Thanks for the lessons, Tahoe

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This is my final weekend in Tahoe. I am moving back to Seattle this week, and I am so excited about that. I was thinking about what my final post at high altitude should be, and I’ve decided to talk about what I’ve learned. Here are the top five changes I consider when trying to make a recipe work at high altitude:

Reduce the leaveners. Cutting the baking soda or baking powder by about a half teaspoon is one of the most important changes I’ve learned to make. Leaving the full amount in for breads and cakes has caused so many baked goods to rise and fall. By reducing the amount you use, you’ll be giving your recipes a better chance at success.

Add more flour. After having sheets of cookies spread out and end up like one giant cookie instead of a dozen, I learned that the cookies needed more flour to balance the butter. Reducing the baking soda and adding flour helped tremendously.

Add more liquid. Recipes tend to require more liquid at high altitude because things dry out more quickly. For example, the French Onion Soup I made could have used some additional liquid so it was more soupy. Make sure that you use more of a liquid that is already required by the recipe. If it calls for chicken stock, add more chicken stock instead of water. Water will only cut the flavor of anything you add it to.

Use more extract and salt. If a recipe requires extract, use about one-half teaspoon more. If a recipe calls for one-half teaspoon salt, double it. The flavors need a bit more help to shine through at high altitude.

Grease your pans and liners. The first few times I made breads or muffins at high altitude, I couldn’t get them out of the pans and muffin liners. Things really stick at high altitude, so be sure to grease and flour your pans and spray your liners with some kind of cooking spray. Muffins are much more enjoyable when they come out of the wrapper, and breads are much more appealing when they don’t have to be pried out of a bread pan in chunks.

While I’m thankful for the education, I’m also relieved to not have to worry about making changes to every recipe anymore. For those of you who have struggled with baking at high altitude, I hope this helps. I’ll be taking the next two weeks off while I get situated, so look for my next post on March 30.

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