What are you baking on and what difference does it make?

My mama was a big believer in the Airbake cookie pans. She probably baked a half million cookies on them. But, I, on the other hand, have baked a million cookies on something else. I prefer a baking stone. Evolving as a baker you come to appreciate some things more than others, and my baking surface is certainly one of them. . The picture above represents the same dough, the same oven, the same temperature, and the same baking time. The only variable is the baking surface. I prefer a baking stone because I want the back of my cookies to look like the front. In the photo, the first cookie in each row shows the top of the cookie and the other two cookies show the back.

I haven't baked anything on metal in decades, I just tell people why I bake on a stone. But, the teacher in me was feeling kind of science fair-ish last night so I set up a stone and a pan with cookies, declared my hypothesis and commenced baking employing the scientific method. I really think if more science fair projects involved butter and sugar, people would like them more. Using a metal surface made me want to space them two inches apart for some reason. Intellectually, I knew they wouldn't spread but old habits are apparently hard to break. When I got them out of the oven and tried to lift them with a spatula, I broke a leg off of every one of them. Oh SNAP! Time to replicate this experiment. This time, I baked them on metal with parchment paper. Those guys are pictured above.

You can see that baking on metal makes the cookies a little darker but you could argue that you just need less baking time. So do it. If you like metal, bake on it. Just know that metal is a fabulous conductor of heat but it makes no promises to heat evenly. So. you could get wide variation of done-ness based on where it was located on the pan. Also, even if you are baking on a stone you can get one side of the stone hotter than the other side just by positioning it too close to the metal oven walls. I usually bake more than one stone at the time and actually, two stones would fit, but both would touch the oven walls. I position my stones on 2 different racks, at least 2" away from the oven wall. So, what are you baking on? If you get the results you like, then you have no need to change. But, if you get some cookies too dark while others aren't quite done, investigate how you can achieve a different result with a baking stone.