I was the extremely happy receiver of a lot of gluten-free flour the other day, brought to me by lovely neighbor Kim. Now my brain has been doing overtime to try to decide what I was going to bake first. My only experience so far at this altitude failed miserably, so I went on the hunt for some help, trying to understand how to adjust my recipes for baking in the Andes. I found a few sites and figured you might want to know about them as well. And please, if you have any proven methods, share them with us by emailing them to http://www.CuencaGlutenFree@gmail.com. I promise I will report back on how I progressed!
Gluten-Free Baking at High Altitudes
Baking is tricky enough, but baking gluten-free products adds another layer of complexity. Now what happens if you live at a high altitude? Higher altitudes are problematic for baked goods because air pressure decreases as the altitude increases. These effects become noticeable at 2,000 feet above sea level.
What does this mean for your baking?
- Lower air pressure has a profound effect on baked goods. Gases expand much more quickly, so quick breads and yeast breads overexpand and then collapse in the oven.
- Higher altitudes drop the boiling point of water. In fact, the boiling point of water drops one degree for every 500 feet in altitude increase. Water boils faster the higher you go. When the boiling point of water changes, there are profound changes in the oven. Water leaves baked goods more easily, which weakens the structure and leaves a coarse texture.
- Air is drier at higher altitudes. You may need more liquid than in recipes that are developed at lower altitudes. Faster evaporation also affects how food bakes and can be a factor in faster staling.
Unfortunately, no single overriding principle creates success in every single baked good made at high altitudes. Until you’re more experienced baking at high altitudes, rely on recipes specifically developed for those conditions.
Here are some general rules to follow to help you achieve more success at higher altitudes:
- Decrease baking powder. Omit 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder for each 3,000 feet of altitude so cookies, cakes, pies, and quick breads don’t rise too much.
- Decrease yeast. Reduce the amount of yeast called for in bread products. Because doing so reduces the bread’s flavor, let the dough rise twice.
- Reduce rising times. Lower air pressure means that doughs rise faster than in recipes developed at sea level.
- Reduce sugar. Remove 1 tablespoon of sugar per cup for each 3,000 feet of altitude. Because more evaporation occurs at higher temperatures, sugar concentrates in the product. This changes the flavor and can also weaken the structure.
- Add more flour. More flour provides more structure to the baked good. Flour absorbs more liquid at high altitudes and can become damp; store it in airtight containers.
- Decrease baking time. Baked goods are usually done sooner at high altitudes. Check the food’s progress a few minutes before the minimum baking time.
- Increase oven temperature. You want to get the structure of the baked good to set and firm quickly before gasses inside the product can expand too much.
With practice and experience, trial and error, you’ll become more proficient at high-altitude baking. The best information usually comes from a county extension agency in your area. They have lots of information about how to successfully bake at high altitudes, along with many tested recipes.
The tips below are from :
High Altitude Gluten-Free Baking Tips
Those of us unaccustomed to high altitudes often experience shortness of breath, headaches and quick sunburns when we visit higher locations. The air is thinner and the pressure is lower at 5,000 feet above sea level and beyond, but people aren’t the only things affected.
The same conditions that create these physical problems for living creatures can also affect baking, but not always.
I get lots of questions from folks asking how to adjust gluten-free recipes for high altitude and my first answer is that you might not have to make an adjustment at all.
First let’s look at what happens when there is low atmospheric pressure, low humidity and thinner air. The first things you’ll notice in the kitchen are a lower boiling point, more rapid rising and drier baked goods from the reduced humidity.
Where this requires a change in gluten-free baked goods is primarily in the leavening. Breads rise faster, leading to potential cave-ins because the cell structure isn’t set well enough to hold the bread’s shape. Other leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda will also cause the gases in breads and cakes to expand/rise faster. (I read once that 1 teaspoon of baking powder at 5,000 feet yields 20% more volume than at sea level!)
So my recommendation is to try the recipe without adjustment first. Keep good notes so that you remember any problems that developed with each recipe, and what solutions you devised that worked. If you encounter problems, reference these tips to help.
♦If your bread or cakes rise too fast and then collapse:
- Adjust the leavening agents: reduce baking powder by 1/4 teaspoon for each teaspoon called for in the recipe if you are baking above 6,000 feet. If you are baking at 8,000 feet or higher, reduce by 1/2 teaspoon for each teaspoon in the recipe.
- Reduce the rise time of yeast breads. Do not let the dough rise higher than the side of the pan. Check frequently to ensure bread is not rising more than double its size before baking.
- Do not fill muffins or cake pans more than 1/2 full.
- Do not omit salt in yeast bread recipes because salt will help to contain the rise.
- Try increasing the baking temperature by 25 degrees to help heat then set the cell structure faster so that it is better supported after cooling.
- Use extra large eggs instead of large eggs (eggs contain protein which helps to provide structure)
- Do not overbeat eggs, as this will enhance the rising of batters, which is not advised at high altitudes.
♦If the recipe results in baked goods that are drier and more crumbly than they ought to be:
- Increase liquid by approximately 2 tablespoons if baking at 6,000 feet; 3-5 tablespoons if baking at 7,000 feet or higher.
- OR decrease gluten-free flour by 1 tablespoon per cup of flour.
- Try substituting shortening for butter – it holds more liquid. (I use Earth Balance® Shortening Sticks)
♦ If your cookies flatten:
- Reduce the shortening or butter by 1-2 tablespoons.
- Substitute shortening for butter.
- Add 1/8 cup more gluten-free flour per each cup of flour in the recipe.
- Reduce the amount of additions like chocolate chips.
- Add powdered milk or non-dairy powdered milk (not reconstituted)
♦If your pie crusts or pastries are dry or tough:
- Reduce gluten-free flour or use less flour to dust with and handle the crust as little as possible.
- Ensure your fats and liquids are cold when mixing.
- Increase liquid by up to 25% (I add 2-3 tablespoons of vodka to the liquids in my pie crusts with great success!)
Hope you will find this useful, let us know how things are working for you!