Rocky Mountain High Altitude Baking

in kitchen without thought bubbleour new home

Well, we did it..we sold our home in California, moved to Colorado and bought a house! Whew!!! It’s been quite a ride over the last few months, but I am glad to finally be settling in on our new life.

My blog has been woefully neglected, my last post was in February! Yikes..has it really been that long? Sadly, yes… but I am determined to correct that mistake! My overall goal remains the same: go through Martha Stewart’s cupcake book and try every single cupcake and blog about it. Since moving here, I have decided to tweak this a wee bit. Before I can adequately attempt Martha’s cupcakes, I have to become competent at baking at 5,000+ feet! Believe me folks, it makes quite a difference! It’s all about air pressure. Basically, lower air pressure at high elevations causes air bubbles trapped in the batter to rise at a faster rate. When this happens, cakes rise very fast and high…then fall. As a result, you end up with a dense, dry cake. Visualize this: Think of air pressure as your hand pushing down on something; if air pressure is less (i.e., you are not pushing as hard) then whatever you are pushing on can rise up easier. That is about as scientific as I get.

downtown Niwot

With this in mind (and also since I need to start prepping for my cousin Cindy’s wedding), I started my experimentation on Saturday. I have been reading and researching for awhile now, so I felt reasonably confident that I was ready to begin.

start baking

I decided to use a recipe for dark chocolate cupcakes that I have been making for a long time. Whenever I made this (at sea level), it was one of my most requested cupcakes. So here goes:  First, I adjusted the dry ingredients:  more flour, less sugar and baking soda. Next, I added more liquid (coffee) and combined that with chopped bittersweet chocolate and Dutch process cocoa. choc mixture modifed coffeemodified dry ingred.

add egg, oil etcAfter the chocolate is melted and cooled, add eggs, oil, vanilla extract and vinegar.

add flourFinally, add the dry ingredients and mix well.

batter ready for liners

In some of the research I did, it was suggested that a higher baking temperature is needed when baking at high altitude. The reasoning behind this is that since the batter will rise faster, a higher temperature will “set” the batter and maintain the structure of the item being baked. I did not adjust the temperature this time; I wanted to see how the cupcakes turned out with just the ingredient modifications.

I modified the recipe twice: The first time I used the minimum modifications, the second time the maximum. Here are both batches out of the oven and then split open and compared:

after baking           compare cut cupcakes

The cupcake on the left has the minimum adjustments, the right maximum adjustments. I like the nice dome shape on the right cupcake, but it seemed too dense. The left cupcake was moister, but too crumbly for my taste. All in all, they were okay and a far cry from the hockey pucks that resulted from no adjustments.

Keeping in mind my cousin’s wedding, I made a raspberry filling and raspberry Italian meringue buttercream.

cooking fillingfinal filling








Here are the final cupcakes:final - better

I tried these out on my complaints. The only suggestion was from my grandson Alex; he thought that the frosting was not “raspberry” enough. I agree. I think next time I will use the maximum ingredient adjustments (love that “dome”) but raise the oven temperature and reduce the baking time 5 minutes or so. Also, these cupcakes just scream for a Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting rather than a buttercream. I believe that the cream cheese will intensify the raspberry flavor.
It will be interesting!

Meanwhile, here are a few pictures from our new life in Colorado, not necessarily cupcake-related but fun to look at…

me and NayeliOne of my beautiful granddaughters; a cupcake princess in-training!

we're home

I am so happy to be back to baking and my blog. So far life in Colorado has been amazing, I can’t wait to see what’s next in my adventure!

Stay tuned,

Sweet Joan



2 thoughts on “Rocky Mountain High Altitude Baking

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