Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Baking at High Altitude

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Is there a difference between baking at high altitude and at sea level?  Do I need to adjust my bread recipes when I move to the Rockies?  What kind of problems might I face in the kitchen moving from Hawaii to Colorado?  These are questions you might find yourself wondering in your kitchen, I know I did!

My favorite cupcakes are often from boxed cake mixes.  I always make my own frosting, but I often cheat a little a use a box mix for cupcakes because I like them.  I do. So I wondered, can you use mixes with the same results at high altitude?   You can!  Here are the tweaks that I made. 

-add 1/4 cup of flour and decrease the butter or oil by a tablespoon
These simple changes made perfect cupcakes.  Try it and let me know if it works for you.

I moved to Denver a few months ago and have been discovering a lot of these things myself through trial and error and a lot of reading about the effects of altitude on baked goods.  I have learned a lot while eating flat cookies and slightly unattractive quick breads.  The best part is that even though they may be ugly, they still taste like sugar and butter, so don't be afraid to make mistakes and try!

Baking at altitude is definitely different!  

When making my favorite cookie recipes, here are a few things I have learned: 
-I either decrease the leavener by 1/4 tsp. or leave the batter out about a half hour before baking
This has proven to take a cookie from flat to perfectly rounded in most of my recipes.  Simple fix, but it really makes a huge difference.  

Baking soda and baking powder are leaveners that create air bubbles to build volume in baked goods.  At altitude, baked goods rise faster before they have time to develop the needed structure to rise and then fall flat.  By decreasing the leaveners, you are decreasing the rapid rise.  Makes sense right?

-Increase the oven temperature by 25 degrees.  I usually bake my cookies at 325 or 350, by raising the oven temperature to 350 or 375, they bake quicker and are better prepared for the rise from the leaveners.  

These are just a few tips that I have found to be helpful to very slightly adjust your favorite recipes.  More tips to come in the future!

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