High Altitude Cooking and Baking
Hi my name is Cammy and I live in Rio Rancho, NM which is a suburb of Albuquerque. I would like to make the following disclaimers: 1) I am not a home economist and 2) I do
not work with anyone or anything that has something to do with high altitude cooking and baking. To put it plainly, I like to bake.
I am a former Military Club Manager who has experience in cooking and baking for a crowd and had some formal training in this area. I was of the opinion that there was not
anything that I could not bake, and have it come out looking great, until I moved to New Mexico.
I was also known at my Catholic Church in my hometown of Decatur, IL as ‘Sister Mary Cookie Baker’, as I use to make cookies for the priest. I have been baking cookies, muffins,
cakes, pies and bread of all kinds since I was tall enough to see over the kitchen counter.
My first flirt with high altitude baking occurred when I was stationed in Alamogordo, NM which is at 4300 feet in elevation. Here in Rio Rancho, NM is the elevation is approximately
5,600 feet above sea level which is more than a mile high. My children were in their early teens and not baking was not an option. But when I started baking here in NM cookies came out flat, my cakes collapsed, and quick breads and muffins failed to rise.
What gives? I learned it was the altitude. Everything, for the most part, tasted just fine, they just looked like hell.
Here are some of my problems with baking at a higher altitude. Using tried and true recipes, which worked great at a lower altitude, such as cookies came out of the oven flat.
If I made cookies with chocolate chips, the chips were the highest thing in the cookie. Sugar cookies cut into specific shapes, like for Christmas, came out looking like unrecognizable blobs. My brownies were a compacted mess of usually undercooked batter.
I had to learn what I was doing wrong.
Throughout the last few years, I have been working on my baking, and cooking as it pertained to the higher elevation. In the process I have started accumulating “high altitude”
recipes that have worked for me at 5,000 – 7,000 feet.
There are two things that I have found will affect your baking. The first thing is leaveners like baking soda and baking powder. I found that using the amount of leaveners
called for in the recipe calls for will have an adverse fact on your baking. This was what was causing the pancake cookies. I had to start using less of the baking powder and soda. Other things that will cause your baked goods to just not come out correctly
include sugar, liquids and flour. Tweaking was required…so I started playing with the recipes.
I have attached the web site that I use the most for adjusting for higher altitudes. I like this site as it tells you not only what to do, but also tells you
WHY you need to make these adjustments.
You should know that just because the web site says you should do this and that for each recipe in the way of adjustments, sometimes you only need to make a few changes to make
them work. I like to play with a recipe by making two adjustments first and then tweaking as I go if I do not like the outcome. A case in point is my brownie recipe.
This was my first recipe that I adjusted for high altitude and that is the “One Bowl Brownies” from Baker’s Chocolate. This recipe has no leavening, and while I originally
made the recipe to exact specifications, it never came out correctly. It was a mess of compacted chocolate that looked like it was not baked enough, even though the crumb test showed it was done.
Below is the
High Altitude recipe for these brownies. I have shown in bold print those areas where I changed the recipe. After the adjusted recipe, is the original recipe so you can see where I made my adjustments. In the recipe below, I raised
the temperature in my oven, reduced the sugar, increased the flour and decreased the cooking time.
ONE BOWL BAKER’s BROWNIES – HA
1pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate
3/4cup butter or margarine
2 cups sugar less 2 Tablespoons
(Note: I put all of my sugar in a small bowl and then remove the excess sugar.
1 tsp. vanilla
1 ¼ cup flour
1 Cup chopped pecans or walnuts * (See note below)
HEAT oven to 365°F.
LINE 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Spray foil with
MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until
butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. If the chocolate does not melt, microwave for another 10-15 seconds.
Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and nuts (or other ingredients);
mix well. Pour into prepared pan.
BAKE 25 to 30 min,
or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely. Use foil handles to remove brownies from pan before cutting to serve.
Cammy Note: You
can substitute anything for the nuts. I have used coconut, and assorted flavors of chips and dried fruit. Just remember not to go over 1 cup total.
Here are some of my additions: ½ cup dark dried cherries and ½ cup dark or semi sweet chocolate; ½ cup white chocolate chips and ½ cup of dried apricots;
or ½ cup of your choice of nuts and ½ cup of chips or just one cup of chips. You can also do a brownie where you add in marshmallows, nuts and chips for a Rocky Road brownie. As you can see I really like to go nuts on this one!!
ORIGINAL ONE BOWL BROWNIE RECIPE:
< 1pkg. (4 oz.) BAKER'S Unsweetened Chocolate
< 3/4cup butter or margarine
< 2 cups sugar
< 3 eggs
< 1 tsp. vanilla
< 1 cup flour
< 1 cup coarsely chopped PLANTERS Pecans
HEAT oven to 350°F.
LINE 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Spray foil with cooking spray.
MICROWAVE chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar.
Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and nuts; mix well. Pour into prepared pan.
BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool completely. Use foil handles to remove brownies
from pan before cutting to serve.
Give this brownie recipe a shot. I am sure you will like the difference in the brownies. Note that I put HA for High Altitude after I revise a recipe. That way I can keep
them separate from the original recipe that is causing me problems.
See you next week.