount of batter in each muffin or cupcake well. Cookie dough needs to be divided into even-sized portions. Same sized allotments ensure that each cookie, cupcake, or muffin will bake at the same speed. Of course, you can still burn them, but if they are even sizes, you will burn all of them, not just a few! If they are underdone, all of them will be underdone (which means you can bake them for a few more minutes). Life is just a whole lot easier if everything is the same size!
Eyeballing didn’t work for me. I needed to find a way to achieve balance in proportioning dough and batter. I had a couple of failed tries with methods that were either too fussy (I’m not into fussy) or didn’t work any better than just winging it. Then I discovered ice cream/cookie scoops! Not only do I have evenly proportioned sizes, but I can scoop a tray of cookies in just over a minute! My Zen was restored! Seriously, something as simple as using ice cream scoops solved one of my biggest baking challenges.
These scoops are called interchangeable ice cream or cookie scoops. Don’t get hung up on the label. The scoops come in a variety of sizes. Most common is a set of three that includes a large scoop (1/4 cup), medium scoop (2 tablespoons), and a small scoop (2 teaspoons). The large scoop is perfect for portioning cupcake and muffin batter. It also works for pancake batter, ground beef for burgers, and don’t forget that it dishes a great bowl of ice cream. The medium scoop produces right-sized cookies with every scoop. Making meatballs is a whole lot easier with a scoop instead of a spoon. I use the small scoop for fruit balls, butter balls, and cheese. Trust me, you will find a bunch of uses for these scoops.
Something as simple as using ice cream/cookie scoops to right-size batter and dough has dramatically increased my baking productivity. Now, I rarely have to toss half a pan away because of uneven baking. My inner peace soars when I open the oven to a batch of beautiful, even-sized, perfectly baked cookies. Ah, a Zen moment!