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Tips for High Altitude Baking

Welcome to my blog page! So glad you are here. Read below to find out my best tips for baking in high altitude environments.

Do your cakes often sink in the middle when baking? Does your breads or muffins have gaping holes when you cut into them? Do your cakes taste dry rather than moist?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you have issues with high altitude baking. But these can easily be remedied!

I’ve struggled with this same issue so many times in my years of baking. I can’t tell you how many times I had to throw out cupcakes because, upon removing them from the oven, they sunk in. They looked like mini canyons in my cakes. Not a pleasant sight! And not something I would want to serve.

What is considered high altitude in terms of baking? Anything above 3000 feet is going to pose a problem for your cakes, breads, muffins or cookies. You should know that living in a high altitude area will have an outcome on your baked goods. But don’t be discouraged! Many bakers have gone before us to find remedies for our issues! After completing some tests of my own, I found what works for me! And I want to share those tips with you.

The problem: The gases in our leavening agents (baking powder or baking soda) are going to expand much faster in a high altitude environment. Your cake then rises too quickly and collapses because the gases weren’t given enough time to do their work. The liquids in our recipes boil at a lower temperature in high altitude which means they will evaporate more quickly. This results in a dry cake... often sticking to the sides of the pans.

The solutions: Now I live in Denver, Colorado where we are over 5,000 feet above sea level. So a lot of these solutions depend on your altitude. For me, one of the main solutions I’ve found to have worked is increasing the baking temperature by 15-25 degrees. If the standard recipe calls for 350 degrees, raise it to 375. This gives the leavening agents time to work their magic! The higher temperature sets the structure for the cake quicker, so that they won’t over expand or dry out!

Another adjustment could be reducing the leavening agents by 1/8-1/4 teaspoon for every teaspoon that the recipe calls for. You can also reduce the sugar by 1-2 tablespoons for each cup it calls for. Lastly, increasing the liquids in your recipe will help too. Increase them by 2-4 tablespoons for each cup of liquid. Of course, there is always an element of trial and error when “fixing” the problems with our baked goods! So try and try and try again, the testing is worth it! These strategies have proven to address some of the high altitude problems we face when baking.

Carry on, baker. You won’t have sunken cakes forever. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. Keep adapting, keep inventing, and keep on baking. The world needs your sweet treats. Xo, Whitney

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