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Hi, all,

In one of my sugar cookie experiments, I tried to replace butter with shortening (Crisco). I added only 75% of sugar (than what was called for in the recipe) and added only 75% of crisco (than what was called for in the recipe). That is, I replaced 100% butter with just 75% Crisco shortening and I replaced 100% sugar with just 75% sugar. I did not use any baking powder (the recipe says 1 tsp could be used, however it is optional). I usually use 1 tsp baking powder.

When I was rolling the dough, I felt that the dough was breaking more easily and was more crumbly as opposed to sticking together. I had to keep putting it back together with my hands and then roll it.

I rolled my cookies 1/4" thick. Usually my cookies do not puff unevenly. However, this time in some cookies I found uneven puffiness in only certain parts.

Could any of you experienced bakers throw some light on why could this be?

Also, how does reduced sugar or reduced fat % impact the dough or dough's pliability/bonding feature. Does this reduced amount impact how dough behaves when being rolled?

Also, what could be the reason for this uneven puffiness in the cookies?

P.S.: I have read all the Toolbox Talk articles here (excellent source of information), but I couldn't find the response to my questions mentioned above. 

Last edited by Julia M. Usher
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@Econlady posted:

Why would you reduce the sugar and the shortening?  The ratios are important in baking.  It could be lumpy because the dough is the wrong consistency.

@Econlady: Thank you for your inputs. 

I reduced the quantities to experiment and see what it does to the taste of the cookie. When I was using the original recipe the people who tasted the cookies said they had a buttery after taste and with royal icing the cookie tasted almost too sweet. So, I reduced the sugar to make the cookie less sweet, so that with Royal Icing, the cookies did not taste too sweet. I reduced the butter to make the buttery after taste go away.

Also, dough wasn't lumpy, on the contrary it was flaky and was coming apart as I was trying to roll it

@Econlady: Thank you for your inputs. 

I reduced the quantities to experiment and see what it does to the taste of the cookie. When I was using the original recipe the people who tasted the cookies said they had a buttery after taste and with royal icing the cookie tasted almost too sweet. So, I reduced the sugar to make the cookie less sweet, so that with Royal Icing, the cookies did not taste too sweet. I reduced the butter to make the buttery after taste go away.

Also, dough wasn't lumpy, on the contrary it was flaky and was coming apart as I was trying to roll it

Try a different butter or  recipe rather than modifying your recipe.  For a long time I used my sugar cookie recipe, but recently I tried Julia ushers gingerbread recipe for making 3D projects.  It’s delicious and makes beautiful cookies.  It’s also very soft.  Personally I ignore comments of too sweet.  If you don’t want sweet don’t eat a sugar cookie or something covered in icing.  Good luck!

By removing so much fat, you also removed a lot of the moisture content from the recipe, so it's no surprise the dough fell apart. Also, in the process of decreasing the fat and sugar content (both of which have a tenderizing effect on dough), you likely made the dough more susceptible to overworking the gluten in it (higher flour content = relatively higher gluten content). Thus, if you over-rolled or overworked the dough, you could build up gluten more easily, which can lead to a more elastic dough that rises and spreads less evenly (is prone to more bubbling or shrinking).

@Econlady posted:

Try a different butter or  recipe rather than modifying your recipe.  For a long time I used my sugar cookie recipe, but recently I tried Julia ushers gingerbread recipe for making 3D projects.  It’s delicious and makes beautiful cookies.  It’s also very soft.  Personally I ignore comments of too sweet.  If you don’t want sweet don’t eat a sugar cookie or something covered in icing.  Good luck!

@Econlady Yes, I will try Julia's sugar cookie recipe and ginger bread recipe both. Thanks again

By removing so much fat, you also removed a lot of the moisture content from the recipe, so it's no surprise the dough fell apart. Also, in the process of decreasing the fat and sugar content (both of which have a tenderizing effect on dough), you likely made the dough more susceptible to overworking the gluten in it (higher flour content = relatively higher gluten content). Thus, if you over-rolled or overworked the dough, you could build up gluten more easily, which can lead to a more elastic dough that rises and spreads less evenly (is prone to more bubbling or shrinking).

@Julia M. Usher Thank you. That gives me some insight into what I did wrong. I am going to try your Sugar cookie recipe and ginger bread recipe (mentioned in your e-book Ultimate Cookies)

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