Whether you’re new to the mountains or trying a new recipe, high altitude can be a frustrating ingredient in your kitchen. Read on to find out how to work with and around your altitude.
1. Cut the leavening
- Are your cakes falling?
- Are your cookies spreading too far?
- Are your breakfast breads overdone on the outside and raw in the middle?
High altitude baking will almost always be improved by cutting the leavening in baked goods. Three quarters of the original amount may be plenty of baking powder or soda if you are at 3,000 to 4,000 feet of elevation. If you are baking even higher than that, you can almost always automatically half the leavening called for in a recipe. Sometimes, you may even have to quarter the called-for amount to achieve ideal results.
2. Add flour
- Can’t cut the leavening?
Sometimes, cutting the leavening is not an option. When you are using mixes that have pre-measured dry ingredients, your best bet is to add a little bit of flour. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour to a pre-measured mix, depending on your elevation. The additional flour will disperse the leavening in order to create a more uniform product at high altitudes.
3. Add liquid
- Are your cakes crumbly and dry?
Whether or not you are adding flour to your recipes, some baked goods can tend to be over-dry at high altitude due to drier climates. The simple solution is to add more liquid. An additional egg or a quarter cup of additional liquid will work wonders in a dry cake or quick bread.
4. Cut rising time
- Is your bread yeasty?
- Are your cinnamon rolls too crusty and light?
Yeasted products can also suffer the ill effects of altitude. Because of the significantly reduced pressure above 3,000 feet, yeasted breads expand and rise much more quickly than at sea level. At very high altitudes, above 6,000 feet, breads may actually rise in half the prescribed time. To combat low quality breads at high altitude, monitor your dough carefully. Do not allow it to rise past double its original size. If you find that your bread’s flavor does not develop sufficiently in the reduced amount of time, you may punch it down and let it rise twice before shaping it. It is possible to have wonderful yeasted breads at high altitude!
The above-mentioned tips are guidelines to improve the quality of high-altitude baked goods. As is often the case in baking, experimentation and patience will lead you to success in recipe alteration.
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