(303) 771-3850
Madison & Company logo

Back To Blog

High Altitude Baking

Even under ideal conditions, baking can be a bit of a dance – reliant on the proper amount of ingredients, the right kind of interaction among them and a specific set of conditions, whether that’s in your oven or the weather outside. Throw high altitude into the mix, and it’s a whole new set of challenges.
The Science
According to the Colorado State University Extension, the lower pressure at high altitudes has two major effects that can wreak havoc on baked goods. One, liquids evaporate faster and boil at a lower temperature. Two, the gases produced by leaveners (yeast, baking soda, baking powder) expand faster. Air at higher altitudes tends to be drier as well, so problems can begin even before you start cooking. Moreover, CSU says, “food tends to taste blander at higher elevations.”
"When you get here to Denver, you have to change things from the way your grandmother did them on the East Coast because of the altitude. It’s harder to breathe here because there’s less oxygen available to you, and people from the East Coast come here and struggle. The pastries come here and struggle, as well, so you have to modify them." said Marcia Kramer, who teaches at Johnson and Wales University's Denver campus.
General Advice
  • You can expect baking time & temperature to remain about the same.
  • The way your bread rises is mostly affected by the temperature of where you leave it to rest. Always use a warm spot around 85-95° F. Check with a thermometer. Not too much above 138°, or the yeast will die.
  • Not all recipes need to be adjusted at a higher elevation, only ones with a leavener, an ingredient that helps the baked good rise, like baking powder or baking soda.
  • Colorado's climate is dry, so you'll need to increase liquids and eggs by 10 to 15 percent. That could mean substituting large eggs for extra-large eggs. For each cup of liquid the recipe calls for, add 1-2 tablespoons of more liquid. Water is always a safe bet, as it will not affect flavor.
  • Increase flour by 4 percent (another 1-2 tablespoons per cup in the recipe).
  • Decrease sugar by 6 percent (1-2 tablespoons per cup in the recipe).
  • Decrease chemical leavener, the baking soda or baking powder, by about half. This one is the most important, as it is what causes the reaction in the oven.
Elevation Recommendations:
3,500 to 6,500 feet: Reduce sugar up to 1 tablespoon, increase liquid 1 to 2 tablespoons, reduce baking powder/soda 1/8 teaspoon.
6,500 to 8,500 feet: Reduce sugar up to 2 tablespoons, increase liquid 2 to 4 tablespoons, reduce baking powder/soda 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon.
8,500 to 10,000 feet: Reduce sugar 1 to 3 tablespoons, increase liquid 3 to 4 tablespoons, reduce baking powder/soda 1/4 teaspoon.
Paying attention to visual cues in recipes is especially important. Are the cookies golden? Does the cake spring back to the touch? Did a tester come out of the muffin clean? Trust what you see, as well as your instincts, and soon you’ll be living – and baking – the high-altitude life. You might as well enjoy the view, too!
Sources - denverpost.com & 9news.com

ActivePipe Message ID: 1047986

    Add Comment

    Comments are moderated. Please be patient if your comment does not appear immediately. Thank you.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


    1. No comments. Be the first to comment.