The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello From My High Altitude Kitchen

Bakenstein's picture

Hello From My High Altitude Kitchen

I am once again working on my bread baking skills. But this time the big difference is Altitude-5500ft above sea level. Now that I've found this fantastic web site I would appreciate any info how to adjust your recipes accordingly.
I have been going over and over why my attempts at Floyd's Italian and Ciabata Breads came out too dense and cakelike and the only conclusion I think would be an altitude factor.
I like to cook and bake Italian breads,pastries, and regional dishes from our family's
Albanese heritage. I hope to share some of these in the near future.
Next attempt Zaatar Flatbread!

scarlett75's picture

If my memory of physics is correct, your altitude shouldn't result in a denser loaf,...*thinks*

Your higher altitude means less air pressure- so your loaves probably rise faster and experience more oven-spring. But, they also collapse, if you're not careful with your leavening agents (salts, baking sodas, baking powders, etc.,.), the structure of your bread might collapse in upon itself during the final minutes of baking (once all of the gases have been expended by the yeast). At your altitude, you'll probably have to play around with lowering the temperature of your oven a touch (to try and even out that fast rise). Try giving the yeast less "food" by cutting the sugar back significantly on some of the recipes. You also might want to add an extra, gentle degassing (VERY GENTLE) just before baking. Also, your breads are going to expend their moisture faster than someone at sea level. So, you might want to make your dough a little "wetter" than normal. Not too much, but play around with it and see what happens. :)

Bakenstein's picture

Thanks so much for the imput. Regarding the lowering of oven temp. definitely a clue because I've found that when baking cakes (which are usually quite large 2X or 3X recipe) the middle will sink down so a 25 degree reduction usually helps. Yeast leavened products are where my problems occur.
Moisture is very important too as flours tend to be very dry to begin with (High Desert+Altitude). Adding even extra is possible but presents even more handling challenges, an area where I can use some advice especially where holding the shape of the bread after forming and getting it into the oven successfully.
Just gone over a pizza dough recipe that I've been using with good success and it has half the salt and half the the yeast of Floyd's "A Pizza Primer's Recipe". Interesting but will it work to halve in the much larger loaves with their longer baking times?

Floydm's picture

From her Bread Bible:

  • Fermentation happens quicker, so reduce rising time significantly, as much as by half.
  • Reduce yeast by 1/2 teaspoon for every tablespoon included in a recipe if you are over 3,000 feet.
  • Increase oven temp by 25 degrees to compensate for faster rising in the oven and slower heating.
  • For each cup of flour, increase the amount of water by 1 tablespoon over 3,000 feet, 2 to 3 tablespoons at 5,000 feet, and 3 to 4 tablespoons at 7,000 feet. This makes up for the dryness of the flour and the air.
  • For each cup of sugar, reduce the amount by 1 tablespoon at 3,000 feet, 2 to 3 tablespoons at 5,000 feet, and 3 to 4 tablespoons at 7,000 feet.
  • For each cup of flour, increase the amount of flour by 1 tablespoon at 3,000 feet, 2 to 3 tablespoons at 5,000 feet, and 3 to 4 tablespoons at 7,000 feet. Store your flour in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out so quickly.

Good luck!

Bakenstein's picture

I will try these adjustments in my future baking adventures.

Cutting the rising time by half is a definite plus!