Cookies Galore

A picture speaks a thousand words.

Comparing cookies

It’s not a particularly good picture – the light was fading, my camera flash is (still) broken and I didn’t really arrange the cookies very aesthetically. However, it says all I want to say and more …

… the flat, crispy cookies on the right were made with untreated plain flour; the crunchy, chewy cookies on the left were made with the same flour, microwaved (à la kate).

Leave a comment


  1. and just think–cookies are the most forgiving of all baked goods but even a cookie won’t forgive unbleached or unkated flour! thanks for the great thanksgiving gift!

  2. Jeannette

     /  November 22, 2007

    Helloagain Kate, Isee you have been busy again! Is the flour you used ordinary plain flour and for how long did you microwave it? I see from Melinda’s blog she used a thermometer to measure the temp. of the flour, I don’t have that type of thermometer so just microwaved my flour for 3mins. Perhaps it’s worth investing in a thermometer.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving, Rose 🙂

    I used McDougall’s plain flour, Jeannette. I microwaved it for 6 mins total at 750W (see Quick Cheats). I’ve found a thermometer to be very useful at helping you to see in the dark (see Getting Warm)!

  4. nothing wrong with the picture at all! all very au naturale…

  5. Thank you, Andrew (especially when your own photos are so beautiful 🙂 ).

  6. Hi Kate!

    I can’t tell you how many of my cookie batches looked like those on the right! You are truly a lifesaver of my reputation as a baker. A thousand thank yous!

  7. Adrian

     /  January 31, 2008

    I was intrigued by the results you’ve gotten. Has all bleaching been banned in Europe, or only chlorine bleaching? I had always heard that it was chlorine bleaching that gave cake flour its special properties, but that regular American bleached flour was only peroxide bleached and didn’t bake the same way.

    Certainly I can attest that if I use (American) cake flour I get a finer texture than if I used bleached all purpose. But I have always felt that the results with bleached all purpose flour were fine. (The cake flour is harder to find and sold in awkward little boxes of only 2 lbs.) For a while I actually made cakes with unbleached pastry flour which gave a coarser texture than the cake flour, but which I also thought was fine. (I can’t get that flour any more.)

    For cookies, I’ve always used unbleached all-purpose flour. In any case, my curiosity was piqued so I cooked up a batch of Kate flour using Gold Medal unbleached all purpose flour. I then baked a cake with the original Gold Medal unbleached and with the Kate flour. I used the all occasional downy yellow cake recipe from the Cake Bible. I did not add corn starch to adjust the flour’s protein content.

    Cakes are pictured above. When I removed them from the oven, a striking difference was immediately apparent. The Kate flour cake had a level top. The plain unbleached flour cake had a sunken top. The cake in the far back is the one made with Kate flour. The cake slice on the left (taller) is also Kate flour. The cake slice on the right was made with plain unbleached.

    When it came time to eat these cakes, the difference was fairly subtle. My wife thought the plain unbleached cake was slightly better. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to separate them in a blind tasting, and I couldn’t pick one as preferable.

    Moving on to cookies, I made batches of (orange) chocolate chip cookies following my customary recipe:

    1/2 cup butter, softened
    3/8 cup sugar
    1/2 cup dark brown sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 egg
    1/2 tsp orange oil
    5 oz (1 1/4 cup sifted) unbleached flour
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    6 oz (1 cup) chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 350.

    Cream butter and sugars. Add vanilla, egg, and orange oil and beat
    until smooth. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in chocolate

    Form into 1/8 cup (2 tablespoon) balls and bake on greased or lined
    cookie sheets for 13 minutes.

    This time I made three versions: one with Pillsbury Bleached All Purpose flour, one with gold medal unbleached and one with kate flour prepared from the gold medal unbleached.

    The three on the left were made with the pillsbury bleached. The 5 in the middle were made with the gold medal unbleached, and the 3 on the right with the kate flour.

    The cookies made with the unbleached flour seemed to cook faster. They were more browned. In fact, I wondered if the other cookies should have been cooked slightly longer for a fair comparison. Again, it was fairly hard to tell the batches apart, other than the unbleached flour cookies being more browned. I think the other two types were perhaps slightly thicker. These cookies all languished in the freezer for a while and came out for a party having lost any crispness they had, at which point it was almost impossible to tell the different types apart.

    In conclusion, it appears that I get some superficial changes from treating the flour, but not the type of changes that others have observed. Why is this the case? Is it choice of recipe? Some other difference in the type of flour? Could the orange oil in the cookies play a role, perhaps by acidifying the dough?

  8. Hi Adrian – thanks for writing in such detail about your tests 🙂
    If I’ve worked it out correctly, it seems that Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose flour has a 10% protein content. This is quite a bit higher than cake flour (at 6%), so it would be interesting to see what results you get if you cut the protein content with cornflour/cornstarch (3 1/2 oz flour + 1/2 oz cornflour per part). I’d guess that the sunken top of the cake you made with untreated flour was caused by the butter falling out of suspension. In kate flour, the heat treatment appears to roughen the starch molecules in a similar way to when they are attacked by bleaching, which prevents the butter from falling (did you notice layers in your untreated-flour cake?)
    I haven’t tried your cookie recipe, so I don’t know about your results there … have you tried testing the two forms of flour using the cookie recipe I used (here)? I wouldn’t cut the protein for making cookies (the recipe states all-purpose rather than cake flour). The differences were certainly very obvious when I used this recipe – it would be interesting to see if you get the same results!

  9. Adrian

     /  February 22, 2008

    I’ve tested your cookie recipe. I find it remarkable how small changes in the recipe for cookies can lead to large changes in the resulting texture. It seems like cakes are not as sensitive. (Or maybe I’m just less aware of the nuance of cake texture.)

    I’ve written up my results at
    including several pictures.

    These cookies are thicker and cakier than the ones I made before. The treated flour gave much thicker cookies that didn’t spread as much. Despite this, the actual texture of the cookies seemed very similar between the three types. As before, the unbleached flour cookie browned the most. The treated flour cookies browned the least and came out looking pale compared to the other two.

    I assume that the more cake-like texture means that flour is playing a more important role. This may explain why the treatment made a more pronounced difference for this recipe than for my recipe.

  10. Adrian

     /  February 28, 2008

    I did the cake test again with corn starch. Still no difference, though my test was marred a a procedural irregularity.

  11. I like it! :mrgreen: (I have procedural irregularities in the form of a 5.5 year old and a 2.2 year old too!! My youngest (10 months) likes to wave a wooden spoon in the general direction of the batter … I dread to think what will happen when he ‘helps’ as well …).

  12. Adrian

     /  March 3, 2008

    For completeness I made two more cakes, one using actual cake flour and another one using Pillsbury bleached all purpose flour. I added the picture to the web site listed in my last comment.

    Both of these cakes rose higher and had a finer texture than the ones made with unbleached flour, treated or not.

  13. Thanks again for testing these US flours so thoroughly, Adrian. From your cookie-tests, I’m still wondering if there is more of a difference between US unbleached and UK plain flour than I’d assumed … it will be interesting to see the results of Woody’s tests when he compares made-in-the-UK kate flour directly with cake flour (and perhaps … hopefully! … also with US-unbleached kate flour).

  14. Bernardean

     /  December 8, 2008

    Dear Kate and anybody else…
    It’s time for me to bake Xmas cookies here in the U.K. Previously I have used my American recipes and just added more flour which seemed, at least in the case of Melting Moments and Spritz cookies to solve the flour problem at least well enough to get by.
    However, this year I decided I would use “Kate”flour and see what happened. So I “baked” my flour, sieved, hydrogenated and added the appropriate amounts of cornflour and xanthum gum. Then I made up and baked a batch of Melting Moments (which are basically 1 part butter to 2 parts flour plus a little powdered sugar–they are made up into little patties which sandwich buttercream and are dusted with powdered sugar at serving–incredibly delicious). Sadly, when the MM’s were baked and cooled and I tried to ice some they literally crumbled in my hands. They were so airy and fragile that they are unusable.
    So the big question is: Did I do something wrong? Is Kate flour not appropriate for making cookies? Should I have left out the additives? What’s wrong? I used Dove’s Farm plain white fine, 9–10% protein.

    • It sounds as though you cut the protein too much. Would you normally use cake flour for these cookies, or all-purpose? If it’s AP, then you wouldn’t need to replace any of the flour you microwaved with cornflour. Alternatively, you could try a UK recipe for comparison (melting moments are quite a traditional biscuit over here, too!). Rachel Allen’s recipe and the one from BBC Good Food sound good (I haven’t tried either, although that may change soon – you’ve sparked my taste-buds!).

  15. Tina P

     /  May 8, 2011

    Hi Kate,

    Thank you SOOO much for your reply at Rose’s site (I tried clicking reply there but I think the thread was closed).

    I’ve printed your instructions with enthusiasm and will be following them religiously, once again thank you sooooo much for all your help !

    Kind Regards,


  16. Tina P

     /  May 8, 2011

    Hi Kate, me again…

    Just out of curiosity when making Kate flour for a recipe that calls Bleached All Purpose flour, should xanthan gum be added too? Or is that only for cake flour recipes?

    Sorry for bombarding you with all these questions, and thanks again for all your help!



    • The xanthan gum can be added for all flours that have been microwaved as it helps to counteract the loss of viscosity that may be due to damaged starch molecules (I think!) – the cornflour/cornstarch component should only be added when it’s needed to cut the protein content (ie. when making cake flour). HTH – and don’t worry about asking questions! 🙂

  17. Tina P

     /  May 8, 2011

    Hi Kate,


    Thank you sooooo much again for all your help this is incredible!!!!

    So I made two batches of cookies (Toll house recipe), one using untreated plain flour (Protein: 10.3%) and one using Kate flour, AMAAAAAZING RESULTS !!!

    The untreated were exactly as you described in your post, flat burnt pancakes w/no shape LOL !!! (and verrrry crispy in a verrrry bad way)

    But the ones made with Kate Flour …WOWZA !!! they were just PERFECTTTT, had shape, had height, perfectly even brown, AND were nice and chewy – Mmmm just AMAZING !!

    So thank you soooo verrry much !!! You have changed my life forever !!! You are incredible !!! =D !!!!

    I still can’t believe it’s the same exact recipe =O !!! They should really make Kate Flour or heat treated flour available to the public, it changes the entire game of baking and opens us Brits to a whole new world of food. . . *sigh* one day.



    Tina P

    • I’m thrilled that you’ve experienced this first-hand, Tina! I can still remember my own shock and surprise when I pulled that tray of cookies out of the oven.


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