Question about Sugar Color and Baking Cookies

jscoutDecember 12, 2011

I have a question for you bakers out there. I was baking some butter cookies for Christmas and I rolled half of the batch in red sanding sugar and the other half in green sanding sugar. For some reason, the green cookies baked faster and the bottoms were darker. I'm guessing it has something to do with the color. Any body know why?

For some background, I used full sheets in my oven with half the sheet red and the other half green. I was intrigued by the observation so for the second batch I left the whole sheet the same color. The oven is a Capital Culinarian range and is pretty even heating, especially since I keep a stone in it.

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I have trouble accepting that the color had anything to do with it. I'm more inclined to think uneven heating. The colors for heat absorption are probably pretty close so it's not a dark pan/light pan difference and that wouldn't explain the bottoms going darker. I think you had uneven heat in the oven.

I assume you had the different colors left right as you look into the oven? If you had inner oven vs closer to the door, that'd be an explanation since the back of the oven is generally hotter. Did you rotate the pans? Try several pans worth alternating green & red location in the oven? For just a pan or two, I'd till go with uneven heat and write it off as a JOOTT.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 5:12PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I did change it up in the second batch but I just realized that I didn't describe my process in my haste to finish the post. More info...

I used commercial aluminum bun pans lined with parchment paper. The first batch I had two pans, both had red on one half and green on the other. One pan was placed in the middle of the oven and then other was in the upper third. Both pans had red on the left half and green on the right half. My initial thought was uneven heating left to right. Top to bottom I expect, but both pans were very similar, so if there was a difference top to bottom it wasn't that great.

For the second batch I put all green on one pan and all red on the other. I put the red pan in the upper third and green in the middle. The green pan had darker bottoms across the board.

I'm going to try the same recipe next week. Only this time, I'm going to do all red in one batch and all green in the other. That's probably the only way I'll know for sure.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2011 at 10:40PM
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Is it possible that you always rolled out the green ones first? Starting with a chilled dough? So they were warmer going into the oven, and needed slightly less baking time than the cooler red ones?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 9:04AM
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Good questions, christine. I didn't chill the dough at all, even though I should have. Normally I would, but it was getting late at night and I was getting tired. I did let the dough rest while I cleaned up a bit and got the sugars and pans ready. I did roll the green first, but then switched to red for the second half of the first pan and then continued with the red on the second pan finishing with green. The dough was basically at room temp throughout. Now I really need to try this again this weekend, because I was all over the place. :)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 11:46AM
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