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How to Bake at High Altitudes

The Important Change You Must Make If You're Baking at High Altitudes

If your mountain getaway plans include conquering a baking project, you'll want to make one very important change, because not all baking recipes are created equal, especially when you're at high altitude. The trick is that if your recipe contains a chemical leavener, aka something like baking powder or baking soda, you have to adjust the amount to make up for the difference in elevation. When you're at a higher elevation, liquid evaporates more quickly and requires a decrease in dry ingredients like baking powder and an increase in wet ingredients like milk. You could easily end up with flat biscuits or a cake that failed to rise if you don't make changes to your recipe.

As I'm not the savviest baker, I learned this surprising tip while watching Carla Hall make biscuits and cornbread at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Needless to say, we were at an elevation so high that my ears continued to pop, and Carla didn't want to end up with less-than-impressive biscuits in front of a crowd. Before mixing together her salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, flour, and shortening (her secret ingredient), she made sure to Google the exact changes she should make at her current altitude.

Baking powder or baking soda 3,000-5,000 feet 5,000-6,500 feet 6,500-8,000 feet
1 teaspoon 7/8 1/2 1/4
1 1/2 teaspoons 1 1/4 3/4 1/2
2 teaspoons 1 1/2 1 3/4
2 1/2 teaspoons 1 3/4 1 1/4 1
3 teaspoons 2 1 1/4 1
3 1/2 teaspoons 2 1/2 1 1/2 1
4 teaspoons 2 1/2 1 1/2 1

Source: King Arthur Flour

If you have similar plans for any quiet vacations, like making the drop biscuits pictured above, chocolate chip cookies, or chocolate cake, refer to this handy chart that outlines the measurement changes for baking powder and baking soda, and get even more tips for adjusting baking measurements in high altitude.

Travel and expenses for the author were provided by the Colorado Tourism Board for the purpose of writing this story.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
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