I grew up baking, and reading cookbooks, and talking about food constantly.

My sweet and patient mother taught me a lot of what I know- baking from the heart and always from scratch. After college, I went to The French Pastry School in Chicago, to learn even more. I spent several intensive months training under French pastry masters. And I loved every second of it.

In 2009, I moved out to Colorado for what I thought would be one winter season. Isn’t that how it always goes?

Nonetheless, I am still out here, working on various pastry endeavors, and playing in the kitchen both on and off the clock.

My work has been featured in Saveur magazine and I’ve made appearances for Mutual of Omaha and Good Morning Vail.

Good Morning Vail

Mutual of Omaha “Aha Moment”

I live with my adoring sidekick, Benny; aka Catboy. He loves arugula and absolutely hates magpies.

Living in the mountains is such a unique privilege. Words cannot describe the beauty of lush blue-sky summer day, the awe of a moose nibbling in your backyard, or the drive to work on an early winter morning, when the sun hasn’t melted off the snow still clinging to every tree branch.

It is possible to bake good food at altitude. I do it for a living. And I want to help others who can’t imagine life without baking but don’t know where to start.

Welcome to High Altitude Bakes.

Photo credit: Dominique Taylor

Leave a Comment

73 comments… add one
  • Michelle at Hummingbird on High 14 Mar, 2012

    I’m loving your blog so far! Can’t wait to try some of your recipes this weekend. Do you have any recipes for savory breads or French macarons? I cannot, for the life of me, recreate them at high-altitude!

    Reply
  • Jen Munn 14 Jul, 2012

    I’m so excited to find you! I live in Blue River, love to bake, and have been looking for some guidance up here at the “top of the world.” I’m looking forward to trying your recipes. Thank you for sharing!!
    Smiles,
    Jen

    Reply
    • Megan 27 Aug, 2012

      And I’m so excited you found High Altitude Bakes! Conquering mountain baking and restoring confidence one kitchen at a time πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • Ruth 5 Aug, 2012

    Thought I’d let you know I tried to confirm as requested by your auto response, but it is not working. It says “address can’t be found” when I try on AOL.

    Reply
  • Sue 9 Aug, 2012

    I found your blog via Mountain Mama Cooks. I’m so glad, too. I live at 9200 ft in CO and I’m happy that I can find some recipes (and experience) cooking at these altitudes. I’ve picked up quite a few from friends and neighbors who’ve lived here longer than I have and I’ve managed to adjust SOME of my recipes; it’s just that I hate to waste the ingredients (an money) with failed attempts.

    Anyways, thank you!

    Reply
  • Elli 14 Sep, 2012

    Hi there! So happy to find this website. I’m up in Vail and stumbled across it as I’ve been tasked with making 100 whoopie pies for a friends wedding! So far so good – can’t wait to try more recipes …. E

    Reply
  • Leslie Logan 26 Sep, 2012

    I stumbled upon your blog site.. i think as I was looking around on FB!:) It is soo neat to actually understand your passions and desires even when you and I shared a year in Richard Hall at Miami University! I always knew that you had something special going.. soo friendly and down-to-earth!:) I will be trying your pumpkin crumble muffins. I made some today with olive oil-no butter. They are sticky and kind of dense. I like the light and fluffy appearance of yours! Anyway- Soo excited about your site! Hope all is well! ~ Leslie

    Reply
  • Jen Munn 30 Sep, 2012

    Happy fall! I have the urge to bake a classic pumpkin cake roll this season. Any words of advice on how to make a standard recipe come out beautifully? Fingers crossed…… πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Megan 30 Sep, 2012

      Hi Jen! If your recipe uses only eggs as the leavener- no baking soda or baking powder- it should come out fine. If it uses chemical leaveners as well, start by reducing them. Depending on your altitude, you may find you don’t need them at all since the eggs in sponge cakes provide a good ‘lift’. If you notice the texture seems a bit off, reduce the amount of sugar next time. Let me know how it turns out, I have a recipe for pumpkin cake rolls that I made up here two years ago and they came out fine. Happy fall and happy baking!

      Reply
      • Jen Munn 1 Oct, 2012

        Ok. Awesome! Thank you so much, Megan. I’ll let ya know how it goes. Love baking this time of year!

        Reply
  • Kristi 12 Nov, 2012

    Thank you for blogging your victories. I’m new to high altitudes, although I’ve baked and done food my whole life. Growing up in the back of my parents’ restaurant ensured that. The challenges associated with higher elevations is an exciting challenge here in Durango, but it’s nice to have a guide! Thanks again.

    Reply
  • Mary 20 Dec, 2012

    Hi Megan! I wanted to purchase your holiday cookbook but I am unable to register. Not sure if it is because your site does not support iPad or the site is down.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 21 Dec, 2012

      Hi Mary, our initial testing shows there shouldn’t be an issue with purchasing the cookbook from an iPad. Please try again and let me know if you run into that problem again. Thank you for your support! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • Lindsey 21 Dec, 2012

    Hi Megan!
    I moved to Vail recently and am hosting (for the first time ever) Christmas for over 10 family members traveling from the midwest. I love Raincoast Crisps http://lesleystowe.com/raincoastcrisps/about/ and can’t imagine a get together without them, but they are so expensive and have been searching for hours on a homemade recipe. I found one http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/2010/11/pseudo-raincoast-crisps-and-oregon.html, got excited and then realized I wouldn’t be able to make it here in high altitude (I don’t cook or bake at all (which is going to make Christmas dinner very challenging!) hence the very delayed thought process about not being able to make a bread-product in Vail) :/ Obviously this gives you very little time for Christmas, but maybe for sometime in the future could you tell me how to adapt this recipe?
    Thank you!!!

    Reply
  • Caroline 3 Jan, 2013

    Hi Megan! I am a baker in Boulder and an avid reader of your blog. I am currently trying to figure what steps to take next in my career and would love advice from someone like you if you have the time. my email is pattercs4@gmail.com hope to hear from you!

    Reply
  • Lauren 20 Jan, 2013

    Megan-I used to live in Eagle (close to Vail) and now live in Ridgway, Co at 8,000ft…For the life of me, I cannot get a good cupcake to turn out here! I know they’re not going to be beautiful and rounded. Do you have any surefire tips for making perfect cupcakes from scratch at high-altitude? I’d LOVE to hear them…high altitude tips for cupcakes are really not that easy to come by.

    Thanks!!!! =)

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 24 Jan, 2013

      Hi Lauren. I think that good recipes to start with are ones that call for baking powder only…reduce that amount a little and they usually have better results than baking soda-based recipes, especially for something like a cupcake where you want a puffed dome on top. I find that baking soda is a bit trickier to adjust…and requires more patience! You can also check out my Sparkling White Cupcakes recipe for a basic white cupcake batter that can easily be tweaked to create different flavors.

      Reply
  • Lauren 23 May, 2013

    Megan-thank you so much for your response! I’m sure you get a gazillion comments/emails. Thank you for taking the time to answer mine =) I’m experimenting with recipes today! So far, one a little too fluffy, one total fail…starting on batch three! (I’m creating a recipe from scratch). Crossing my fingers!

    Reply
  • Leigh Zwigart 29 May, 2013

    I’m so glad to have found you. Been searching for a whoopie pie recipe – among other yummy things – that works here in Denver, CO. Next on my list is a chocolate pound cake. Any suggestions? I find the recipes I have are too dry.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 30 May, 2013

      Hi Leigh- whoopie pies have been on my blog to-do list. I will try to get those in the works. I can’t think of any good chocolate pound cake recipes off the top of my head but I’ll do some searching. I honestly can’t say I’ve found a good recipe that isn’t too dry either. If you’re looking for a great chocolate cake recipe in the meantime, try the Chocolate Stout Cake. It’s tastes like a delicious cross of chocolate cake and chocolate pound cake- a very dense, moist cake. For your altitude in Denver I would increase the baking soda by 1/4 teaspoon. Marble Bundt Cake is also a good one. I suggest increasing the baking soda by 1/8 teaspoon and baking powder by 1/4 teaspoon for your altitude.

      Reply
  • Courtney 29 May, 2013

    My boyfriend is lactose intolerant and I’m recently learning how to bake with butter substitutes, (coconut oil, earth balance are what I’m using.) I am heartbroken because I can’t seem to get my pie crusts to be flaky and delicious like with butter. If you could help be I’d appreciate it. Ohh…and I love your blog! It helped me finally start baking again at high altitude. I was getting so sick of cupcakes with caves and dead brownies. I’m even teaching my boyfriend how to bake! now THAT is fun!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 30 May, 2013

      Hi Courtney- I did a little research and nearly every dairy-free pie crust recipe I could find called for coconut oil. The only factors I can think of that would improve the flakiness of a coconut oil-based pie crust are that the dough is 1) mixed until crumbly and just sticks together (versus a blended dough [like cookie dough] that will have a shorter texture) or 2) try chilling the coconut oil before you mix it into the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender to cut the coconut oil in like you would with cold butter, until crumbly. Another thought is a pie crust made with shortening. Unfortunately there isn’t a substitute for the flavor of butter in pastries, but maybe your pie fillings can make up for that. I’m pleased to hear you are finding HAB helpful! Keep up the great baking!

      Reply
  • Kristin 19 Jul, 2013

    Hello!!! I was wondering if you have any tips on baking cinnamon rolls at high altitude – Denver, baby! I see a lot of negative reviews online from high-alt bakers who tried regular recipes without success, and now I’m scared to try one. I’d love a great cinnamon roll recipe for an upcoming get-together (brunch with friends).

    Thank you for writing this amazing blog! It has become my go-to resource after multiple failed attempts at baking since I moved to Denver (that includes cupcakes, chocolate cake, banana bread, you name it.) Thank goodness I found you! Keep it up!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 20 Jul, 2013

      Hi Kristin- Try the Sweet Almond Orange Buns recipe if you have a chance. They require no rise and come out tender, sweet, and flaky. Omit the almonds in the filling and substitute light brown sugar for the muscavado sugar. Also, substitute milk for the orange juice and don’t add the orange zest in the glaze. The biggest thing to remember when baking yeasted breads at altitude is they rise much faster- about half the time. Baking time can also vary- it can be much less or much more, depending on what you’re making. Keep an eye out for puffed dough that’s doubled in size (even if its only been 20-30 minutes!), and bake til the tops of the rolls are a nice golden brown. I also have a more traditional cinnamon roll recipe in my High Altitude Bakes Holiday Cookbook.

      Reply
      • Kristin 20 Jul, 2013

        Amazing – thank you so much (and for answering so quickly!) I’m going to try them tomorrow morning!

        Reply
  • Katie 16 Aug, 2013

    Hi Megan!
    I currently live in Buena Vista and have have fallen in love with all your recipes and cakes! I found you in the alumni section of the French Pastry School and needed to know more. I am currently applying for the school and look to start my own pastry shop in my little mountain town. I would love to get together some time or chat over email, I have so many questions I would love to pick your brain with!

    Reply
  • melody 25 Aug, 2013

    Loved finding your blot. When I first moved to Colorado it killed me that I couldn’t. Even hard boil eggs anymore! 20 years has made a difference but its always good to find recipes already made tor our unique needs. Thanks

    Reply
  • Anita 5 Sep, 2013

    I love your blog. I was looking for a recipe for an altitude adjusted recipe for a strawberry cake with strawberry flavors in the cake itself vs. a strawberry shortcake or a white cake with strawberry and whipped cream filling. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 7 Sep, 2013

      Hi Anita, I would suggest folding a little bit of strawberry jam or puree into your cake batter. Reduce the liquids just a touch if you add a decent quantity. That way you will get a rosy pink cake with some pieces of strawberry and the flavor as well.

      Reply
  • Amanda 22 Sep, 2013

    Your blog is fantastic! I just started perusing. We recently moved to the Vail area and I am trying to get a handle on high altitude baking/cooking!

    Reply
  • Kathleen Biegenwald 8 Nov, 2013

    Hi Megan,
    I grew up baking all my life in the south, I settled in Utah after serving in the military for 20 yrs, having found my Soul Mate and the Love of my life here. He served 24 yrs and we fell in Love in this beautiful state!! Unfortunately my baking skills were null and void at even 4564 ft!!! My PASSION as a self proclaimed Baker/Chefs. We barely go out to eat, as we critic the food and find doing it ourselve isa Wonderful Experience Daycation, Together as we still serve the military as civilians. Your Blog is absolutely what I needed eto Spark My Baking PASSION as we Love Baked goods. I tried 6 times to register as a member and recieve members only error. Please help me with this as I belive your link has the incorrect script. I work IT on base…might have your techs check out the link πŸ˜‰ cuz I want to be able to Perfect my recipes, with your Awesome Bakers Knowledge! !

    Thanks for Your Blog!!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 8 Nov, 2013

      Hi Kathleen- I’m sorry you were having problems. We have received your request to receive e-mail and blog updates. The register as a member section is for those who have purchased a cookbook. It’s a downloadable e-book and the way to access it is by signing in with the member name and password users create when they purchase a cookbook. All other sections of High Altitude Bakes are free and available to everyone. Happy Baking!

      Reply
  • Chris M 29 Dec, 2013

    I live at 8200 ft. I want to make your vanilla scones. Are any adjustments needed. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 31 Dec, 2013

      Hi Chris, the recipe as is will likely work just fine. If you don’t get as much rise out of them as you’d like, next time increase the baking powder an 1/8 teaspoon since your elevation is slightly lower.

      Reply
  • Febe 25 Mar, 2014

    Chef Megan, let me tell you, your Olive Oil Chocolate Cake was a hit ! everyone had more than one slice and wooww was gone in not time; this Saturday I am making the Stout Beer Cake for a friend, I can’t wait to try that. I want to ask you if you can share a recipe for red velvet cake and something that I love but I have not been able to make, crΓ¨me Brule. Thank you so much, happy baking !!!

    Reply
  • Christie Hanses 17 Jul, 2014

    Living in the Colorado mountains as a part-timer, during the summer and part of the winter,
    coupled with an unquestionable sweet tooth, I happened on your blog while looking for a high
    altitude cornbread recipe. At last . . . wonderful, delectable desserts I can bake for family and
    friends! As a Midwesterner, high altitude baking has been daunting, but here is this wonderful blog,
    in which you generously share your recipes and successes. I have accumulated a number of high
    altitude cookbooks, but I now feel after discovering your blog, as though someone is holding
    my hand in the kitchen, guiding me through the apprehension and uncertainty. It was obvious
    I needed to subscribe and I can’t wait to begin baking! Thank you for your kindness in sharing your
    knowledge and your recipes . . . I will read them with interest even when I have returned to Illinois.

    Reply
  • Melinda 27 Aug, 2014

    I’m desperate for a recipe to make a pumpkin cake roll with cream cheese filling. I moved to Castle Rock, Colorado in November of last year and haven’t baked a lot since. Baking at high altitude is intimidating. I’ve made a couple of cakes (1 turned out great 1 was a little dry). I’ve enjoyed baking and lived a sea level all of my adult life. Struggling to enjoy baking at high altitude. Do you have a cookbook with a recipe for the pumpkin cake roll that I could purchase?

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 30 Aug, 2014

      Hi Melinda, I’ve received a lot of requests for a pumpkin cake roll, so that is something I am going to try and work on posting in the next few weeks. Check back, and happy baking to you!

      Reply
  • Lori 28 Aug, 2014

    Chef Megan,

    So good to see someone in Colorado who already has the high altitude thing figured out. I am a CO native, but have yet to master cooking and baking. I watch every food show imaginable, but when I follow recipes or try to be “creative”, everything falls apart…literally. I can’t wait to make your pineapple upside down cake tonight for a Labor Day BBQ. Thanks for your work and passion.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 30 Aug, 2014

      Hi Lori, no problem! I hope you have great success with your pineapple upside down cake this weekend. Happy baking!

      Reply
  • Lise Marie 4 Sep, 2014

    Love your site. Moved to Colorado a year ago and have been looking for some great high-altitude recipes. Do you have any peach cobbler or any yummy peach recipes. I want to take advantage of the delicious peaches that are just about to go out of season. Thanks! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • Mandy 28 Oct, 2014

    omg finally! I cant believe it took me this long to find you. After moving to Prescott AZ (5500) from Seattle (0) I had some serious issues with my baking. My mom recently bought me a cookbook, I think its called Pie in the Sky, which really helped and I try to use the basic principles with other recipes but, as you know, baking is more of a science then a wing it operation. So happy to find a blog, and pinterest I can use to find yummy things for higher elevation! Just curious, what’s your elevation? the cookbook I have has recipes listed at sealevel, 3000ft, 5000, 7000 and 9000 – Ive learned so much already just starting at the charts in it!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 29 Oct, 2014

      Hi Mandy! My elevation is about 8,200 feet. For your altitude, I suggest using 1/4th less of chemical leaveners called for in regular, sea level recipes. That may be a good starting point and then tweak from there. Happy baking!

      Reply
  • Cortney 4 Feb, 2015

    Thank you for your recipes. I just moved back to Colorado after 20 years at (or below) sea level. The only difference is, I never cooked or baked when I lived here before (during college)–so all my homemade goodies need tweaking. Thanks! Please post any clean recipes too!

    Reply
  • Candace 24 Feb, 2015

    So glad for your website and good advice. I’m in Santa Fe and am determined to learn high altitude baking really well. Going to try the berry scones tomorrow morning.
    Have a great day!
    Candace

    Reply
    • Shannon 13 Mar, 2015

      I, too, am glad to find you! I am at 9000′. Today I will bake your Irish Soda Bread.
      Will it freeze well? as I won’t be serving it until St Pat’s day – in 4 days.

      Reply
      • Chef Megan Joy 18 Mar, 2015

        Hi Shannon, sorry for the delay! We have just moved and I was without Internet service. Breads freeze well, though I recommend freezing them as soon as they cool down after baking, for optimum freshness. Home-baked breads dry out naturally, without preservatives and additives, so the less time it sits out before freezing the better!

        Reply
  • Amelia Thompson 14 May, 2015

    Hello, Megan! I am yet another who is SO glad that she found you. I’ve been living at 7,500 ft for three years now. I’ve baked cakes, cookies, and quick breads with adjustments and rarely had a problem (except for my very first loaf of banana bread – doughy at the bottom and burnt to a crisp in the top!), but I have avoided baking bread! Scared mostly. I made your hiney wheat bread, and it came out perfect in the crust and around the edges, but the middle was doughy. The kind that looks baked but when you touch it it seems to turn back into a dough- like consistency. I followed all of the directions exactly EXCEPT that I used coconut oil as I did not have any of the other three you suggested. Did I miss something? My son and my husband are looking forward to me making bread on a regular basis, so they will also appreciate your advice!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 22 May, 2015

      Hi Amelia! Sounds like the bread just needed to be baked a touch longer. Did you cut into it while still very warm? Doing that also gives bread that doughy look, which could also be the reason.

      Reply
  • Jean 4 Dec, 2015

    So much good information! I have a chocolate holiday jelly roll type recipe that I would like to try. It doesn’t use any flour, only eggs and unsweetened cocoa, sugar and vanilla. Do I need to make any adjustments? I have read not to over beat the egg whites. Thank you

    Reply
  • rachel 11 Feb, 2016

    Hi Megan,

    I’m so excited to find your page. We moved to Denver over a year ago and I’ve really struggled with baking. So excited to try out some of your recipes! Take care!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 29 Feb, 2016

      Hi Rachel, welcome to high altitude living! Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

      Reply
  • Cindy 31 Mar, 2016

    Hi,

    Just wanted to say thank you for sharing what you know about baking at high altitudes!

    I’m just learning to bake with almond and coconut flour ~

    Cheers,
    Cindy

    Reply
  • Leigh Ann 25 Sep, 2016

    I’m so grateful to have found your website. I’ve always loved to bake and just relocated to CO a week ago. Today I tried a Battenberg cake that turned out quite nice (except I need to work on my marzipan distribution) but the macarons were a disaster. I’ve always wanted to be professional trained in baking but will work using your website for the time being. Thank you so much for sharing all this wonderful information with us. I’m really looking forward to trying more of your recipes. If you’re in Vail and I’m in Castle Rock, will your equations work down here? You’re quite higher than I am. Thank you for the feedback.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 25 Sep, 2016

      Hi Leigh Ann, I’m actually about 6,800 feet where I live now. So for most of my recent recipes, you’ll only need to add a touch more of baking soda and/or baking powder to your recipes. Happy baking!

      Reply
  • Shar 15 Oct, 2016

    Hi Megan, I just wanted to say a big thank you for this blog. I am a native Texan stationed at Ft Carson and had pretty much written off my love of baking after living in Colorado for 3 years. I cannot tell you how much of my efforts from beloved recipe have simply gone in the trash. I am a huge Rebecca Rather fan, Fredricksburg, Tx is just outside of my hometown and seeing her recipes on here put a second smile on my face. I think I pretty much pinned everything you have here and I can’t wait to give your recipes a try. Many thanks again! Shar

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 23 Oct, 2016

      Hi Shar! I am so happy to hear that. Rebecca’s recipes are some of the best! Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any baking questions, and thank you for your service.

      Reply
  • Becca 4 Dec, 2016

    Hi Meagan! I live in Denver and was going to try your sugar cookie recipe today for a “Christmas Cookie Exchange”. I lived in Vail years ago and had a very difficult time baking! In Denver I am often challenged as well. My question is this. Do your recipes work for our Denver Altitude as well? Or are they created specifically for the mountain resort altitudes? Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 5 Dec, 2016

      Hi Becca, my recipes were formulated for high altitudes but will also work at lower altitudes. You will want to adjust your chemical leaveners (baking soda and baking powder) if called for in a recipe. The lower you go the more you use, while the higher you go the less. This recipe below is a great one because it doesn’t have any of those in it- making it very easy for mountain baking! Your baking time may vary slightly. Enjoy! https://highaltitudebakes.com/cookies/2014/12/04/christmas-sugar-cut-out-cookies/

      Reply
  • Kimberly Luzeckyj 7 Dec, 2016

    I love all of your recipes and purchased the 2013 cookie cookbook! I am in the midst of making several cookie batters and am wondering if they are freezable and if so what is the best way to do that? I am thinking of getting all of the batters made and frozen and then bake them all next week.

    Thanks!

    Kim

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 7 Dec, 2016

      Hi Kimberly, so happy to hear that! All of the cookie batters in the 2013 Cookie Cookbook can indeed be frozen, and it’s a great way to divide up the labor of holiday cooking baking as well! I recommend wrapping the dough tightly with plastic wrap. It can be helpful to wrap it loosely in plastic wrap first, then push the dough down and roll it out slightly with a rolling pin so it fills the extra space and is in one even, thinner layer. This will allow it to thaw more quickly. The night before you plan to bake, remove the dough from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator.

      Reply
  • Jess 25 Mar, 2017

    Hi, love your blog, need your help please, I am moving to Frisco Colorado in September and am wanting to make my boyfriend’s South African favourite “souskluitjies”. It is a dumpling, any tips on how to get it right 10000ft above sea level?

    Reply
  • Chef Megan Joy 29 Feb, 2016

    Thanks Kelley!

    Reply

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