High Altitude Baking Myths?

High altitude bakers can find ubiquitous bookmarks listing rules, do’s and don’ts, tips for success...but do they really work? Are they myth-taken? When I put popular tips to the test in actual mountain-top kitchens, I was in for a big surprise...many of the rules were wrong! Don’t bake on a mountaintop before reading this chapter.

For example:
Always substitute extra-large eggs for medium or large eggs when baking at high altitude.
Right and Wrong. Sometimes a large egg is just the right amount, but sometimes bigger is better, adding extra liquid and protein to a batter. It all depends on what the batter needs. An egg yolk is all fat (and contains an emulsifier), the whites are protein (which add strength, but too much white can dry out a batter). One large egg=3 tablespoons of liquid, and extra-large egg = 4 to 5 tablespoons liquid. Egg grading and size vary, so you can’t depend on an extra-large egg for an all-purpose fix.

Above sea level, raise baking temperature 25 degrees”. Wrong. It depends upon what you are baking, and the specific altitude. Raising the heat can cause a cake to crust over on top before it bakes inside, or it can make cookies spread too fast and burn. Sometimes using moderate heat for a longer baking time is a better solution.



Always reduce leavening as altitude rises.
Right and Wrong. Through 5,000 feet, leavening in cakes can sometimes be the same as at sea level; at higher elevations you usually need to cut back on chemical leaveners slightly. Ratios of baking powder to baking soda must be carefully balanced. Yeast breads rises more quickly above 5,000 feet; yeast quantities can be reduced slightly and/or dough can be refrigerated to slow rising, or punched down more often.

Boxed or packaged mixes always work at high altitude.
Wrong. They don’t work properly over 6,500 feet.


You Should…?
• Reduce fat in all rich cake recipes as altitude increases
• Make no adjustments to pie crusts, pie fillings, or cookie recipes at altitude
• Watch out for cake batters overflowing their pans at high altitude
• Use smaller pans when baking at all high altitudes

Want more? Order Pie in the Sky to find the answers.



HighAltitudeBaking.Com © 2005 Susan G. Purdy. All Rights reserved. Pie In The Sky © 2005 Susan G. Purdy / Morrow / HarperCollins.