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High-Altitude Baking

Photo by Fernanda Martinez on Unsplash

Holiday cooking is popular this time of year. One tip to making the best treats is to adjust your recipes for high-altitude. If you have ever experienced cookies that turn out flatter than pancakes or cakes that sink in the middle like the Grand Canyon you know how important those high-altitude adjustments are.

History of High-Altitude Baking

It is so appropriate that the science of high-altitude cooking was developed in the Colorado Mountains, since the entire state of Colorado is considered to be high elevation. High-altitude cooking was born at Colorado State University. In the first half of the 20th century, Inga Allison, a pioneer, experimented with high-altitude baking at the Fall River Road shelter house near Estes Park. A CSU Physics Professor, Charles Lory and Inga collaborated to conceive the idea of a high-altitude cooking laboratory. The lab was built in 1927 in the Guggenheim Building. Inga tested recipes in the lab under a range of altitude conditions.

Baking Tips

Be prepared to cook at high-altitude. Get quality ingredients that are not expired, as baking soda and baking powder lose effectiveness as they age. Some recipes come with high-altitude instructions, but if not, you'll want to make adjustments one at a time to see how each change impacts the recipe. Take good notes until you find all the necessary alterations.

Increasing the oven temperature and reducing the baking time can help cakes and cookies from collapsing and spreading. Slight reductions in the amount of baking powder or baking soda can help too. You may need to decrease the amount of sugar or fat. Use higher-protein flour and extra-large eggs. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper so cookies don't brown too much. CSU has the best tips for high-altitude baking and cooking.

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