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Baking and Cooking

Transition to the high altitude can be a culinary catastrophe for the uninitiated.

It isn't called the Mile High City for nothing. It is true and that fact remains. Denver is one mile above sea level, the altitude affects food preparation. If you are new to higher elevations, it might be a good idea to adhere to the following recommendations before preparing a feast or simple nuking a TV dinner.

Cooking times and various proportions of ingredients must be adjusted due to the difference in air pressure in Denver. Water boils at 202 degrees here as opposed to boiling at 212 degrees at lower elevations. What does this mean? Well, food cooks at lower temperatures in Denver, therefore cooking times will be longer. Low air pressure also causes baked goods to rise much faster, leaving your leavening time considerably shorter than usual. So leave your biscuits in the oven longer and your tea not boiling so long. Amazing how those seemingly useless tidbits of knowledge they teach us in science class actually come in handy in the real world.

When cakes rise too fast they can be coarse and dry and have a sunken middle.

For more information, see below for a PDF document about High Altitude Cooking.

If you are using a box cake mix - do follow their recommended directions for high altitude baking. There still may be some adjustments that you will have to make . Maybe add another egg. Successful baking at high altitudes is achievable - Don't be afraid to see what works for you. Some other tips to be aware of so your cakes do not turn out coarse, dry, or fallen are: Don't over beat your eggs and having them at room temperature prior to use will help. Increase liquid to compensate for the dryness of flour. Consider using buttermilk or sour cream to add moisture. Increase the amount of flour. 1 tablespoon up to 5,000 ft., 2 tablespoons at 6,500 ft. and 3 tablespoons at over 6,500 ft. Reduce the amount of sugar. Up to 5,000 ft. decrease by 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons and over 6,500 ft. decrease by 3 tablespoons. Do not use self rising flour as it will have an overexpansion. Don't over mix ingredients. Depending on your oven sometimes it may be necessary to increase baking temperature - At 3,500 - 6,500 increase by 15%-25% and 6,500 ft. and over increase by 25% - but you may need to do a little experimenting. So please invest in an oven thermometer so you know the exact temp of your oven. And then you will know for sure what works best for you.
If other aspects of high altitude cooking interest you - Check Betty Crocker Web site For a PDF document on high altitude cooking click on "High Altitude Cooking" to the right.

There are many high-altitude cookbooks available.
A few of the most popular:

  • Creme de Colorado Cookbook
    C & C Publications
  • Colorado Cache Cookbook
    C & C Publications
  • Cooking with Colorado's Greatest Chefs
    Westcliffe Publishers, Inc.

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