High Altitude Cooking and Baking
The challenges of high altitude cooking and baking can be discouraging to say the least. Too often high altitude baking is more frustrating than fun. Most sea-level recipes work up to around 3,000 feet, but above that, you start to see problems. Flat cookies, collapsed cakes, and sunken muffins. Through much trial and error, I’ve come to rely on a set of adjustments I use whenever I’m in the kitchen. See below for more detailed information. All of my recipes are created in my kitchen which sits just below 7000 feet. Please use my recipes as a guideline and adjust using my rules below. If you have any questions, please email me or send me a message on Facebook and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.
High Altitude Rules
When adjusting a sea level recipe, for each 1 teaspoon of leavening agent called for, decrease it by 1/8-1/2 teaspoon. FOR MY RECIPES: If you live above 8000 feet, decrease the amount of leavening agent just a bit. I recommend starting with 1/8 teaspoon decrease and go from there.
Because at higher elevations, faster evaporation occurs and drier climates can lead to a drier product to begin with, it's important to add additional liquid in any recipe. Also, flavors in baked goods can become weaker or less pronounced as there are fewer moisture molecules to carry the essence; adding 1/2-1 teaspoon extra of whatever flavoring you're using will assure a flavorful baked good. When adjusting any sea level recipe, add 2-4 tablespoons more liquid per 1 cup called for. FOR MY RECIPES: If you live above 8000 feet, increase the amount of liquid by 1 tablespoon. Often times I'll add an extra egg or egg yolk and start there.
The increased evaporation also results in the concentration of the sugar. This leads to a weaker structure. As we noted above, a weak structure leads to fallen cakes and flat cookies. When adjusting a sea level recipe, decrease the amount of sugar by 1-3 tablespoons of sugar per cup called for. I rarely measure but generally do a scant cup for each 1 cup called for. FOR MY RECIPES: If you live above 8000 feet, decrease the sugar by 1 additional tablespoon per cup.
Often times I find decreasing the sugar alone is enough of an adjustment- especially when making cookies. With that being said, I'll often add a tablespoon or two of flour when I'm making cakes or a quick bread. Adding flour helps to steady the rise of the baked good and add structure as it grows in the oven. FOR MY RECIPES: if you live about 8000 feet, increase the flour by 1 tablespoon per cup called for.