Here in Colorado, the altitude plays a big role when baking.
Stress baking is a thing, especially nowadays. When stuck at home, we often turn to food as an outlet, and plenty of people are giving baking a try for the first time. But before you get started, you should know that the high altitude in Colorado can mess with your recipes.
Now, most recipes are designed to be baked at sea level, but once you hit about 3,000 feet, things start to get funky. At higher altitudes, liquids tend to evaporate quicker and doughs rise faster. Quicker evaporation can make doughs sticky, sugar can concentrate more, and cakes can either not set or become extremely dry. All of this can result in a less-than-delicious treat (and plenty of frustration). Fear not, because we have some simple tips (below) to help make that high-altitude baking a success!
11 Tips for High-Altitude Baking
- Line your baking pans with a layer of flour, or parchment paper. Alternatively, use silicone baking cups to avoid sticking—you can always use cupcake liners even when making brownies or muffins to achieve the same effect.
- In recipes that call for beaten eggs, be careful not to overdo it. This can add too much air into the cake, adding to the dryness.
- Cover your dough when it's proofing to prevent excess moisture loss.
- Yeast rises faster at higher elevations, so watch your dough; you may need to reduce your proof time if it starts to get too big.
- Decrease your baking leaveners (i.e., baking powder and baking soda) by about half to prevent too much rising.
- Add one or two extra tablespoons of flour to dry ingredients.
- You may need to add extra liquid, anywhere from 1 to 4 tablespoons, or extra egg whites or yolks.
- Raising the temperature about 25 degrees when at an altitude of over 3,500 feet will prevent the dough or batter from rising too much.
- Bake bread at as high a temperature as possible.
- Keep an eye on your baked goods and check to make sure they're not under- or overdone
- Flour matters when it comes to baking; cake flour will make a softer delicate texture; whole wheat flour will be coarser. If you substitute in margarine or oil for butter, make sure you've done your research and added enough—margarine often has high-water content that will evaporate or make the dough looser.
If you're looking for some new ideas to try while you test out your baking skills at home, check out these tried and true recipes from us here at OCN:
- Bake It, Don't Buy It: Soft Yeast Rolls for Epic Sandwiches
- Bake It, Don't Buy It: Garlic and Herb Focaccia Bread
- Donut-Glazed Coffee Pound Cake Recipe
Whatever it is you're baking, from fresh tortillas to fancy focaccia bread, you should enjoy the baking process as much as the eating, so try not to get stressed. With so much time at home ahead of us, there will be plenty of time to pick and perfect your own specialty.
We want to know what you're baking at home, so please share your recipes and pictures of your kitchen masterpieces in the comments. Happy baking, Colorado!