Baking at high altitude

So, from time to time I bake. I had heard when I first got here that things are different up here at 6200 feet and that I’d need to make some changes.

I never had much problem till I tied to make red velvet cupcakes. They exploded then sank (they were still delish). I asked around and everyone treated me like I was nuts, that there’s really no difference in baking up here. Except that there are actual books written about it. Those people probably bake from mixes (snicker and eye roll). I didn’t want to BUY another cookbook, especially since I don’t really bake that often. So I didn’t think about it again and had some success with other recipes.

Then the other day I made a buttermilk pound cake and had the same problem of it exploding then sinking (it was also tasty). I gave it some thought and determined that the common denominator was buttermilk. There must be something different you need to do with buttermilk.

I googled it and got some different remedies, changes in ingredients, etc and then I made  buttermilk banana bread. It was better, it sank a little and exploded a little but in the end it looked pretty normal and tasted great- it was very moist and flavorful. I think all it needed was to have less batter put in the pan before baking.

So today I’m making a chocolate loaf cake. With buttermilk. It made a TON of batter. I only filled the pan half full- and I can probably make two more cakes! Maybe that’s the secret. Just fill the pan less? What do you think? Do you bake  with buttermilk at high altitude? The cake is still in the oven but I’ll let you know how it comes out! Once I get some good recipes going, I’ll post them here because I haven’t found a lot in the way of actual high altitude recipes online.

Ok, so the chocolate loaf cake came out OK. It wasn’t super awesome or anything and it was just the tiniest bit too dry. It made two loaves. I adapted a recipe I found on cooks.com for both the cake and the frosting. Here are the recipes. Next time I’ll use an additional egg to try and combat the slight dryness of the cake.

2 sticks butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs (I’ll use 4 next time)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1 cup buttermilk

2 tsp. vanilla

1/4th tsp baking soda

2  cups flour + 1/2 cup flour

Cream butter and sugar in a big bowl.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.

Melt chocolate in microwave or saucepan then mix it with the 1/2 cup flour (this was in the original recipe, not sure why they did it this way)

Add chocolate mixture to butter and sugar mixture.

Mix baking soda with flour and then add flour and buttermilk to butter and sugar  mixture, alternating between them.

Fill a loaf pan only 1/2 to 2/3rds full at the most. Bake at 325 degrees in the lowest third of the oven. I think my oven is off kilter and I may have cooked it at 300 degrees.  I have an oven thermometer and that’s what it said, but I don’t really know how accurate that is either. I think I baked it for around 45 minutes. I started checking at after 25 minutes.

Here’s the cake:

buttermilk chocolate loaf cake at high altitude

buttermilk chocolate loaf cake

The frosting is:

1/4 cup butter

3 TBS buttermilk

2  tsp vanilla- I used that vanilla bean paste stuff that has little vanilla bean flecks in it — it’s really good!

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Melt the butter and buttermilk together, then add the vanilla. Then mix in the powdered sugar.  I didn’t use a mixer for this, just did it by hand. Add more powdered sugar if it seems too thin or more buttermilk if it seems too thick.

buttermilk chocolate cake with vanilla frosting

buttermilk chocolate cake with vanilla frosting