High Altitude Baking Tips From a Colorado Pastry Chef
At more than one mile above sea level—6,035 feet to be exact—Colorado Springs can be a challenging place to bake delicious goodies. Today, Bethaney Rogers, Garden of the Gods Club’s lead PM pastry chef, shares her favorite tips for creating yummy baked goods at a high altitude. Bethaney combines her background in art and illustration with her fascination with cake decorating and baking to create what she refers to as “edible art.” To gain more insight on how you can do this as well (yes, even at Colorado’s altitude!) keep reading below.
1. Learn how to adjust flour. “When baking at a high altitude, the bubbles from the liquid in batter expand more than they would at lower altitudes, which can cause breads and cakes to sink in the middle,” Bethaney said. “To counter this, increase the flour by up to 2 tablespoons [see conversion chart below]. The extra flour helps those bubbles to not expand as much.”
2. Understand the difference between baking powder and baking soda. Although many people think that baking powder and baking soda are interchangeable, they actually serve two different purposes. While baking soda enables your baked good to spread out, baking powder helps it to rise. “A good way to remember this difference is to think about what would happen if you dumped out a glass of soda. It would spread out everywhere,” Bethaney explained. “If you were to pour out a bottle of baking powder, it mounds up,” she continued. “With this in mind, you can decrease the baking powder or baking soda by one-eighth to one-quarter of a teaspoon, depending on the result you want; however, only do this if you’ve already tried increasing the flour and have not achieved the desired result.”
3. Compensate for a lower boiling point. At higher altitudes, water not only boils at a lower temperature, but it also evaporates faster. This can cause baked goods to be too dry. “To avoid dryness, I recommend increasing the liquid by two to four teaspoons,” Bethany advised. “For bread, add cool water, as it takes longer to heat up. You can also add steam or a warm mist during the first 20 seconds of baking,” she added. “This helps to ensure that the crust doesn’t get too hard, allowing both the inside and outside of your baked good to bake equally.”
4. Account for the changing seasons. In Colorado, we are lucky to enjoy all four seasons; however, varying temperatures and moisture levels can also affect the way your favorite baked goods taste. “Because Colorado is dry in the summer, add more yeast when baking to aid rising,” Bethaney said. “On the contrary, less yeast is needed during winter and fall, as there is generally more moisture in the air.”
Bethaney emphasizes that baking is different from cooking because it’s very scientific, and when baking at a high altitude, it’s important to experiment until you get the results you want. At Garden of the Gods Club, Members and Lodge guests enjoy delicious, fresh-baked goods, as well as monthly cooking classes on a variety of topics. Interested in learning more about membership at Garden of the Gods Club? We encourage you to chat with Membership Director Tracey Kalata by calling 719.520.4980 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.