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Baking at Altitude


leleboo
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I'm finding myself out in the mountains of Colorado more and more these days, and I'm curious about how to adjust baking times for recipes that don't come with instructions for cooking at 7000 feet.

For the most part, I don't really bake; I have one go-to chocolate-chip cookie recipe that I can make with my eyes closed at this point, but I'm not a big dessert girl. I do, however, like to make gougères and soufflés, both of which I'm thinking will need some adjustment. The resources I've found online focus almost exclusively on pastry baking (cakes, pies, and breads), and don't give me too much insight into anything else.

For a soufflé, would I add extra egg whites, or just beat them more to incorporate more air? Do I need to change the temperature of the oven at all? Most baking sites say to increase the temperature, but I'm wondering if that would destroy a soufflé.

The gougères have me stumped, insofar as there's no real leavening agent, and the egg whites don't get beaten separately from the yolks. Are they just going to be dense little cheese pucks instead of airy cheese puffs? That's not the worst thing in the world, of course (<Homer> mmmm ... dense little cheese pucks </Homer>), but I've love what has become a signature dish for my dinner parties to turn out correctly.

Go to, science and cooking mavens! B) And thanks in advance for any and all ideas.

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High-altitude baking is a bit of an art beyond the science. I'll take a look at my Denver Junior League (among other) cookbooks when I get home and see (and call the Mom), but as far as souffles, they are tricky. Standard recipes will rise gloriously, too gloriously, and then fall. What you usually want to do in that case is beat the egg whites less, not more, so that there is less air incorporated. At high altitude, you need to counteract air, so you either beat less or add more structure (aka the ubiquitous add flour remove sugar) or both. And, sometimes, higher temperatures...although I've seen lower temps as well.

Oh, and don't assume the cookie recipe will work as well. As the Extension says: Although many sea-level cookie recipes yield acceptable results at high altitudes, they often can be improved by a slight increase in baking temperature, a slight decrease in baking powder or soda, a slight decrease in fat or sugar, and/or a slight increase in liquid ingredients. Many cookie recipes contain a higher proportion of sugar and fat than necessary, even at low altitudes.

The gougeres should be achievable. A place like Colt & Gray has them on their snack menu, though theirs might be more of a fried choux ball... I'll check my cookbooks to see if they have them (though I might have to look for "cheesy puffs" or the like).

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At high altitude, you need to counteract air, so you either beat less or add more structure (aka the ubiquitous add flour remove sugar) or both. And, sometimes, higher temperatures...although I've seen lower temps as well.

Oh, and don't assume the cookie recipe will work as well.

Thanks! Just FYI, I wasn't planning to make the cookies; I was just mentioning that aside from one cookie recipe, I almost never bake anything "baked good"-y. I guess I do occasionally do scones ... But the soufflé is what's really giving me pause. The idea of raising the temp on a soufflé just strikes me as anathema, so if you can find notes saying to lower the temp instead, that would make more sense to me. And I'm all for beating the eggs less; I read that somewhere too, but it wasn't about a soufflé and another site encouraged extra volume, so ... *hrmph*.

The gougeres should be achievable. A place like Colt & Gray has them on their snack menu, though theirs might be more of a fried choux ball... I'll check my cookbooks to see if they have them (though I might have to look for "cheesy puffs" or the like).

My guess is the gougères may in fact may be more forgiving ... but I'd like to hear feedback before I try anything for guests, that's for sure! B)

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