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High Altitude Baking Conversion

JudyK's picture

I recently returned from a trip to Boulder, Co. with a wonderful scone recipe from the B&B where we stayed.  The problem I have is that the recipe is for baking at Colorado's altitude. Can anyone help me with the conversion for baking at sea level?  The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups of flour.  I think I'm supposed to reduce that, but by how much?  Any insight is appreciated.


Judy K.


 

MadMom's picture

(post #32607, reply #1 of 10)

Here are some things I found while googling for high altitude conversions.  Obviously, you would go the other way if you are converting a high altitude recipe to use at a lower altitude.  I've put some suggested changes for going from high altitude to low in italics.


High-Altitude Conversion Tips

To convert standard recipes into those that can be used for high-altitude baking:


Use 5% more flour to disperse the leavening action and slow down the rapid rise of the cake.  (In other words, decrease the flour in the recipe by about 5 - 6%)


Use 20% more water to counterbalance the rapid evaporation of liquids at high altitudes and the extra flour added to the cake batter.  (Decrease the water by one fourth)


Bake about 25 degrees higher to help "set" the cake's crust. (Reduce the temperature given in the recipe by 25 degrees.)


Reduce baking time by about 20% to prevent overbaking at the higher temperature. (Baking time might be increased by one fourth.)


Fill pans 1/3 to no more than 1/2 full to avoid batter overflow caused by rapid cake expansion.


Use cold water and large, cold eggs to give cake extra strength (I would use room temperature water and eggs.)


Generously grease and flour cake pans to prevent cake from sticking.


Remove top oven rack to prevent cake from sticking to it, since high-altitude cakes rise higher.


Have oven calibrated by a serviceperson periodically, since some thermostats are affected by altitude.


High-Altitude Cookie Adjustment

Only cookies with lots of chocolate, nuts, or dates need adjustment: Reduce baking powder/soda by 1/2. (Double the amount of leavening.)


At very high altitudes, a slight reduction of sugar may help.




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JudyK's picture

(post #32607, reply #5 of 10)

Thanks for the low altitude conversions.  As a newcomer to this forum, I really appreciate the help.  I'll try the scones, keep notes, and post the recipe if they are as delicious as they were in Boulder.


Judy K.

Gretchen's picture

(post #32607, reply #2 of 10)

I would make it as is, with maybe a tad less flour (keep a record) and I bet it will be fine.  OUr kids live in Denver and I know they don't make any big effort to change directions--not that they are chefs or anything.  It's boiling water that gets to me.

Gretchen

Gretchen
MadMom's picture

(post #32607, reply #3 of 10)

Oh yes, I remember trying to make bagels one time when visiting my cousin who lived in Littleton.  Not a good day at all.  Of course, Denver is about 2300 feet lower than Durango, where DD lived, so trying to cook things like spaghetti and rice at her house took a lot of determination. 



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

Gretchen's picture

(post #32607, reply #4 of 10)

Oh, yeah, once you are above Denver, all cooking bets are off. When we went skiing it was really hard to cook stuff like chili, etc.

Gretchen

Gretchen
NovusAdGustum's picture

(post #32607, reply #6 of 10)

I would add that when tweaking a recipe from sea level to high altitude, or vice-versa, one should never attempt all the items listed by MadMom at once. My experience puts adjustment of the amount of leavening to be the variant that most affects the success/failure. Start there. Good luck. Mmmmmm...mmm, scones.

JudyK's picture

(post #32607, reply #7 of 10)

Thanks for the warning.  At the recommendation of the inn keeper from whom I got the recipe, I thought I would start by tweaking the amount of flour first.  Since these are scones, I should be able to tell when I shape them if they are too wet or dry and can adjust a bit from there.  These were amazing because they were almost cakey so I'm hoping that with a little experimentation, I can get them right.

jojo's picture

(post #32607, reply #8 of 10)

I live in Utah at 5000 feet.  I usually don't tweak the recipe at all the first time I make it.  Usuallly I don't have problems.  If there are problems, then I start with the flour.

KitchenWitch's picture

(post #32607, reply #9 of 10)

Same here, California at 5000 ft.
I don't typically change the ingredients, but a time adjustment is often called for.

~RuthAnn


<insert witticism here>

~RuthAnn

jojo's picture

(post #32607, reply #10 of 10)

You are so right.  I guess that there are so many variables to change the cooking time (your own oven variables, etc.), that I didn't really think of altitude being such a big factor, but of course that makes perfect sense.  I laugh when my kids are studying science and trying to memorize the temperatures of boiling water--I always say "that depends on where you are".   My sister-in-law lives at 8000 ft. in the mountains above Denver.  I got her a rice cooker for Christmas a couple of years ago, mostly because I got so frustrated trying to get the water hot enough to cook the rice in a reasonable amount of time.