High Altitude Baking



No matter how much you love Colorado, living a mile high has its drawbacks when it comes to baking. High altitude and low pressure can spell disaster for homemade bread, cookies and cakes.

Here are a few tips to help your baked goods turn out just right.


Tips

When it comes to baking at altitude, it's all about the leavening agent. A leavening agent is any ingredient that causes expansion of dough and helps baked goods rise. These include baking soda, baking powder and yeast.

At high altitudes the air is thinner, which means there's less resistance as the leavening agents push the dough higher.

The air at altitude is also drier, which makes dough dry out and rise more quickly. This can create air pockets in your dough that can then collapse leading to flattened baked goods and sadness.

Some rules of thumb:

  • Decrease leavening agent by half            
    • this helps baked goods rise more gradually to prevent collapsing
  • Increase liquids by 1–2 tablespoons per cup            
    • this helps to compensate for the faster evaporation rate at altitude
    • for eggs this means using extra large instead of large 
  • Decrease sugar by 1–2 tablespoons per cup            
    • evaporation causes the concentration of sugar to be higher, so this needs to be reduced
  • Increase flour by 1–2 tablespoons per cup            
    • added flour will help steady the rise of your baked goods

Other tips to try:

  • Increase oven temperature by 15 degrees
    • this helps baked goods set up faster 
  • Decrease baking time by 20-30%
    • this helps compensate for higher temperature so you don't end up with dried out baked goods
  • Line baking pans with parchment, or grease well and dust with flour
    • this helps baked goods release easier 

Try one or two adjustments at a time to gauge the results. Individual recipes will vary, so be ready to use trial and error and don't give up! 


Local Resources

9News article on how to adjust recipes when baking at altitude, opens a new window

Denver Post article with tips on high altitude baking, opens a new window


Cookbooks

High Plains Sifter

Sugar High

Tasting Colorado


Find more digital materials on baking that you can access from home!


Any physical cookbook can be added to your For Later shelf to put on hold and check out after the library reopens. To do this click on "Add to My Shelves" then select "For Later." 

Baking at High Altitude

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