High Altitude Cake Baking Article - Allrecipes.com
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High Altitude Cake Baking

Learn how to adjust recipes for high-altitude baking.

Why is high elevation a problem when baking?


Lower air pressure at high elevations causes air bubbles trapped in the batter to rise at a faster rate. When this happens, cakes rise very fast and high...then fall. As a result, you end up with a dense, dry cake. 

So, what do I do?

  • You may need to change the proportion of ingredients in a recipe.
  • You may need to raise the baking temperature as well.

Most cake recipes need no modification below or up to 3,000 feet. Above that, it's often necessary to adjust recipes slightly, by decreasing the leavening and sugar (or both) and increasing the liquids. Butter, which melts in the oven, is considered a liquid; eggs, however, are not--they act as stabilizers in baked goods.


Baking


Avoid dry cakes and quick breads with these tips.

For cakes using baking powder:

  • Don't overbeat the eggs. Overbeating adds too much air to the cake.
  • Raise the baking temperature slightly; the faster cooking time will keep the recipe from rising too much. At elevations over 3,500 feet, the oven temperature for batters and doughs should be about 25 degrees F higher than the temperature used at sea level.
  • Decrease the amount of baking powder slightly; this also prevents the recipe from rising too much.

For yeast coffee cakes:

Yeast cakes rise more quickly at high altitudes, so watch your dough carefully and judge the rise time by the change in the dough's bulk, not by the amount of time it takes. Proofing time for yeast cakes should be reduced.

More tips:

  • Cakes tend to stick more when they are baked at high altitudes, so always grease your baking pans well and dust them with flour, or line them with parchment paper.
  • Fill pans only 1/2 full of batter, not the usual 2/3 full, as high altitude cakes may overflow.

Follow the chart below for more specific adjustments. When adapting a recipe for high altitudes, always start out with the smallest adjustment then add more adjustments later and only if necessary. It's a good idea to keep notes of how you adjusted your recipes until you know what works best for your particular location.


Adjustment for 3000 feet:

  • Reduce baking powder: for each teaspoon decrease 1/8 teaspoon.
  • Reduce sugar: for each cup, decrease 0 to 1 tablespoon.
  • Increase liquid: for each cup, add 1 to 2 tablespoons.
  • Increase oven temperature by 25 degrees F.


Adjustment for 5000 feet:

  • Reduce baking powder: for each teaspoon, decrease 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Reduce sugar: for each cup, decrease 0 to 2 tablespoons.
    Increase liquid: for each cup, add 2 to 4 tablespoons.
  • Increase oven temperature by 25 degrees F.


Adjustment for 7000+ feet:

  • Reduce baking powder: for each teaspoon, decrease 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Reduce sugar: for each cup, decrease 1 to 3 tablespoons.
  • Increase liquid: for each cup, add 3 to 4 tablespoons.
  • Increase oven temperature by 25 degrees F. 


Comments
Carol's recipies 
Jul. 9, 2009 8:11 am
You have some great sounding recipes. I am going to try the persimmon bread when we are able to buy persimmons
 
Susan Kay 
Jul. 12, 2009 11:44 am
Thank you for this - I have not seen much help for altitude above 7000. I was getting discouraged, but now I am excited to try baking again.
 
Penny 
Jul. 26, 2009 8:12 pm
I'm with you Susan Kay. I have to chuckle when I see the adjustments on the side of the packet for high elevations "above 3500 ft." Now, I was taught that there were THREE increases, and THREE decreases. Your instructions above describe two of each, but I don't see a mention of a increase in flour, or a decrease in oil/shortening. Has the theory changed about them now?
 
Pantea 
Jul. 29, 2009 9:09 am
It is great that you are giving guide to how to cook or bake at higher elevation. Since we moved to a higher elevation, I really have not been able to bake right! some times, It comes out great, but most of the time, it seems not too. so , there is no suggestions in changing the time that spends in the oven, just to increase by 25 degrees F?
 
LR 
Jul. 29, 2009 12:02 pm
Just the information I needed, don't have problems when baking ready cake mixes but I want to make my puertorrican ponqué family recipe and since I live now at an 5000 ft altitude I know it will need some adjustments!! thanks!
 
Brudy 
Aug. 1, 2009 10:56 am
Hello, I am curious about pound cakes. Why do pound cakes split when baking? Is this the pound cake a trait.? Also I have seen pound cakes that did not split on the top. Thanks
 
Julie Powers 
Aug. 17, 2009 8:39 pm
Pound cakes splitting: consider placing cakepan within a larger one - and add water to 'outside/larger' pan so that it is half filled with water (once the cake pan is resting inside). As with cheesecake baking, that seems to help with pound cakes as well.
 
Reno mom 
Aug. 24, 2009 8:52 pm
I wish I had found this site earlier today, I made two batches of homemade choc chip and peanut butter cookies - that ended up looking like tortillas!! I will let my remaining dough come to room temperature and try baking at the higher temp - since it is too late to make changes to the ingredients lol
 
Earlene 
Sep. 9, 2009 3:49 pm
Did the adjustment for 7000 feet on the red velvet cake and it turned out perfect. Thank you.
 
eea 
Sep. 26, 2009 1:03 pm
This may be a dumb question. What if I'm baking a flourless chocolate cake? Since it doesn't have baking powder in it, should I make adjustments? I'm at 5,000 feet.
 
Schmoo 
Sep. 26, 2009 2:36 pm
any suggestions for above 10k feet? I am currently at 12000 feet above sea level, and well lived my whole life at sea level till now.
 
Leslie S 
Oct. 22, 2009 4:17 pm
What about recipes that don't call for baking powder but baking soda instead? I'm specifically looking at the excellent recipe on this site - Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread. What would be your suggestions for 5000 feet?
 
Linda K. 
Nov. 2, 2009 8:25 am
I live at 3200 feet in the high desert of California so I deal with extremely dry air also. I put a large pan of water in the bottom of my gas oven as well as a heavy baking stone to temper the heat and humidity.
 
Nov. 21, 2009 12:56 pm
I am confused, I am at 5200 feet and when I make yeast breads it seems to take forever to rise and while it comes out tasting ok, it is always more dense and not as light and airy the way they were at see level. So does this article apply to cakes only, or any levened baked goods?
 
Sadie 
Jan. 3, 2010 8:54 pm
Would someone tell me what it means to "sponge rise bread dough."Im new at trying to bake bread and would like to try this recipe. Thanks
 
chinnus 
Jan. 15, 2010 4:07 am
Pls tell me the different between baking soda and baking power
 
Kitten 
Jan. 17, 2010 1:45 am
Go to All recipes web site and click on the Recipe exchange and ask your questions. Many Many people are on there who can gladly help you.
 
Jan. 21, 2010 11:03 am
An excellent cook book related to high altitude baking is Pie in the Sky Successful Baking at High Altitudes: 100 Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Breads, and Pastries Home-tested for Baking at Sea Level, 3,000, 5,000, 7,000, and 10,000 feet (and Anywhere in Between). by Susan Gold Purdy
 
natasha 
Feb. 25, 2010 8:23 am
thank you, this is very helpful,because i can never quite get my cakes high enough
 
Nonna 
Jun. 27, 2010 2:37 pm
How about abover 9,000 Ft.?
 
Aug. 28, 2010 1:45 am
how to bake a soft sponge cake ?
 
Sep. 29, 2010 10:48 am
Thank you so much. We just moved to an elevation of over 8,000 ft. and i had no idea how to make adjustments for high altitude. Greatly Appreciated!
 
Oct. 3, 2010 8:28 am
I wish that user's would specify their own altitude on recipes that require baking- it's difficult to figure out which way the recipe should be adjusted for my own elevation when the original recipe could have been meant for a location at sea level or a location in the Rockies!
 
Jan. 1, 2011 10:14 am
Great ideas!
 
Jan. 22, 2011 5:42 pm
I live at 5500 feet and find that making adjustments for cookies is also important. Then I found that baking with a convection oven really helped with the "spreading" problem. I no longer get the tortilla thin cookies that I am known for from my nieces and nephews in college! ;-)
 
ColoradoJourney 
Feb. 4, 2011 8:43 am
Thanks, Cammy. I have a convection oven option with my stove but seldom use it for cookies or cakes. I'd given up on baking cakes at 8500 feet. This is a great article and am going to try the changes recommended AND my convection oven!!
 
Elizabeth 
Mar. 12, 2011 6:08 pm
I have a recipe for a date cake which I adapted for high altitude per your instructions. I have a convection oven so I raised the temperature 15 degree. I also added 1/2 c mini choc chips. It still fell and while tasty it is more torte than cake. Is there a place I can go and enter the recipe and it will automatically be correctly adapted?
 
greenchile 
Mar. 30, 2011 12:37 pm
I always add extra egg if the recipe is asking for 3 eggs, just add one more egg so your cake will come out moist
 
crazy-shopper 
Apr. 10, 2011 5:19 pm
Hello, i really would love to bake from scratch, but it hasnt work out. so am thinking it has to do with the high altitude. which one should i use the 5,000 ft or 7,000 ft? am a little over 6,000 ft.
 
Jun. 5, 2011 9:09 am
I have the same question as crazy-shopper above. Albuquerque is at about 6,000 feet - I just moved here from Arkansas and nothing I bake is turning out right.
 
Jul. 3, 2011 7:17 pm
Surprised that the article didn't mention increasing the flour. 3,000 feet 0-1 tablespoon. 5,000 feet 0-2 tablespoon. 7,000 feet 3-4 tablespoon. The increase in flour makes a big difference when cooking at a higher altitude.
 
Jul. 3, 2011 7:19 pm
The increase in flour is for each cup.
 
calmmom 
Jul. 16, 2011 8:14 am
Is there a solution to going the other way, taking a high altitude recipe and adjusting it to a lower altitude? I have a recipe from Colorado, which the altitude is 7,666 and I now live in Missouri, which is 965. It is my Grandmother's recipe for ice water cake and is very good!
 
nana 
Jul. 24, 2011 9:15 am
I live in La Pine Oregon. We are over 3500 feet. I have learned to put a 1/4 cup of mayonaise to my receipe and I bake at 325 degrees for my cupcakes and they turn out perfect
 
fakey_ego 
Aug. 6, 2011 6:46 pm
i missed the part about NY style cheesecake...do i just follow the general guidelines to make it light and fluffy @ my altitude? or is there something more i need to do?
 
Ali 
Aug. 11, 2011 8:57 pm
Thank you all so much for your info. Now I need to know about baking at 7000 ft with the addition of humidity. Cakes take longer to cook and mostly sink in the middle.
 
winlog6 
Nov. 4, 2011 3:56 pm
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I live at about 7800 feet and my cakes ALWAYS fall...I tried your advice and my cake turned out flawless!!! So happy!! Thanks again!!
 
ange23 
Nov. 23, 2011 10:12 pm
I make Jamaica fruit cake and sometime it fall. I think i might be adding to much fruit to the mix or too much baking power. Am i right.
 
Ruhland 
Dec. 12, 2011 6:22 am
I use adjustments similar to these and they always turn out fine. I live at 12,000 feeeeeet! So, you can imagine my baking conditions are not the most stable. But after much practice its all good.
 
goodcakes 
Dec. 12, 2011 9:03 am
I am at 8300 ft. and in addition to using the suggested adjustments to the recipes, I bake all my cakes in a bundt pan or a tube pan. This provides additional heat to the center of the cake. Works wonders.
 
Quetzal 
Dec. 23, 2011 7:43 am
I would be extremely grateful if recipes could automatically be modified depending on elevation. I live at an elevation of 4700 feet, and the instructions for making angel food cake, for example, at this elevation are quite different from the standard directions. Understanding that it would require work on your part, is it at all possible to accommodate this request, or am I asking too much? Alternatively, perhaps you would consider including the modifications for higher elevations on the standard recipe? Thanks!
 
wizardofoz.com 
Feb. 10, 2012 11:05 am
I live north of Denver so am used to high altitude baking. All I every do is add about one tablespoon of flour and never have had a problem.
 
Nawlinslady1999 
Mar. 11, 2012 5:27 pm
I live in Alaska and when we go to the cabin north of Mt.Mckinley, we are only about 4,500 ft. above sea level. But, this helps to go by...half/half temps., etc.
 
SWTnGERMAN 
May 1, 2012 2:30 pm
I found a great book for High Alltitude Baking. Look up" The Muffin Lady" she is in Colorado, above 7000ft. I bought her book and now all my cake are great.
 
orangefrog 
May 28, 2012 7:57 pm
When viewing recipes throughout allrecipes, it would be very useful to see where people who post recipes are from! This would allow us to adjust the recipe from their environment to ours, resulting in fewer comments along the lines of "this recipe didn't work!"
 
Nov. 12, 2012 4:24 pm
I live at 9,500 feet. I can't seem to get anything to bake right.
 
kay 
Jul. 18, 2013 4:47 pm
I now live at 80 feet and though all the books on high altitude baking will say this doesn't affect the baking process, I've found a family recipe of over 13 years not to work here where we've moved to. Help anyone? I'm almost ready to give up on baking altogether.
 
Randi/The Muffin Lady 
Aug. 5, 2013 10:58 am
I have been baking at high altitude for many many years; initially to savor the recipes I grew up on and then by request, professionally for the past 21 years. 1st tip is nothing is level at high altitude, flour and liquid require a couple more tablespoon and sugar simply needs to be decreased by a small amount, as in measured to right below the measure line, but not by tablespoons. Sugar adds moisture to the product. The adjustments actually begin around 4000 ft. and if your having problem between 3000 and 4000 ft. above sea level, try adding an extra 2 teaspoons of flour per cup, plus the same amount of liquid to the batter. Sugar adds moisture in addition to flavor to the majority of baked goods, so why take the moisture out of the product in a dry atmosphere. Also If I raise the temperature it is only 5-8 degrees max, and depends on the oven as all bake and cook differently. I have also found that when raising the temperature more than this or that indicated in the rec
 
wendy 
Oct. 14, 2013 7:46 pm
I live in Hawaii and my cakes and brownies turn out so thin I just don't want to make them anymore I try to increase and decrease and they seem not to help so what do I do What I'm I doing wrong.......HELP!!!!!!
 
donut_dude 
Nov. 26, 2013 3:08 pm
So hi, new menber here with a serious question. Nearly 10 yrs. ago I started a bakery upstart out of my home using special pans to bake cakedonuts at home rather than fried and have come up with a huge selection of different flavors. I was living in east-central Illinois at the time, so my cakedonuts were light and airy, very much like a cake. 18 mos. ago I moved from there to Pensacola, Fl. and they have all turned out heavy and dense, what adjustments do I need to make to get them back how they were, even though I sift the dry ingredients together. I don't know what sea level Illinois was, but I am now below sea level. Any help is appreciated.
 
1995cobra 
Mar. 13, 2014 11:38 am
I live at 9000 ft alitude. When i bake cake mix cakes the center does not rise and the cake is very course. Do I add more water or oil and increase the oven temperature? The instructions for baking high alitude for the cake mixes does not work. Any suggesstions
 
Apr. 8, 2014 9:40 pm
Any suggestions for cheesecakes baking above 6500 ft? They have become my specialty, but now I am moving to a higher location and don't want to start all over again! Help!
 
Colleen L. 
Jun. 7, 2014 12:54 pm
Thank You! I have not been able to bake for three years, since moving to 5800 feet. Everything I have tried has failed. I just finished baking cupcakes using your adjustments and they turned out beautifully.
 
Lynn 
Aug. 10, 2014 5:11 pm
I followed the recipe for 7000+ feet. They came out amazing. Thank you
 
Sep. 6, 2014 7:25 am
I have been so frustrated with baking since moving to high altitude that I have not done it for over 10 years. This gives me courage to try again. Thank you.
 
 
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