High-Altitude Recipe Adjustment

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Many people tell me they have issues with cooking when they move to our “Mile-High City.” There’s a reason for that: as altitude increases, air pressure decreases. That means that water boils at a lower temperature here. At sea level water boils at 212°. In Denver it boils at 202°. That means that foods that are cooked in water, such as pasta, will take longer to cook.

The lower air pressure will have an even greater effect on baked goods – cakes, cookies and quick breads.As baked goods rise in the oven, they meet with less resistance and if not adjusted, the cells will over expand and collapse resulting in a reduced volume – “the cake that falls.”There are a couple of simple adjustments to make to your sea-level recipes that will help.

First, reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons per cup.Second, reduce the baking powder by ¼ teaspoon per teaspoon.Those two simple adjustments should do the trick, but depending upon ingredient proportions, you may need to also increase the liquid or flour slightly.With a little experimentation you can still get great results with your favorite recipes.Just be glad you don’t have to bake in Leadville where the altitude is over 10,000 feet above sea level!