Welcome high altitude bakers and enthusiasts!

As a pastry chef, I have experienced firsthand the challenges and struggles of baking at high altitude. It can be very discouraging. Baking is too enjoyable of an activity to be limited from those living above sea level.

I wanted to create a place where I can offer my professional guidance, share my stories, and unite other mountain dwellers. Let’s relish in our beautiful surroundings and indulge in successful baking!

Where I work and live, the elevation is about 8,200 feet. So my recipes will always be formulated for this altitude. Elevations below and above will have to use my recipes as a guideline, and adjust them a bit further. If you keep reading below, I’ve offered some helpful hints and direction as to how to adjust recipes for your altitude.

Adjusting for Altitude Guidelines

Here are the heavy-weights when it comes to adjusting:

Chemical Leaveners. These would be baking soda and baking powder. When added to your batter, they create little air bubbles as they bake. The air bubbles are what cause your cake or baked good to rise, and help to determine the texture (light/dense).  The air pressure at altitude can cause them to bubble and expand rapidly, which causes the baked good to rise too quickly. When this happens, the underlying batter hasn’t baked enough to create a strong structure that can support the rising cake. So consequently, the cake collapses in the middle. Sometimes you will also see a product that bakes over and out of the pan.

If you live below 8,000 feet, slightly increase the chemical leaveners called for in my recipes. If you live above 8,500 feet, slightly decrease the chemical leaveners called for in my recipes. I recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon increase or decrease at a time.

 

Eggs. Trust me, eggs are a high alitude baker’s friend.  I find that adding an extra egg or yolk to a batter or dough can be a rewarding addition, especially if you are worried about your product being too dry. When making a batter that involves folding in whipped egg whites, always underwhip them slightly. This once again has to do with air pressure, you do not want them to make your product rise too much, risking the chances of a collapse. If a recipe uses eggs as the only leavening agent (no chemical leaveners), it will most likely bake just fine, without any adjustments.

 

Flour. The air is drier up here, so your flour may be drier too. Pay attention to your dough or batter as you’re making it. Does it look dry, feel dry? Use less flour if that appears to be the case.

 

Cake Flour. I don’t like to use all cake flour in recipes. Cake flour is milled from a lower protein wheat and I find that it doesn’t provide the proper gluten development needed to bake structurally sound cakes up here. Use partial amounts of cake flour mixed with all-purpose flour. Ex: For a recipe calling for 3 cups of cake flour, use 1 cup cake flour, 2 cups all-purpose flour.

 

Liquids. Add 1/4- 1/2 cup more to your recipes for moister baked goods.

 

Sugar. Decrease the amount of sugar by a few tablespoons. I don’t measure it out, but for example, if I’m making something with 2 cups of sugar, I’ll use a scant cup each time. The air pressure can affect how much sugar is concentrated in a recipe, and this can make your baked goods have a gummy, odd texture if they’re not adjusted.

 

Cooking Caramel and Sugar. Always add an acid to sugar when it is going to be cooked to a certain temperature or to caramelize. Use either a squeeze of lemon juice or a pinch of cream of tartar. The acid will serve as ‘insurance’ to prevent your sugar from crystallizing or seizing. Make sure to wipe down any sugar crystals present on the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush.

Yeast-Raised Doughs. Yeast doughs rise quicker at altitude, so the proof time will be significantly less. To develop a stronger yeast flavor, you can always punch the dough down once and let it rise again. In some ways the short rise time can work in your favor if you are low on time!

Fried Doughs. Use a slightly lower frying temperature for even cooking. At normal temperatures (350-375 F), the doughnut or fritter may be dark on the outside but raw in the center.

Oven Temperature. For cakes and quick breads, it doesn’t hurt to increase the temperature slightly. This will ensure the structure of the baked item gets set quickly and reduces the chances of a collapse. If you notice towards the end that your baked item is getting too dark but still isn’t finished baking, reduce the temperature. For custards and cheesecakes, I like to use a 275-300 F oven temperature. They will take 2-3 times longer to set at altitude.



 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

100 comments… add one
  • Renee 14 May, 2012

    Thank you for this! I just moved to NE Wyoming in Dec 2010 from my home state of California (Bay Area) and I have lived all over the country without baking issues until I moved to Wyoming. I have used my tried and true baking recipes with repeated failure… having to depend on *gasp* boxed cake mixes when I can’t work my recipes out! I will try your tips and let you know how it works for us here in the Western Tip of the Black Hills. We are nearly 5000ft and though many people say it should not make a difference, it does! Thank you again for your post!

    Reply
  • Cate 2 Jun, 2012

    Nice to have a high altitude site. Hoping you will cover how to make meringue for pie with suggested adjustments. I live in Montana,at 5000 ft.

    Reply
  • Jeanne 12 Aug, 2012

    Thank you, I am excited to find a site for high altitude baking! I tend not to do a lot of baking, as I’ve spent most of my life living between 7500′ & 9500′ & have found it frustrating to master. Also, a few years ago, I found out that I need to be gluten-free. This has thrown an additional wrench in the baking process, as I am using alternative ingredients in my baked goods. Do you have any tried & true recipes that are gluten-free? I am especially interested in baking with grain-free flours, such as nut or bean flours; I have found that I feel better when I really limit any kind of grain in my diet. I also tend to steer clear of using refined sugar & use honey, instead. I have found some great recipes for almond flour quick breads & muffins (that also use honey as a sweetener), but they don’t work well at 9000′. When I made the quick bread, the batter bubbled over the loaf pan & made a big mess in my oven, & the muffins I made fell apart. Do you have any experience with these ingredients? If so, can you offer any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Megan 27 Aug, 2012

      Hi Jeanne! Thanks for your inquiries. It sounds like your quick bread and muffin recipes need to have some adjustments. For 9,000 ft, try using 1/4 less sugar/honey, and reduce your chemical leaveners (baking soda and/or baking powder) by more than half. Start with those adjustments and see if you have any improvements in your products. I am guessing maybe the muffins fell apart because they were made using gluten-free flour alternatives (which is tricky at altitude). Of course, I can’t be certain without seeing the actual recipe.

      I have some great recipes that are naturally gluten-free, and I too would also like to incorporate more varieties of flours into my baking, so I will keep all of that in mind next time I have a kitchen “play day” and create some new blog posts with gluten-free in mind.

      Some recipes already on this site that are gluten-free include: French Macarons and Stacked Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake. The bottom layer can be baked individually as a cake or brownie.

      Reply
  • Mischa 13 Nov, 2012

    Thank you for all the delicious-looking recipes! We just moved to the Andes at an altitude of about 8500 feet, and although I have read about the adjustments to be made, the descriptions above will help tremendously in understanding the science behind these adjustments as I adapt and create my own recipes! Although we can pick up bread for only about 13 cents a roll, there is nothing like fresh bread from my own oven. I’m grateful to be able to afford to eat more fresh bread and goodies here, too, since we walk so much! Thanks again, and please keep cooking as I will be waiting for more recipes! 🙂

    Reply
  • Alayna 31 Jan, 2013

    what month and day did you make this website?

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 1 Feb, 2013

      High Altitude Bakes is just over a year old. The first post was published 2/17/12.

      Reply
  • Lil 21 Feb, 2013

    I have lived at just over 7000 ft. for over 16 yrs. It did take a few tries to get cookies, breads cakes to come out well. I do usually have good results though. I might suggest however that if you are making boxed cake mixes make typical adjustments but to avoid a dry cake and less “doming” so you can layer the cake, reduce the temperature by 75 degrees. Also, be sure grease & flour the pan well. When cakes done, cool for no longer than 15 min. before loosening & inverting pan. Cake will not release from pan if to cool & dry.

    Reply
  • Carlee 17 Apr, 2013

    This is a wonderful resource with such clear and easy to understand explanations for high altitude baking. I live at over 8500 feet and have had more than my share of baked goodies go straight to the garbage! I do have a question though…. Where I live now I am unable to buy cake flour. I have some family recipes that call for it. I read that you don’t use it anyway. How do I substitute regular flour for cake flour? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 18 Apr, 2013

      Hi Carlee! Thanks for the kind words. You can always make your own cake flour by placing two tablespoons of cornstarch in a 1-cup measure. Add all-purpose flour to the top. That will now equal 1 cup of ‘cake’ flour. I’d probably add a little extra vanilla to the recipe to give it more of that store-bought cake flour taste too. Cake flour is what gives baked goods a finer, more delicate texture; but when used in full amount at high altitudes, it creates a gummy, collapsed mess. When I substitute all-purpose flour for cake flour, I usually use an equal ratio in its place. For some recipes though, I still want the cake flour taste and some of that fine texture, so if a recipe called for 3 cups of cake flour, I may do 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose and 1/2 cup cake flour, making sure to sift the flours and dry ingredients a couple of times to get a lighter texture. You can always test a recipe a few times and keep adjusting the amount of cake flour you use to see what maximum amount will work for that particular recipe. A helpful high altitude tip when substituting cake flour- try to think of cake flour as a flavoring agent, not a flour. Happy baking!

      Reply
      • Carlee 18 May, 2013

        Your advice worked quite well, thank you so much!! No more packing cake flour in my luggage when I go home to the States.

        Reply
  • Marcia 18 Apr, 2013

    I am so grateful you created this site. As an experienced home cook and baker living all but the last 4 yrs at sea level, moving to the Sacramento Mtns of NM (elevation 7000′ at my house) has been quite the challenge to my baking skills!
    I’ve read others’ tips on high altitude adjustments, but yours are more succinct and easy to understand.
    Thanks! I look forward to following your blog.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 18 Apr, 2013

      Marcia that’s really great to hear. We look forward to baking with you!

      Reply
  • AnnaG 15 May, 2013

    Just landed on this site — and I’m super glad to see it. We just moved from Seattle to Boulder and I’m anxious to try some (all?!) of your recipes. Great photography too! Thanks … looking forward to following you! 🙂

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 15 May, 2013

      Welcome to Colorado! Boulder has a great selection of specialty foods and local produce/meat, I think you’ll enjoy it. Cured is one of my favorite places!

      Reply
  • Lori 4 Aug, 2013

    Chef, this website has helped me considerably. There is also a difference between 5000 and 8000 elevation too. I moved to the high desert Nevada from the bay area and have experienced many failures but am starting to figure it out. Thank you. I just made whole wheat honey bread its perfect….

    Reply
  • Grace 23 Sep, 2013

    Thank you so much for your tips and adjustments! I love to bake and we just moved to La Paz, Bolivia, at 12,ooo ft. I have had some considerable baking failures since being here but I think your adjustments will help me:) Thanks!

    Reply
  • Reyna 13 Oct, 2013

    oops! can’t believe I have to type this whole thing over again. I have just relocated to Lone Tree, Co. from
    Tucson, AZ. My daughter in Tucson asked me to bake her a pound cake from my moms recipe. I have made this recipe many, many times when living in N.Y. State and Arizona and never had a problem.But this time
    they caved in. A real disappointment, as one of them had chopped walnuts on the top, The recipe is as
    follows: 3 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, 1 cup Crisco, 1 cup Buttermilk, 1 tsp. Baking Powder, 1 tsp. Baking
    Soda, 1 tsp. Vanilla, 1 tsp. Lemon {or Almond}extract, 1 tsp. Orange Peel. If I don’t have Buttermilk, I can
    substitute 1 cup Milk w/1 Tbsp. white vinegar. This time I used Buttermilk. Makes 2 loaves, bake at 350*
    for about 55 min. or til cake tester comes out clean. Can you help?? Thank you …Reyna…

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 13 Oct, 2013

      Hi Reyna- looks like your elevation is just under 6,000 feet. There are a few things you can do to increase your chance of a happily domed pound cake. First I suggest reducing the sugar. Try 1 3/4 cups. Next, reduce your chemical leaveners- for 6,000 feet, try using 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. If you notice the loaves still collapse, reduce the chemical leaveners another 1/8 teaspoon. If the loaves come out but seem too dense, try increasing the chemical leaveners by 1/8 teaspoon. Try not to get discouraged if this takes some tweaking until you get the perfect product, sometimes experimenting takes time! Happy baking 🙂

      Reply
  • Angie 23 Oct, 2013

    This is amazing!
    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this out for us.
    I just moved to Flagstaff, Az and have been unable to make a single decent macaroon!
    I thought maybe I was losing my touch!
    Again, thank you so much!

    Reply
  • Angie 4 Nov, 2013

    I have a quick question, I love making jelly rolls but I can’t seem to get them to rise properly.. do you have any good jelly roll recipes for high altitude?
    -Thanks!

    Reply
  • Shannon Walker 6 Feb, 2014

    I am so happy to find your site! I have been struggling with my baking for the past 5 years after moving to CO from CA. I have tried some of your trips and have been able to master a chocolate chip cookie, better than anything I was able to make at sea level too! I am just thrilled to add your site to my favorites!

    Reply
  • Starla 5 Mar, 2014

    Aloha Megan,
    I am so glad to have discovered your blog.
    I recently moved here to Colorado from Maui Hi, where I enjoyed being a casual home baker.
    I am having serious challenges with my baking! LOL
    From sea level to 8500ft is interesting in my kitchen to say the least. 😉
    So I say thank you in advance since I know I will be visiting this webpage often. 😉

    Starla

    Reply
  • Kim C 24 Mar, 2014

    Hi, Megan. Do you have a strawberry cake recipe (with real strawberries, please) at altitude? Or can you point me in the direction of a good website? My daughter’s birthday is next month and she really wants one! Thanks!

    Reply
  • Sydney Drinkwater 23 Nov, 2014

    Hi Megan! I have read a lot about “how to adjust” for living at high altitude but am far from a professional. I have little experience with breads but want to try more. If I have a yeast roll recipe many “sea level” friends like, what would be the first things you’d adjust in your trial and error for making it succeed? I live at 9800 feet! Do you do all of these adjustments or start with only a few?
    Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 23 Nov, 2014

      Hi Sydney! Here are some tips for your recipe:
      -Reduce your yeast slightly. Start by removing 1/4 teaspoon from the required amount. Yeast breads rise in almost half the time at altitude, so this just slows things down a bit.
      -Be prepared to add more liquid and use less flour. Our flour is a lot drier at altitude so you may find that your dough needs some extra moisture to come together. If it’s too dry, just add a little more liquid, a tiny bit at a time. Make a note that you won’t need the full amount of flour for next time you make the recipe.
      -Unless your kitchen is very cold, your dough will rise much quicker than it would at sea level. It could be doubled in as little as 25-30 minutes, depending on the recipe. If you want it to rise slower (this builds the yeast flavor), you can put it in the refrigerator to rise (if you have the time) or you can push it down once or twice and let it double again. Or you can always proceed on and be thrilled at the fact that we can start and finish a yeast product in sometimes as little as an hour!
      Happy baking!

      Reply
  • Yariana Wortz 5 Jan, 2015

    Hey Chef! Awesome website! My family just relocated from Georgia to Montrose,CO and it was definitely a shock for me on baking! I have been looking for the same thing as Kim, about a strawberry cake made with real strawberries. I’m terrified in all with the extra liquid going in.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 11 Jan, 2015

      Hi Yariana, if the liquid/puree freaks you out too much, another alternative is to add some powdered strawberry jell-o mix into your batter. This shouldn’t mess up any ratios, but, the flavor will be more artificial.

      Reply
  • Julia Armstront 12 Jan, 2015

    I am trying, without success, to produce a Czech delicacy called a Kolache (at least in Texas). I live at 9000 feet in northern New Mexico and flour often gets dry. Last effort didn’t rise first time. Advice?

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 19 Jan, 2015

      Hi Julia, I love kolaches! We grew up eating this recipe from Taste of Home, and my mom made them frequently: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/fruit-filled-kolaches. I also have baked and enjoyed this recipe by Rebecca Rather numerous times : https://houseofhatton.wordpress.com/tag/kolache-recipe/ They’re both great recipes.

      For any kind of yeast dough, you may not need the full amount of flour, as our flour is much drier at altitude. Measure out the full amount of flour, and slowly add it as you mix your dough. You may find that the dough is supple and ready to go with much less than called for. The flour wouldn’t have as much to do with the rise as the yeast and temperature. Check your yeast to see that it is still fresh and active. Put some in warm water and see if it bubbles after 5 minutes- that’s a sure way to tell. You’ll also want to give your yeast dough a warm, humid environment to rise in. I preheat my oven to the lowest setting and then turn it off as soon as it’s ready, before I start my dough. Once the dough is ready to rise, I place it in the warm oven with a steaming bowl or pan of water and shut the door. This creates a very friendly environment for the yeast.

      Reply
  • Lillian Flaherty 22 Jan, 2015

    I’m sorry to take up you time, but I have been in Search of a Coconut-Oatmeal Cookie Recipe
    I’m new to High Altitude Baking and even after reading your “Adjustment for Higher
    Gratitude’s”, I’m nut sure if I want to trust myself to changing a reipe. My son and I just moved to AZ from CA into 4,000 Altitude. Recipe flours: l cup EA of white and brown sugar, l cup Crisco, 2 eggs, l-l/2 tsp. Vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 c. flour, 1 tsp. baking pod.,
    2-1/2 c. oatmeal, l c. coconut, 375 oven, l0-12 min. My son’s favorite. I’m 85–can you help; I would certainly appreciate it. Eye sight is poor but people like you who are
    willing to help Senior’s, baking will all be a pleasure. Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 22 Jan, 2015

      Hi Lillian, for your coconut oatmeal cookie recipe, baked at 4,000 feet, I suggest reducing your baking powder to 3/4 teaspoon instead of a full 1 teaspoon. That looks like the only adjustment you need to make. Hope it’s a success!

      Reply
    • Lillian Flaherty 27 Jan, 2015

      Dear Megan,
      I don’t why I must have missed your first email and I do apologize for taking your extra time to send it again. I thank you so much for your suggestion to change the baking powder. I’m sure it will be what I’m looking for. I hope that sometime when you have a spare minute that you will try this recipe. I will note that I also added 1/2 cup of chopped of walnuts and 1/2 cup of raisins. My son liked the coconut and oatmeal combination, but also suggested the raisins and I always like nuts in my cookies and I
      thought it was a good combination. However, the dough was quite heavy–maybe another
      teaspoon of vanilla?? or longer baking?? So happy to have found a friend such as you.
      Thank you and God Bless You. Lillian

      Reply
      • Chef Megan Joy 28 Jan, 2015

        Hi Lillian, no need to apologize. I am glad to be of assistance for you! For a heavy dough, maybe bake longer next time 🙂

        Reply
  • Grace 5 Feb, 2015

    Thank you for the guidelines! These are extremely helpful. I’ve used both this guide and your recipes to much success. However, do you have any suggestions for adjusting chemical leaveners at 8,000 ft? I’ve tried both increasing and decreasing baking soda/powder, and either it works beautifully, or I get an ugly sunken mess! I can’t seem to figure it out.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 12 Feb, 2015

      Hi Grace, I think that most of the recipes I have on here, adjusted for my altitude, will also work well for you at 8,000 feet. I have found that occasionally for more sensitive baked goods, reducing the baking soda even more than the baking powder can be helpful.

      Reply
  • Sherri 16 Feb, 2015

    I live at 9250 ft. and I have trouble whenever I use cocoa. No matter the recipe, anything I make with baking cocoa has the same taste. Also, the cake is much lighter in color then when I made in PA. My mom’s choc cake recipe is almost black in PA; here medium brown. I just made a black and white cake and the “black” was medium brown. Whoopie pies, in PA rich dark brown, here medium brown. I have somewhat perfected the rising by tweaking the leavenings, flour and sugar. Before I learned that, my shoofly pie literally exponentially produced the gooey bottom 5 times the typical amount all over the oven like a volcano. Never again. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 18 Feb, 2015

      Hi Sherri. Yes, high altitude baking certainly presents its own unique challenges! I really like Cacao Barry cocoa powder. It is very dark and rich due to it’s high fat content, which also yields a great flavor.

      Reply
  • Rebecca 3 Mar, 2015

    I’m so excited to find your site – I live at 8,300 ft and I’ve stopped baking because nothing turns out right (even recipes from neighbors who live a few hundred feet below me). I can’t wait to try your recipes.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 3 Mar, 2015

      Welcome Rebecca! I hope you have great success with your baking!

      Reply
  • Amanda O 28 Jun, 2015

    I moved to Colorado last August. After many attempts to make things I am usually good at baking on the east coast I had completely given up. Rather than have my new wife think I was a horrible baker I decided to quit. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and advice! I can now finally get a decent muffin baked in CO. Springs!

    Reply
  • Jeanie Fahey 2 Sep, 2015

    Hi Megan,

    Next week I will be living at 8300 feet in Colorado. Thank you very much for the high altitude baking tips. Where I used to live, at sea level, I had my recipes perfected. For the short time I have been in Denver the altitude is killing me baking. So, I look forward to trying your ideas.

    Maybe you can help me with my fudge recipe. Again, I had it mastered at sea level. I made 6, 1/2 batches and none of them turned out.
    The recipe calls for

    3 3/4 cups sugar
    3 Tbs. corn syrup
    1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    1 tsp. salt
    4 oz. unsweetened chocolate chips
    3 Tbs. unsalted butter

    Cook and stir over medium heat until it begins to boil. Stop stirring and let mixture get to 237 degrees. Remove from heat, add butter and let sit until it cools to 110 degrees. Pour into mixer and mix until it thickens and gets one shade lighter. Put in pans to cool.

    I have tried adjusting cooking times and mixing times and it never turns out. It usually never hardens or a few times it seizes in the mixer. I have varied the temps from 236 to 239. I would like to have it mastered again before the holidays. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Jeanie

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 3 Sep, 2015

      Hi Jeanie,

      My first suggestion is to add a little pinch of cream of tartar or lemon juice to your mixture before cooking it. This will help prevent it from seizing. Cooking sugar-based candies at altitude can always be a challenge, since water boils at a lower temperature. For every 1,000 feet above sea level, your cooking temperature should be lowered 2 degrees F. With your altitude of 8,300 feet, I suggest cooking your candy to 220 F, or just barely under that (to account for the extra 300 feet). Best of luck!

      Reply
  • Ali 1 Oct, 2015

    I need help I’ve moved from Florida to Tennessee and I’m at a lost back in Florida I made the best cheesecakes every but since I’ve been here in Tennessee I can’t get not 1 to cook right it’s making me very mad I’m
    A perfectionist when it comes to baking .. It’s gooey and plain as all get out and it’s the same recipe I’ve always done and I’ve been doing it for bout 9 years help… I’m not used to above sea level ..

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 2 Oct, 2015

      Hi Ali, my advice for cheesecakes is to bake them “low and slow”. I usually have my oven anywhere from 300-325 F. I’ll put the cheesecake in a water bath too. Cheesecakes and baked custards take a lot longer to bake at altitude, so be prepared to wait well over an hour (sometimes closer to two hours), depending on the size. Make sure they are puffed and firm (with barely any wiggle) when you take them out of the oven. Let the cheesecake cool in its water bath, then move to the refrigerator to chill completely. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  • janet 2 Nov, 2015

    Hi Megan,
    I moved from NYC to Mexico City and found that none of my favorite recipes worked. I was so lost – I love to bake. But, I found your super useful website and am hoping to be back in the saddle (or kitchen) soon. Thanks so much for your generous sharing of expertise. Very kind. Thank you!

    Reply
  • janet 2 Nov, 2015

    I was reading through the comments here and noticed some comments on cocoa and chocolate. Um, I may be challenged here in Mexico with the altitude but I want to share a discovery with you, if you don’t know it already: Ibarra unsweetened cocoa powder. Not easy to find even here BUT honestly, for cocoa it is like the difference between freshly grated nutmeg and something found in the back of your cupboard that’s been there for years. Megan, if you can’t get it, I’ll send you a box or two just to try it. AMAZING. My cooking instructor (aka ex mother in law) always said “Start with the best and freshest ingredients you can get”. Truer words were never spoken.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 5 Nov, 2015

      Thanks for the tip Janet! I’ll keep my eyes out for that brand 🙂

      Reply
  • Marcelle Moore 5 Nov, 2015

    cream pies: I will be baking coconut cream pie while i am visiting Reno, Nev. over Thankgiving. I live in Texas
    what changes should I make to the custard for the altitude in Reno
    Thanks for any help you can give me
    Marcelle

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 5 Nov, 2015

      Hi Marcelle, your custard recipe should work the same at altitude, just like it does at sea level. Lucky for you, you have a recipe that isn’t affected by changes in elevation! Happy baking and holidays to you.

      Reply
  • Susannah 9 Nov, 2015

    I’m so grateful to your website and suggestions. Having lived at a high altitude for right around two years after spending a lifetime at sea level brings all kinds of challenges to cooking. I appreciate your suggestions and explanations as to why you made these suggestions. I’m stoked to have stumbled upon your website.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 25 Nov, 2015

      Thank you Susannah! One of these days I plan to return to blogging and sharing more recipes on her. I appreciate your kind words!

      Reply
  • Maigen 23 Dec, 2015

    I’m so happy that I found your website! I recently moved to Colorado from Georgia and the altitude here makes me feel like I’m a terrible baker! I can’t wait to try some of your recipes 🙂

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 27 Dec, 2015

      Welcome to Colorado, Maigen!

      Reply
      • Christine Krause 20 Feb, 2016

        Hi Megan
        I love your website!

        A suggestion for folks whose recipes use a candy thermometer:
        I read somewhere that you should test the temperature at which water comes to a boil. Subtract that difference from 212 degrees F, and write it down.

        I’ve used this method to make turtle brownies, which have a luscious caramel layer, Italian meringue buttercream and toffee, and it works like a charm!

        Reply
  • Emily 4 Sep, 2016

    Thanks for all these tips! My struggle has come trying to bake at high altitude and gluten free! It is quite a challenge.
    I’m dying to make this recipe like I used to, but every adjustment I try still doesn’t work. Any advice? https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/pumpkin-cookies-with-penuche-frosting/a915db52-54cc-49a7-8046-8e99d5adb567

    Reply
  • Shelbi 8 Jan, 2017

    I am in Breckenridge, CO (10,000 ft?) and wanting to make these cinnamon rolls that I make in Texas: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/yukon-gold-cinnamon-rolls. Any specific suggestions? I thought I’d add an egg and cut some of the sugar/flour as you suggested and then adjust the baking time/temperature as well.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 8 Jan, 2017

      Hi Shelbi, the only things I would adjust would be your yeast and the flour. Try using 1 1/4- 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast instead of the scant 2 tablespoons, and add the flour very gradually as you may not need the full amount- flour is much drier up here! Your dough will rise much faster, so keep that in mind too. If you want a slower rise and a more developed yeast flavor, let it rise in the refrigerator overnight. You may need to punch the dough down once during this time. Enjoy!

      Reply
      • Shelbi 9 Jan, 2017

        Thank you so much! I really appreciate the help!

        Reply
  • Susanne 2 Feb, 2017

    Thank you so much, I am used to a life time of baking in Germany and was so discouraged wth the results here in Boulder, Colorado esp. with the Christmas cookie reciepies that have been in my family for generations. I am hopeful with your tips I will have a better understanding of why things don´t work out and how to fix them!

    Reply
  • Ki 9 Feb, 2017

    I really appreciate the time and detail you have out into your site and recipes. Thanks from 8500ft in NoCo.

    Reply
  • Pat 18 Feb, 2017

    I have made biscuits all my life. Nice big fluffy inside lightly custy on the top. For some reason at 5000 ft altitude they never turn out right….what am i doing wrong. have tried multiple recipies. My old recipe was always the simple crisco. But have tried butter as well. increased the temp a little. They seem to be dry and don’t raise like they used too.

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 18 Feb, 2017

      Hi Pat, my guess is that the biggest issue is the chemical leaveners- baking soda and/or baking powder. When you’re above sea level, because of air pressure, you’ll want to reduce these in your recipe. Start by using 1/8 teaspoon less and you may need to increase that depending on how happy you are with the results. Flour is also much drier at altitude, so you may not need as much as your normally would- this can make dry baked goods. Try using less or using more liquids. Best of luck and happy baking!

      Reply
  • Susan 26 Feb, 2017

    Hi Chef Megan,
    Baking at 7200 ft…. my Lemon Bars, baked at 375 (recipe was 350). The bars came out flat, dense, and bubbles on the surface…..tasty, but not fluffy as they should be. Maybe they needed more time in the oven? I decreased the baking powder (recipe is for 1/2t and i reduced by 1/8t)….maybe i should have reduced the BP by a scant teaspoon? what could i have done different?
    thanks!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 11 Mar, 2017

      Hi Susan, it sounds to me like they should have been baked a little longer. I’d try that next time before adjusting any baking powder.

      Reply
  • Jann 1 Mar, 2017

    Hi! Great site. I’m in southern Colorado,at a little over 6010 feet. When steaming egg custard it always weeps as it cools off. Flavor and texture are fine, it’s just that liquid accumulates when I dip into it. I do put foil over the container of custard, then put a lid on the pot to prevent condensation dripping into the custard. Is my problem from the altitude, or something else? I appreciate any help!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 11 Mar, 2017

      Hi Jann, it seems that there is always a tendency for some weeping with egg custards, though from a scientific standpoint, if the egg custard was overcooked- either too high of a temperature or for a bit too long- the proteins from the eggs “setting” come together so tightly they start to squeeze out water. You can help the custard bake at a lower temperature by baking it in water bath, which will cook the custard much more gently and slowly. Once you take it out of the oven, remove the custard from the water bath and cool on a rack completely. Baking in a water bath, especially at altitude, will take a bit longer than you may be used to, so give yourself a nice window to bake the custard when you plan to do so.

      You may already make your custard in a water bath if it’s a steamed custard, I realize, so my other input would be to reduce your oven temperature and let it cook at a lower and and slower pace. Good luck and happy baking!

      Reply
  • Becky 7 Mar, 2017

    For someone living in Denver, do you have any tips for baking with cream cheese? Recipes that would have a baked in cream cheese layer have failed because the cream cheese “disappears.” Also, do you have any tips for cheesecake? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 11 Mar, 2017

      Hi Becky, I’m not too sure about the cream cheese layer disappearing- my first guess is maybe it just was a very thin layer for the recipe? Perhaps double the cream cheese layer amount and try it again. For cheesecake, I always bake mine “low and slow”- keep your oven temp 300-325 F and bake the cheesecake in a water bath. To do this I wrap the pan in foil so no water will seep in. At altitude they take a lot longer than sea level, so be prepared! The cheesecake will be done when it jiggles as a whole, versus individual little ripples, and it feels firm to the touch. I let the cheesecake cool in the water bath, out of the oven, for about 10-15 minute before carefully removing it and letting it cool completely on a cooling rack. Then place your cheesecake in the refrigerator to chill.

      Reply
  • Steph 5 Apr, 2017

    I’m so excited to find your website. We just moved to Denver from Dallas, and I’ll be attempting meringue cookies at higher altitude for the first time. I think these tips will help them not be a flop (pun intended)!

    Reply
  • Erin 16 Apr, 2017

    Hi! I just made your peanut butter cookies and they were delicious! I really want to be able to make the cookies I grew up on in San Jose California. I’ve been unable to bake much of any dessert since I moved to Colorado at 6270. I want to alter my family recipe and make it work here. What do you suggest?

    1 cup shortening
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup peanut butter
    2 eggs
    3 cups sifted flour
    1 1/2 tsp soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt

    Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 16 Apr, 2017

      Hi Erin, I would recommend using 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder and maybe 1 1/8th teaspoons of baking soda. If they are still ‘off’, try using even less baking soda.

      Reply
  • Nina 26 May, 2017

    Hello, Megan. My mother bakes a delicious cheesecake. One that involves putting the cake in a cold oven, turning the oven on for an hour, then turning the oven off for an hour with door closed, then leaving the cake in the oven with the door open for an hour. She moved from Raleigh, NC to El Paso, Texas several years ago and has not had success with it since then. She told me that the outside bakes but not the center. I am thinking it must do with the altitude. Can you help?

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 11 Jul, 2017

      Hi Nina, you’re correct, cheesecakes can be affected by altitude. I recommend low and slow- bake the cheesecake at 300-325 F, preferably in a water bath, until the center barely jiggles.

      Reply
  • sassiebrat 31 May, 2017

    All the Web sites I have read state that high altitude starts at 3,000 ft. I moved to Las Vegas (2030 ft) from Los Angeles and I can attest that cooking in Las Vegas is different and the only thing I can attribute this to is altitude. I made pancakes this morning for the first time since moving and the batter LOOKED different; it was much drier and thicker. The pancakes rose to a unbelievable height. Nothing changed but the location.

    Reply
  • Florence 6 Aug, 2017

    Recently I have not been able to get puddings and custards to “set up”. I understand egg freshness can be a problem but I don’t think that is the case. Will adding or decreasing the quantity of eggs help?

    Reply
  • Amber 22 Sep, 2017

    Thank you for some insight… we live over 8,200ft in Cuenca Ecuador and my daughter has Celiac disease so everything needs to be gluten free (making it extra hard on my baking skills) I’m going to try some of your tips!

    Reply
  • Thank You for your tips. I live in South América more Than 8.000 feet altitude I Will try your sugestiones for my business 14 Oct, 2017

    I live more Than 8.000 feet high in South América. I Will try your tips for my business Thank You very much

    Reply
  • Eileen 30 Nov, 2017

    thank you for your tips. When making cinnamon buns the sugar seems to evaporate, I thought about just making a sticky sauce to pour over baked buns. But it just not the same. I wonder if adding the cream of tartar will help my issue?

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 6 Dec, 2017

      Hi Eileen, do you mean the filling disappears? If that’s the case you can use more when making and rolling your buns. We like to spread frosting over the cinnamon buns shortly after they come out of the oven. It melts over the tops and adds a nice touch of sweet.

      Reply
  • Andra 31 Jan, 2018

    When cooking creme Brule at 7500 feet, do you increase the oven temperature. Our recipe says 40 minutes @ 325….it takes 1.25 hrs to get it to set.
    It is perfect texture smooth and silky…just takes longer. Yes we cook it in a water bath and the watee us boiling when we put it in.
    Any suggestions ?
    Tks

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 3 Feb, 2018

      Hi Andra, I do not increase the oven temperature when baking creme brulee and other custards. I learned the hard way- low and slow is the only way to avoid scrambled eggs! They do take a long time at altitude but from my experience in restaurants and hotels, this is the best way to bake them with success. You can also bake them in a water bath which helps everything stay a consistent temperature as well.

      Reply
  • Liz W 3 Feb, 2018

    Hello,

    Your website is a wonderful resource, thank you! I live at sea level but have been asked to bake whoopie pies for a friend’s wedding in Colorado at 9,000 feet. Your recipe looks delicious but I’d like to adjust my standard one which uses dark chocolate in addition to cocoa powder. I know I need to reduce the leavening and possibly the sugar, but I’d greatly appreciate your suggestions for how to best adjust this recipe. I’ll be making 6x batch but this is the basic recipe:

    8 oz Ghirardelli 60% chocolate chips
    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup + 1 Tbs sugar
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup whole milk
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup + 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Chef Megan Joy 3 Feb, 2018

      Hi Liz, I’m glad to hear, thank you! For your recipe, the only thing I would adjust here is the baking powder. For a 1x recipe, try using 3/4 teaspoon. You may also find that your whoopie pies taste better with 1 cup of flour, and not the additional tablespoon. That’s so kind of you to make these for your friend’s wedding. Happy baking!

      Reply
      • Liz W 4 Feb, 2018

        Thank you Megan, I really appreciate your input!

        Reply
  • Febe 2 Sep, 2018

    Hello chef Megan Febe again with another question, do you have a recipe for a blueberry cake? or can I add blueberries to your sponge cake? I love the sponge cake it is so good. thank you and have a great evening…

    Reply
  • Diane 24 Sep, 2018

    I so want to be able to bake a traditional Victorian Sponge cake. I live at approximately 4600 feet and have had nothing but epic fails. It calls for self rising flour and I don’t think that is the best idea.

    Reply
  • Misty 10 Nov, 2018

    Hi! We just moved to CO this summer and we are at an elevation of 7400. I’ve not had much luck with my baking since moving here. As Christmas nears, I’m starting to stress about the cookies I make each year. Most of the recipes call for sugar (one calls for brown sugar) and about 2 cups of flour each. I think a couple call for baking soda/powder. How would your recommend adjusting these so that they rise and don’t end up in a flat gooey mess? Thanks!

    Reply
  • Claire 17 Nov, 2018

    Hi Chef, I am a baker and an instructor and I live at 3000 feet altitudes I specialize in Flan . I use 5 eggs and my cream cheese Flan comes out flat. Very frustrating. Can you give me some advise for Flan elevation? Looking forward to your response

    Reply
  • Connie 20 Nov, 2018

    My family is staying in our cabin at 8,600 ft in Southern Colorado for Thanksgiving this year. I am baking pumpkin pie and pecan pie and worry about how they will turn out. I am following the recipe on the can of pureed pumpkin and the Betty Crocker recipe for pecan pie. Do you have any tips? Thank you.

    Reply
  • Dana Scott 22 Nov, 2018

    We just moved to Colorado and are at 8500 feet. I love to bake but has proven very frustrating. Thank you so much for your tips on how to overcome the altitude. I am encouraged to try again now!

    Reply

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