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Question for high altitude scratch bakers

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I live in Colorado where the altitude is just above 5,000 ft. I've done a lot of research on baking in high altitudes and how to adjust certain ingredients so my cakes will bake properly....decreasing sugar, baking powder, fat...increasing liquid, flour, eggs, etc. I'm usually able to adjust a recipe to make it work for me.

Whenever I try a cake recipe with butter, make all the necessary adjustments for high altitude, it turns out dry and crusty on the outside and sinks in the middle. I also use bake even strips and/or flower nail on anything bigger than a 6".

I have a scratch wasc recipe that uses shortening and it turns out great. I have chocolate cake recipe that uses oil and it turns out great. I also found a website with a bunch of high altitude cake recipes and not one uses butter.

Does anyone know of a high altitude vanilla or yellow cake recipe that uses butter and actually turns out good? Or do you know of any adjustments that I can make to an existing recipe using butter? Or do I just forget about using butter all together in my cakes?!
post #2 of 12
Hi debbief,

I'm in Colorado too and would love to have this information.

I just recently tried the Sturdy Cake recipe with the adjustments that another member added to the comments and it turns out beautifully but doesn't use butter, just oil...flavor is wonderful, cuts beautifully and is very moist. You can change it up with different cake mixes and pudding flavors.
ladij153

Just a reminder for us all: Freedom isn't free....Many humble thanks to those few of you who are willing to pay the price for the many of us....
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ladij153

Just a reminder for us all: Freedom isn't free....Many humble thanks to those few of you who are willing to pay the price for the many of us....
Reply
post #3 of 12
Hi, Debbie, I always thought some recipes just don't transition well to high altitude. After reading your post, I checked my recipes and all my go-to scratch recipes are shortening (or oil) cakes with the exception of two! Of the 2, one calls for 1/4 cup of shortening and 1/4 cup of butter and the other is the Marble Cake recipe from the Martha Stewart Wedding Cakes book. I never made the connection that the recipes I couldn't adjust and master were butter cakes. Interesting thought.

I've pretty much settled into the recipes I like but I think I might experiment with a butter cake by replacing 1/2 the butter with shortening to see if that makes a difference.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your replies. This happens to be one of those posts that I didn't get notification of the replies. I decided to check "my forum posts" and saw your comments.

I've been trying to find some type of explanation and it seems like I've read something in the past but I can't remember the details. Anyway, I found this short article. I'll continue searching and if I find anymore info I'll post here for my fellow high altitude bakers. icon_smile.gif


http://www.ehow.com/info_8394569_difference-between-butter-shortening-cakes.html

I'm thinking about trying the butter flavor crisco. I've never used it before. I wonder if it will have an artificial flavor to it.

BTW I found two yellow cake recipes that I tried last night. One used shortening and one used oil. The one with the shortening also used cake flour and turned out very soft and fluffy but on the bland side and not very moist. The one with the oil tasted good and seemed moist enough but the crust was way overdone before the cake was fully baked. Maybe I'll try again and lower the oven temp...
post #5 of 12
I live in Wyoming at 5,000+ feet. I have tried and tried scratch cakes and they turned out dry, or they fell, or they were very bland. I tried the WASC and have never looked back...and don't even feel guilty. I get great reviews from my customers for my cakes (much more than when I was baking scratch cakes) and I can alter that recipe to whatever flavor I need. I did find that reducing your sugar is important - especially when adding sweeter liquids, sometimes by half, and I bake at 360 degrees. Hope this helps!
post #6 of 12
Me again.... One other thing I noticed is that using just egg whites in a cake at this altitude doesn't seem to work for some reason.... I always use whole eggs. Downside is never a true white cake...so I just offer a vanilla cake.
post #7 of 12
I read the article you linked to debbief, interesting....makes me wonder if...since butter colntains water...maybe decrease the liquid by maybe a tablespoon? Might make a difference? Hmmm....lol...I see this turning into a science experiment!!! Too bad they don't have chickens that can lay eggs with white yoks!! I was thinking about the whole egg thing too...maybe use half egg whites and half whole eggs? I would think it would have less yellow?
ladij153

Just a reminder for us all: Freedom isn't free....Many humble thanks to those few of you who are willing to pay the price for the many of us....
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ladij153

Just a reminder for us all: Freedom isn't free....Many humble thanks to those few of you who are willing to pay the price for the many of us....
Reply
post #8 of 12
"Pie in the Sky" by Susan Purdy contains butter cake recipes that have worked for me at 5,000 feet elevation. Check out her website, highaltitudebaking.com.
post #9 of 12
Debbie, I just re-read your post and one of the things that I didn't notice before was it looks like you decrease the leavening AND increase the flour? I think I would do one or the other, not both. Don't quote me on this because I'm no scientist but I thought the increase in flour was to counteract the need for less leavening. For instance, in a cake mix, you can't adjust the leavening, thus the instructions tell you to increase the flour. I've never increased the flour in a scratch recipe; I decrease the leavening by 1/4 teaspoon for each teaspoon.

It can also help to separate your eggs; add the yolks when the recipe calls for the eggs but whip the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them into the batter at the end.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Quote:

sabre

"Pie in the Sky" by Susan Purdy contains butter cake recipes that have worked for me at 5,000 feet elevation. Check out her website, highaltitudebaking.com.



Thank you sabre. I just went to that website and looks like there is some good information. I'll definately have to spend some time reading it. I'd like to try some of her recipes as well.

Quote:
Quote:

ladij153

I read the article you linked to debbief, interesting....makes me wonder if...since butter colntains water...maybe decrease the liquid by maybe a tablespoon? Might make a difference? Hmmm....lol...I see this turning into a science experiment!!! Too bad they don't have chickens that can lay eggs with white yoks!! I was thinking about the whole egg thing too...maybe use half egg whites and half whole eggs? I would think it would have less yellow?



Ladij153, from what I've read, liquid should actually be increased and that seems to work for me usually. Also, if I have an extra rich recipe, I always add an extra egg (the whole egg) and that helps too. The whites work for strengthening, but also can cause the cake to be dry. There's just so much science to it all, it's hard to keep it all straight!

Quote:
Quote:

jhill3691

Me again.... One other thing I noticed is that using just egg whites in a cake at this altitude doesn't seem to work for some reason.... I always use whole eggs. Downside is never a true white cake...so I just offer a vanilla cake.



jhill3691, I use a scratch wasc recipe that uses only egg whites that I like. But I also use the whole egg in the same recipe (just use less eggs) when I don't need a true white. I do prefer the whole egg recipe.

Quote:
Quote:

Elcee

Debbie, I just re-read your post and one of the things that I didn't notice before was it looks like you decrease the leavening AND increase the flour? I think I would do one or the other, not both. Don't quote me on this because I'm no scientist but I thought the increase in flour was to counteract the need for less leavening. For instance, in a cake mix, you can't adjust the leavening, thus the instructions tell you to increase the flour. I've never increased the flour in a scratch recipe; I decrease the leavening by 1/4 teaspoon for each teaspoon.

It can also help to separate your eggs; add the yolks when the recipe calls for the eggs but whip the egg whites to soft peaks and fold them into the batter at the end.



Elcee, I don't always do every adjustment in every recipe but this is what I've read about flour and leavening. "Increasing the flour is necessary to disperse the leavening action and slow down the rapid rise of the cake. The extra liquid is to counterbalance the rapid evaporation of liquids at high altitudes and the extra flour added to the cake batter."

I have a white cake recipe that calls for whipping the egg whites and adding at the end, but it doesn't use the yolks at all. I'll try your suggestion and separate the eggs for whole egg recipes. I have read however, not to overbeat the eggs which can cause cells to collapse. Also adding an additional egg to rich cakes will help keep them from falling.

I've been researching and reading information on this for awhile now trying to get a good scratch recipe collection and I've saved a fair amount of information to a Word document.

If you are interested, let me know and I will email it to you.

Also, the website by Susan Purdy - highaltitudebaking.com suggested by sabre looks like it has some great information. I plan to read that thoroughly. Thanks again sabre!

Thanks to all you for your suggestions and input. I do appreciate the help. icon_smile.gif
post #11 of 12
Thanks debbief,

I will read that info too. I agree that we have to increase the liquid along with flour etc...I was only thinking that since butter contains water it might be just enough to throw the delicate balance of ingredients off...so thought if the liquid was reduced just a smidge (like no more than a tbsp but perhaps even less) when using butter it would balance things out. I will try it and see what happens if anything. Just need to find a good scratch butter cake recipe now.
ladij153

Just a reminder for us all: Freedom isn't free....Many humble thanks to those few of you who are willing to pay the price for the many of us....
Reply
ladij153

Just a reminder for us all: Freedom isn't free....Many humble thanks to those few of you who are willing to pay the price for the many of us....
Reply
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ladij153

Thanks debbief,

I will read that info too. I agree that we have to increase the liquid along with flour etc...I was only thinking that since butter contains water it might be just enough to throw the delicate balance of ingredients off...so thought if the liquid was reduced just a smidge (like no more than a tbsp but perhaps even less) when using butter it would balance things out. I will try it and see what happens if anything. Just need to find a good scratch butter cake recipe now.



ladij153, I see what you're saying and that does make sense. Please let me know your results when you try this.
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