[Sca-cooks] baking at high altitudes

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Wed Feb 25 09:32:25 PST 2009

Lower air pressure causes some problems in baking.  Rise occurs when the 
dough traps CO2 in the strands of gluten.  Vigorous CO2 production can cause 
outgassing from the dough reducing the rise.  However, I will say that I 
haven't had much problem with baking basic white bread at altitude with a 
properly stored yeast.  When I encounter such a problem, I'll check the 
baking at altitude information in The Joy of Cooking.

One needs to be even more careful with chemical leavens at altitude.  In 
fact a number of recipes, reduce the amount of chemical leavens above 3000 

Temperature control also becomes more critical at altitude.  Water boils at 
less than 212 deegrees F (100 degrees C), which can produce a dry or an 
underbaked product.

The problem with a pressure cooker is that it retains moisture which would 
effect the quality of the crust and crumb of bread.  It's an interesting 
idea that might just work for some kinds of bake goods.


> Shoshanna said:
> <<< I'll see if I can lighten it up some and I'll post my success or 
> failure
> whichever it is.  At over a mile up yeast does some strange stuff so who
> knows! >>>
> You mentioned this before in another message as well but you also 
> mentioned that it was dry? cool? there also as well and I was  wondering 
> if it was the dryness or the altitude which was bothering  the yeasts. 
> Does starting with more yeast not solve this problem? Or  is it less that 
> the yeast aren't multiplying but that they don't put  out as much CO2? 
> Bear, other bakers? any comments? I might have  thought that the lower air 
> pressure might make the generated CO2 go  further and puff up the bread 
> more.
> For many other dishes I guess you can solve things by using a  pressure 
> cooker, but I guess that doesn't work for baking...
> Stefan

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