Friday, March 23, 2012

High Altitude Cooking

Why do things bake/cook differently when your at a high altitude? ie Denver

Weeeeell. It's all about the water folks. 
The most important fact is that at sea level water boils at 212F degrees. The higher in altitude you go, the lower the boiling temp gets, so by the time you get to (picking on)Denver water boils at just over 200F degrees. But why? 

The boiling point of water is when atmospheric pressure equals the vapor pressure. Basically, there is less atmospheric pressure at a higher elevation, so less vapor pressure is required. The most obvious example of this is a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers increase the pressure so that the water boils at a higher temperature which decreases the amount of time needed to cook Make sense? Great. We all scientists now.

So what it 'Boils' (are you laughing at my humorous pun yet?) down to:
Lower pressure=slower cooking times
Higher pressure=faster cooking times

Take your lab coats off and put your floral patterned baking aprons back on please. So what does it mean when your cooking something?

Well, your water in your recipe is going to boil out quicker so most of the time adjusting means adding more water and more flour (for structure.) You need water in what your baking to keep things chemically reacting properly. For example, baking powder wont react when there is no water. The other big factor is that you will need to increase your cooking time as well. There are a lot of different ways you can adjust but I'm not going to cover them because i don't want to. Cheers!


  1. ties right into my chemistry studies. you sir, might have just scored me some extra credit por mi teacher. good job

  2. I always wondered why some recipes (cakes etc) have high-altitude variations. Now I know.

    I still think you should cover the other ways to adjust recipes for altitude. "I don't want to" is not a good excuse.