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High altitude baking


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16 replies to this topic

#1 mckayinutah

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Posted 09 April 2004 - 12:16 PM

Hello all,

Hopefully someone can help me with this. Living in Utah and being at High Altitude, I have come to need a recipe for high altitude white or yellow cakes ( my devil's food cake recipe works well with no needed adjustments) .

I have searched and searched and have come across several tips on adjusting recipes for high altitude as well as a few recipes that are designed just for this purpose.

I have tried altering 5 different white cake recipes to high altitude, ( primarily reducing leavening agents) as well as have tried the 2 recipes designed just for high altitude that I have found, but they are either too dry and crumbly or look too much like swiss cheese.

My question is, the larger the batter, does it require more "drastic" changes? almost all the recipes that I have fooled around with make 1 or 2 , 9 or 10" cakes, but I need to make 20. Should I be making smaller batches or what?

If anyone could help or may be willing to part with a high volume high altitude white or yellow cake recipe, or has any suggestions as to how to adjust for this large a volume of batter, I am all ears ( I mean eyes, since I can only read what you type :biggrin: )


Thanks in advance,


Jason

#2 pastrymama

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Posted 09 April 2004 - 02:54 PM

I have a recipe that is made with high ratio shortening that I have used for years. The cake is very white and pretty moist. If you don't require a cake made with butter this would be a good recipe for you. I used to work in Prescott, Az the altitude there is 5500 ft If you would like this recipe just let me know and I will post it.
check out my baking and pastry books at the Pastrymama1 shop on www.Half.ebay.com

#3 mckayinutah

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Posted 10 April 2004 - 10:04 AM

Pastrymama,

If you could post that recipe or PM it to me, I would be utterly grateful.


Thank you,

Jason

#4 chiffonade

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Posted 10 April 2004 - 03:59 PM

Maybe this will help:
http://www.cahe.nmsu...bs/_e/E-215.pdf

It's a PDF file - I tried to copy the info and paste it here but it didn't work. Print it out and keep it - it has a lot of valuable info including baking adjustments. Fudge is a bear to make at altitude, the stuff never seems to get to the point it's supposed to get. I lived @ 7,000 feet and water boiled at 198 degrees.

Edited by chiffonade, 10 April 2004 - 04:21 PM.


#5 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 12 April 2004 - 09:42 AM

Maybe this will sound dumb but-have you made any white or yellow cakes you liked at a lower altitute? Thats my biggest problem with both cakes...I don't think I've found the perfect recipe for either.

That issue aside heres some info. from Letty Flatts book Chocolate Snowball. I believe Jason is very familar with her but for anyone who isn't...shes the pc at Deer Valley Ski Resort. It's a very upscale skiing resort with exceptional dining (and a personal favorite of mine). Although I've not baked from her book I think she is a trust worthy resource with personal experience baking at high altitude. I have eaten her work and found it to be very good!

She has a section on high altitude baking and covers several catagories. This is what she wrote specificly on cakes.

"Cakes are possibly the trickiest baked item to adjust since they are inherently delicate. First, decrease the sugar by 1 to 2 tbsp. per cup of sugar to compensate for liquid evaporation. A benefit from decreasing the sugar is that the egg protein sets sooner in the oven's heat. That is because the sugar interferes with egg protein, raising the temperature at which eggs (and therefore a batter) can set. So, at altitudes where the boiling point is lower, reducing the sugar lowers the temperature needed to set the batter.
It is important to never beat too much air into egg whites, especially at high altitude. Whipped egg whites at high altitude should form peaks that just fold over, verses peaks that are stiff. When egg whites are overbeaten, they are stretched beyond their capacity; there is no room for them to expand even more. You want to leave room for them to expand.
If a cake is chemically leavened, reduce the leavening 15 to 70 percent, depending on your altitutde. To stregthen the cell structure of rich cakes, bakers at alititudes over 9,000 feet may need to reduce the fat by 1 or 2 tablespoons per cup of fat.
High altitude recipe adjustment guidelines often suggest increasing the liquid in a recipe by 1 to 4 tablespoons, but I find reducing the sugar alone to be effective. Use cake flour for finer texture. Some guidelines also reccomend increasing the flour by 1 to 2 tablespoons per cup; I use this adjustment occasionally, to lend stability to very fragile batters such as angel food cake, and when sugar reduction isn't enough."

Jason, she has a chart for changes. Tell me what altitude your at and I'll type what she lists for your height.

P.S. The line about reducing your leavening 15 to 70 percent sure is a wide span!

#6 mckayinutah

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Posted 12 April 2004 - 01:05 PM

Wendy,

I didn't even think to look at Letty Flatt's book :wacko:

I went ahead with the recipe that I usually used. It isn't the greatest ( I wish it was a little moister) Guess I'll just have to drench it with simple syrup :rolleyes:

Thanks for all the help given by all.



Jason

#7 Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 04:46 PM

I know this has been discussed here recently, but for some reason I can't find the thread. (Well, I'm pretty sure it's been discussed here--I know I recently read it somewhere...)

First--we live at 7200 feet, which I've never found to be a serious problem when baking cookies. However a friend went to Denver (the Mile High City) to bake cookies for her widowed father. The recipe that makes tall, fluffy cookies here at our altitude made flat, lumpy ones in Denver.

Any clues about how she can reproduce her usual cookies at lower altitude? Or is altitude not the problem? We always assume that there must be correlation between altitude and baking success, and usually that's true, especially for cakes.

Thanks, everyone--you are a great resource. And I apologize for asking a question that probably has been answered before.

N.

Edited by Nancy in CO, 04 October 2007 - 04:46 PM.

Formerly "Nancy in CO"

#8 davidtmori

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Posted 05 October 2007 - 02:55 PM

Hi Nancy,
I live in Tahoe and am baking professionally here. I have lived and worked as a baker at an altitude as high as 10,000 feet above sea level. I get excellent results from my cookie recipes, some of which have been adjusted from sea level recipes.

As you said, cakes and cookies are the two items affected most by altitude. In cookies, the leavening needs to be reduced, by as much as 50%. Flour and eggs need to be increased by 8% and 13% respectively. Sugar, a tenderizer, needs to be decreased by 8%. Fat, such as butter, needs to be decreased by 7%, And liquid, such as water or milk, needs to be increased by 20%.
Of course, every recipe is different, and the best results are obtained by some experimentation and tweaking. These across the board percentages may need to be adjusted from one recipe to the next. Good luck.
David

I know this has been discussed here recently, but for some reason I can't find the thread. (Well, I'm pretty sure it's been discussed here--I know I  recently read it somewhere...)

First--we live at 7200 feet, which I've never found to be a serious problem when baking cookies. However a friend went to Denver (the Mile High City) to bake cookies for her widowed father. The recipe that makes tall, fluffy cookies here at our altitude made flat, lumpy ones in Denver.

Any clues about how she can reproduce her usual cookies at lower altitude? Or is altitude not the problem? We always assume that there must be correlation between altitude and baking success, and usually that's true, especially for cakes.

Thanks, everyone--you are a great resource. And I apologize for asking a question that probably has been answered before.

N.

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#9 Darienne

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 01:51 PM

HOST'S NOTE: Moved here from a discussion on tempering chocolate at altitude, which can still be found here.

It doesn't affect temperature related events, though, this is why some foods do not cook well when boiled at high altitude -they never get as hot as they do at sea level.

Thanks Lisa, every bit of information helps.

Would you please tell me the names of some foods which do not cook well when boiled at high altitude. I see the explanation, but am curious to have an example to know. Boiled vegetables? Crustaceans? All new to the flatlander.

I have the Revolation working as we speak with 56% dark Guittard in it to dip the results of yesterday's hardwon caramels at high altitudes lessons.

Thanks.

Edited by Chris Hennes, 03 November 2008 - 07:27 AM.

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#10 Lisa Shock

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 04:57 PM

Pasta, especially dry pasta, takes a lot longer to cook and never tasted quite 'right' to me. It worked a bit better if you didn't salt the cooking water, which also lowers boiling point, but then the pasta was never seasoned properly in addition to not being quite right. I think that was my biggest gripe.

Pretty much anything boiled or braised took longer to cook. This isn't an issue for meats and fish because you just want their internal temperatures to get to 120-150 or so, and gelatin dissolves at just under 100 degrees.

But, starches and grains can get gummy if exposed to liquid too long, so sometimes cooking rice can be a challenge. I owned several rice cookers while living at high altitude, and they seemed to work out ok. -They would sometimes boil up really fast and boil over, so I would leave a towel on the lid to keep it down (I can recall seeing it literally dancing in mid-air on the boiling rice water once!) and retain more water. The final product was always good rice, white or brown, so no complaints there -just a bit of adjustment to using the machine. I knew other people who struggled with rice when new to town, though.

Casseroles with potatoes may need more liquid to cook thoroughly, if the liquids involved are watery. If they are cream & butter, the adjustments needed will be minor or nonexistent.

Baked goods needed adjustment, sometimes in really odd ways. I got hungry for popovers and could not make them work. I asked around, and none of the local chefs (or ordinary people for that matter) I knew made them and they were not on any restaurant menus. I worked on the problem for over a year, and then discovered that using a slightly higher amount of egg and a different size was the answer. Essentially, 4 extra small eggs instead of 3 large, as called for in my original recipe, was the secret. I have no idea why using the XS eggs worked, as I had tried adding more regular egg white and/or yolk and it failed. (and I know to only use fresh eggs) I was only able to get XS eggs from a local farmer who sold eggs at the flea market.

The real catch to all of this is that some formulas work well, like the baking powder adjustments given above, and others are approximate. I'd start keeping a journal and noting recipes and how they work out, so you have a reference for your altitude. (and humidity level, Santa Fe is pretty dry)

Enough rambling for now! :raz: If you have any more questions, I'll try to answer as best I can!

#11 Darienne

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 06:15 PM

Enough rambling for now!  :raz: If you have any more questions, I'll try to answer as best I can!

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Very interesting rambling :raz: !!!

I was telling my friend about this problem and she said that dried beans can take forever to cook up here which is still lower than where you are. That could well be another thing. I have cooked rice, made scones...the scones showed no changes from sea level...mostly biscuity things. No problems so far. But no Yorkshire puddings or cakes either.

We cooked both fresh and dried pasta. Ed cooked the dry...it did seem to take a long, long time as I recall.

So I used the Revolation this afternoon, with Guittard Eclipse a dark of about 56 % I think. First time using Guittard chocolate. Was the lowest viscosity chocolate I have ever used. Very liquidy. Another little glitch in a world lately of confectionary glitches.

However, after covering myself and everything else it seems in chocolate, it all worked well. The resulting dipped things are glossy and have a snap. Following Kerry Beal's advice, I'll just let them sit for I can't remember how many hours. Well, overnight anyhow. Except for the ones we eat now.

Thanks again. :wink:
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#12 Lisa Shock

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 09:48 PM

Glad the chocolate was a success! It's always great to hear that first snap confirming that it was done correctly!

Beans do take longer to cook at high altitude, but it's hard to say how much longer because there are also variables in the beans themselves -they take longer to cook if they are older. I would generally toss mine into a Crock Pot on low before going to bed and let them cook all night, so I wouldn't worry about timing as much. I usually, even now, make extra to keep in the fridge or freezer, so they make me several meals for my efforts. I don't care what Ruhlman says, the Crock Pot is indispensable for cooking dry beans in a busy household!

It might be useful for you to cut back a little on baking powder in scones and american biscuits. American style cookies will definitely need adjustment, or else chewy ones may turn out more cakey, or runny, or other odd ways.

Yorkshire puddings...well...that's pretty much popovers, and experiment time. I'd be certain to use bread flour as part of the flour mix (many recipes call for it anyway) and I'd make sure to let the batter rest before use. Other than that, you'll have to adjust liquids and such and accept a few batches of hockey-pucks before perfection arrives. A little more egg, maybe a tablespoon or two, would be the direction I'd experiment with, though. And, if you succeed, you'll be a foodie legend in your area!

Have fun!

#13 XagaEnergon

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Posted 01 November 2008 - 09:51 PM

Pasta, especially dry pasta, takes a lot longer to cook and never tasted quite 'right' to me. It worked a bit better if you didn't salt the cooking water, which also lowers boiling point, but then the pasta was never seasoned properly in addition to not being quite right. I think that was my biggest gripe.

...

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Adding salt to water should raise the boiling point, not lower it. This is a colligative property, water should boil at higher temperatures and freeze at lower temperatures. The thing to be careful about is to not get, say, a drop of detergent into the water, because surfactants reduce surface tension.

#14 Lisa Shock

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 11:33 AM

Whoops! Sorry about that. Guess I had a bad myth stuck in my head. (always heard as a kid that salt made water boil faster)

Further research reveals that while salt will help, but won't, depending on your exact altitude, make it the same as sea level. (I used to see water boil at 198F, a 2 degree increase helps, but doesn't take it up to 212F.)

It also appears that, according to the USDA, meat and poultry will take longer to cook.

#15 Darienne

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 02:59 PM

It also appears that, according to the USDA, meat and poultry will take longer to cook.

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Thanks for that link. Downloaded it and will read it pronto. Never gave a thought to the difference the altitude could make in cooking. :wacko:
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#16 pastrygirl

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Posted 02 November 2008 - 07:55 PM

I'm at 7500 feet most of the time and I've noticed two altitude related problems with candy. One is that if I'm making a fairly stiff ganache, the cream is sometimes not hot enough to melt all of the chocolate. It boils at 198F here, and sometimes that extra 14 degrees of heat would be really useful. The other thing is that my attempts at agar jellies/pate de fruits seem to get moldy after only a few weeks, and I am wondering if this is due to less sterilizaton happening with cooking to lower temperatures. Tempering, however, is not any more problematic than normal.

#17 Darienne

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 07:19 AM

I'm at 7500 feet most of the time and I've noticed two altitude related problems with candy.  One is that if I'm making a fairly stiff ganache, the cream is sometimes not hot enough to melt all of the chocolate.  It boils at 198F here, and sometimes that extra 14 degrees of heat would be really useful.  The other thing is that my attempts at agar jellies/pate de fruits seem to get moldy after only a few weeks, and I am wondering if this is due to less sterilizaton happening with cooking to lower temperatures.  Tempering, however, is not any more problematic than normal.

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Thanks, Pastry Girl. All good to know.
The Flatlander :biggrin:
Darienne


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