I will not sugarcoat it…Denver baking at high altitude is a nightmare...plain and simple.
Think I am kidding?
Try it the way you used to before you came to Denver!
A lot of people move to Denver and expect the quality of life to be at least as good as the place they left…and it normally is…except for one room in the house.
The nightmare kitchen!
How did your beloved kitchen turn into such a disaster?
Don’t worry…you haven’t lost your touch….we will help you make the adjustment so you can bake freely without losing your confidence.
First a little background on why baking in Denver at high altitude is so complicated…
The main factor affecting baked items is the low pressure resulting from the higher altitude. This leads to lower boiling points, faster evaporation and rapid rising. In addition, low humidity dries out things like flour, causing a dry, crumbly product.
In Denver baking in high altitude, boiling liquids evaporate more rapidly, creating the need for more liquid in baking.
Decreased air pressure also means some ingredients have to be adjusted. Leavening agents (whipped air, baking powder and baking soda) cause the gases in breads or cakes to expand faster, so baked goods rise faster (often over rising then falling). One teaspoon of baking powder at 5,000 feet produces 20 percent more volume than at sea level. Bread also rises faster and must be watched.
The three basic adjustments for high-altitude baking are: to reduce baking powder (for each teaspoon decrease 1/8-¼ teaspoon at 6,000 feet, reduce sugar (for each cup decrease up to 2 tablespoons at 6,000 feet, and to increase liquid (for each cup add 2 to 4 tablespoons at 6,000 feet.
Dry ingredients, especially flour, should be stored in airtight containers in this low humidity. Often, less flour or an additional tablespoon of liquid per cup of flour may bring a batter or dough to correct consistency.
Most cake recipes need no modification up to an altitude of 3,000 feet. Above this, the lower atmospheric pressure may allow excessive rising, which stretches the cell structure of the cake, making the texture coarse, or breaking the cells and causing the cake to fall. Because excessive evaporation of liquid at high altitude also leads
to a higher concentration of sugar and fat that can further weaken cell structure, decreasing the proportion of sugar and fat and increasing the proportion of liquid can also help. In some recipes, adding an extra egg may be all that is needed. Eggs contain protein that helps strengthen cell structure.
Cakes tend to stick more at high altitudes, so be sure to grease pans well and dust with flour or line with parchment paper.
In addition to these changes, increasing baking temperature 15 to 25 degrees (unless using a glass pan) helps "set" the cell framework to prevent collapsing. Baking time might need to be reduced by about 20 percent to prevent over baking.
Pie crusts can be a challenge with Denver baking in high altitude..
To get a tender and flaky crust, have all ingredients at 70 degrees (room temperature) and preheat oven. Too much flour produces a tough crust; too little makes it soggy. Sometimes, adding more liquid (up to 25 percent more) helps to hydrate the flour. A non-shiny, metal pan generally helps achieve a good, brown crust.
There you have it…no need to thank us..we won’t be offended by a delivery of whatever you baked.
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