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Baking at 7,000 feet

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Baking double fudge brownies, a carrot cake or a delectable French pastry may pose some difficulties at 7,000 feet above sea level.

Usually the box of cake or brownie mix will instruct you on adjustments needed for high altitudes, but what happens when you want to be creative and make that cake from scratch? We've asked some local baking experts generally what needs to be done to adjust for the high altitudes.

Chris Atbrank, baker at Blue Sage Bakery, said the higher you go up, the more adjustments need to be made.

"The basic fundamental difference here is the low atmospheric pressure compared to sea level," Atbrank said.

Before mentioning other general baking tips, Atbrank said he wants to remind people that the industrial ovens that he works with are different than the typical home oven because of the consistency of heat. However, for general baking, Atbrank suggested increasing the amount of flour and water and decreasing the amount of leavening.

"At lower atmospheric pressure, water boils at a lower temperature," Atbrank said of the 212-degree boiling point at sea level and the 200-degree boiling point in higher altitudes.

Basically, at higher altitudes, you need more water to solidify the starches because of the quick boiling water.

Sharon Allard, bakery manager at Off the Beaten Path, said there's three rules she and her kitchen crew live by: reduce baking powder by one-fourth of a teaspoon, reduce sugar from one to three tablespoons for each cup and increase liquid from three to four tablespoons for each cup.

"(Reduce the baking powder) because you don't want it to rise too fast. (Reduce sugar) because sugar compensates for liquid evaporation," Allard said.

Leavening includes yeast, baking powder and baking soda.

Allard said baked goods tend to rise quicker at higher altitudes, so you don't want to add substances to your product that would make them rise anymore.


Compiled by Kelly Silva

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