The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Altitude

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sadears's picture
sadears

Altitude

I live in Colorado (altitude about 6500 ft).  Anything I need to know about baking bread up here?

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

Hi I'm not suggestion you stop posting here but there's a few of us that run a yahoo group. Mike lives up there in the clouds too. He bakes great bread. No probs as far as I can make out. 
Bakers Anonymous

Jim

sadears's picture
sadears

Stephanie.  I'll check it out.  Some sites I've looked at said that bread rises faster at higher altitude.  Mmm.

sewwhatsports's picture
sewwhatsports

Something else that is different is the hydration.  You often need more liquid or less flour to maintain the proper hydration of the dough.  One of my friends on the Kitchenaid forum is from Colorado and talks about the need for less flour.

Rena in Delaware

sadears's picture
sadears

I read somewhere that less flour was required and by golly I did use less.  My loaves are in the oven.  They're flat...guess I did something wrong.  We'll see how they bake up.

Thanks,

Steph

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng


I would first ignore the altitude and look for more usual causes for your failures. Since we know you can make good bread higher up.Post your recipe to us then we can help you better. If you use cups and you have access to scales weigh a cup of flour for us. A cup measurement can vary considerably depending how you do it. Some say 120g some 200g I get 155g when I take care to shake and level. Do you use yeast or natural leaven? If you use nl how do you feed it, how much, how often? All these things can affect the rise.
Jim

sadears's picture
sadears

Jim,

 

I've been using cups to measure.  I have a scale.  Should I measure everything with a scale?  The recipe I used is:

2 c proofed starter

3 c flour

2 tbls olive oil

3 tsp sugar

2 tsp salt

 

I used about half of the flour.  I think my problem was my starter wasn't ready.  Now that the storm is over, I'm going to the store and buy more flour, as well as rye and wheat.  Also going to buy regular yeast, just to see if I can make a loaf that way while I'm waiting for my starter to be ready.  If that doesn't work, it wasn't all the starter's fault.  However, now that I look back, I see I wasn't dumping half of it when I fed it.  Like so many other posts I've read, I loath dumping food, but I've been doing that lately, so we'll see.

 

Oh, by the way, a lot of people name their starters.  I hadn't planned on it, but if I were to name it, I would call it Pokie, since it's sooooo slow ;-D

 

Thanks for your support.

Steph

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I would suggest that you try a digital scale for baking at altitude - it would tend to compensate for the variation in flour moisure that you will experience compared to the cookbook authors - most of whom are located at sea level in either New York or California.

 

Rose Levy Bearanbaum's _The Bread Bible_ has an excellent chart in the back giving the weights of 1 cup for various flours and ingredients.

 

sPh

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

Hi Steph,

You're welcome here's a few pix I uploaded. I think I've covered every stage of non activity here except perhaps an old one with hooch but I'm sure you can work that one out. The ones that have 'hooch' on the bottom or middle smell like vomit and have leuconostoc, they came round in the end though. 

 

Inactive1

Inactive2

Inactive3

Inactive4

Inactive5

Active1

Almost Active

Active2

Active3

 

Jim

sadears's picture
sadears

Jim,

 

That last one was a good one.  Wow.  Okay.  The stuff I used in my failures looked like the inactive pics.  It helps to see before and after.  Thanks so much.  I'm clear on how it needs to look now.  I don't want bubbles, I want BUBBLES. ;-D

 

I'll just keep feeding it a couple/three times a day.  What more do I have to do during the day but clean my house and look for a job ;-( 

 

You mentioned putting rye or wheat in there.  How much and will it change the flavor of the bread?  I'm guessing the purpose is to boost the action?

 

Steph

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

Hi Steph, it isn't always easy to tell just from looking when the starter is in between, there's one that I've now said was inactive but at the time was just a feed away so I called it active. Now though not having made a starter for while I think it's quit clear when the starter is active. You can easily fool yourself into thinking it is. You want it to be so much.  I use Rye and Wheat to make a starter from scratch because it works better. Why, well, a lab in the uk did some tests and found that the rye was a good source of lb's the wheat contained yeast so together they work well. I did try making a starter just from rye but it just smelled of vinegar for over a week so as I really didn't need a start I chucked it.

Jim

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng

HI Steph,

did you forget the water?


I tried to punch those figures into one of my sheets but I could only get it close to a 40% hydration loaf, I'm assuming your starter is equal weights of flour and water though. If this is the case you need to add more water.



starter 480g

flour 375g

water 160g

oil 30g

salt 10g

sugar 10g

total1065


Try this one Steph. The total proofing time should be about 7 hours at 18 C but use your judgement as starters can vary.

Jim
sadears's picture
sadears

I thought it odd as well, but I figured if I did the starter right, the water in there was enough.  The original texture felt right (a novice's opinion) so I think it was that the starter wasn't ready.

 

Also, I've seen a lot of recipes that don't call for sugar.  Is it not needed?  If it's not, I'd rather leave it out.

 

Steph

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng


Hi Steph,

no, I never use sugar, if you use sourdough or active dry yeast you don't need sugar, the only thing you might need sugar for is the type of yeast you have to activate in water first. If you don't use that don't put it in your bread unless it's supposed to be a sweet dough of course. But even then I think there's better alternatives. 
Jim

sadears's picture
sadears

Interesting.  The recipe is posted earlier had sugar and starter.  MMmmm

jm_chng's picture
jm_chng


Yes, I put sugar in there because it was your recipe tweaked a bit to up the hydration to something normal. I don't use it nor do I use oil. I leave that choice to you. Bread recipes are so over rated. It's more appropriate to call them formulae. I always feel embarrassed using the word recipe. It implies way more than it really is.
Jim