Here's the last of five readers' baking questions for John. Reader Michelle F. asks:
Q: Whenever I see a recipe for cookies or brownies, I notice that dry and wet ingredients need to be mixed separately before combining them. Why is that? I know that flour has gluten in it (which I think can make a tougher cookie if you mix it with liquid for too long) but can you mix everything together and just mix in flour last?
A: If you try to add wet to dry in parts, the flour would be too much for the small amount or part of the liquid. Therefore, adding all the wet at once will allow the flour to absorb the liquid easier and more uniformly without the flour becoming over-worked.
You can add all to the liquid and add the flour last, but you really should sift or whisk all dry ingredients first, or you will run the chance of not evenly distributing the dry ingredients, especially the baking powder and soda.
Watch the Everyday Baking show on your local PBS stations for more tips on this and other baking matters.