Last summer I was living in Sierra Vista, Arizona. Home to a stretch of the San Pedro River, it’s located at the base of the Huachuca Mountains and borders Mexico. It is truly a beautiful area, with epic sunsets and limitless desert scenery. It also sits at about 4,600 feet above sea level.
Originally, I thought the high elevation would simply make running a bigger pain in my rear end. As it turns out, it screws with your baked goods, too! My muffins never seemed to bake in the directed time, and after playing around with what I thought was an offbeat oven, I figured a few things out.
The higher the altitude, the lower the air pressure. This messes with the precise science that is baking. Foods rise quicker, take longer to bake, and are prone to drying.
Trial and error is the best way to figure out the exact adjustments needed to produce your perfect baked good. If the original recipe isn’t turning out right, try these 5 steps until it’s perfect every time.
- 1. Allow a bit more cooking time (in the case of my banana bread, cooking time doubled!).
- 2. Increase oven temperature by 15-20 degrees.
- 3. Cut a bit of sugar. It can become more concentrated since liquids evaporate more quickly. So you’ll also want to…
- 4. Add more liquid (water, oil, applesauce, butter).
- 5. Cut the baking powder. A little change makes a big difference here!
Remember to make small adjustments. Often times a tablespoon less of sugar and 7 minutes longer in the oven was enough to perfect a recipe. If, however, you live in a town above 6,000 feet, your adjustments may be more dramatic.
These are the steps that worked for me. I hope they make your altitude cooking experience a little easier!