The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

High-altitude baking

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PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

High-altitude baking

First off, a big thank you to the many contributors at TFL who provided me with some much-needed guidance on high-altitude baking.


My wife and I are at our daughter's home in Colorado Springs this week.  Our daughter and son-in-law just had their first baby, a daughter, on Monday.  Whee!  That evens the tally at one grandson and one granddaughter.


As part of my contribution to the overall effort (not that there's a lot for Grandpa to do, besides beam delightedly or put things together), I've been baking bread; some for immediate consumption and some for their freezer.  Since the Springs are at about 6200 feet elevation, and since I have no prior experience with baking at this elevation, one of the first things I did was comb through earlier posts on TFL that talked about baking at higher elevations.  Armed with that information, I've turned out scones, honey whole wheat bread and blueberry braid (the latter two from recipes here on TFL) with great success.  Not sure what's next on the menu, but I have the information I need to do it right.


Thanks again for the information, experience and wisdom about baking that is available at TFL.


Paul

Barkalounger's picture
Barkalounger

I'm in the Springs as well, and I've found that yeast breads require very little adjustment compared to other baked goods. Now, this may be because I add my final four based on feel when I'm baking bread -- maybe I'm adding more and don't know it! -- but I certainly don't make any conscious adjustments due to altitude.


P.S., make sure you drink plenty of water!

Susan's picture
Susan

Where's a photo of that new grandgirl next to a loaf of bread? 


Barkalounger gave you good advice.  I make no changes to my sourdough in Prescott, AZ, at close to 5,800 feet, at least in winter.  In summer I add just a little more water. Do heed the P.S. and drink lots of water--more than you think you need.  And be careful with celebratory alcohol.


Susan from San Diego (Sea Level)

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Thanks, Barkalounger and Susan.  What a sweet idea for a photograph!  Little miss Carmen wouldn't be in the mood just now--she's receiving a bath and not liking it one bit.  Maybe in the morning, though . . .  There's fresh-baked cinnamon swirl bread for her to model.


The general tips I've been employing are higher hydration for the dough, less leavening, and higher temperature for baking.  And it is working well so far.


I definitely feel the need for more water and emollients.  Celebrations so far have been more aimed at food than drink, so no overdoing on the alcohol.  Plus our daughter is breast-feeding, which is another reason to stay away from "adult beverages".


Thanks,


Paul

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Paul.


Grandparenthood is everything it's cracked up to be, and then some! I've a 3rd grandchild (2nd grand-daughter) due in January. 


Alcohol may not be a good idea for nursing mothers, as you say, but it's fine for grandfathers - in moderation, of course. 


One of the recent very significant findings that adds to what we already know to be the overwhelming advantages of breast feeding is that breast-fed babies have radically different bowel flora from bottle-fed infants. The flora the breast fed infants gets is more protective against infections. These include lactobacilli, rather than the coliform bacteria that dominate in the bowels of formula feeders. And these differences in bowel flora persist, even after breast feeding has been discontinued.


Okay. So I'm off topic. Hmmmm .... Maybe there's a link to the mother's consumption of sourdough bread.


Anyway, enjoy Carmen!


David

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Continuing in an off-topic vein . . .


While I have heard the merits of breast feeding for infants, yours is the first input that I had seen about lactobacilli dominating coliform bacteria in the breast-fed baby's gut.  Interesting.  If it weren't for the baking process killing off the bacteria and yeasts in bread, it would be tempting to ply the girl with a bit of sourdough. ;-)


Now you've got me curious.  Would there be any probiotic value (for adults, not infants) in consuming raw levain/starter?


We are enjoying the little darling.  Once she figures out that night time is a good time for sleeping, she'll be even more enjoyable.  We have to head home tomorrow but Grandma is already plotting her next trip back.


Paul

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Paul.

The gut flora/breast feeding finding to which I was referring was just recently presented. I don't think it's yet been published. However, there have been other reports published. Here's a link:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12394379?dopt=AbstractPlus

Note: "GG" = gamma globulin. Rotovirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in infants.

Here's another link with a more comprehensive outline of breast feeding and gut flora:

http://www.naba-breastfeeding.org/images/Just%20one.pdf

I don't know why eating levain would be better than any other source of lactobaccilus, e.g., yoghurt.

David

proth5's picture
proth5

I am doing my seasonal baking not so far from you in the Mile High City.  No adjustments to recipes that worked for decades at sea level and still all the results that I remember.


And as I tell my flatlander nephew who is baking with me - drink water and don't forget the sunblock!  :>)


Enjoy your newly enlarged family!


Pat

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Could you check your browser history, grab the links to the high-altitude posts you used, and publish them here as a summary/high-altitude home page?


sPh

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

sPh,


There was one link in particular that consolidates fragmentary information from others, here.


Scroll about half-way down and you will find a note from Floyd that lists information from Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible.  


One other bit of information that I found by Googling "high altitude baking" is that breads and other things rise much more rapidly than they do at lower altitudes.  One tactic recommended for dealing with this is to allow bread doughs two rise/degas cycles before shaping if the recipe calls for one rise and degas before shaping.  You could also use the refrigerator to retard fermentation.  I opted for a series of 3 letter folds at 30-45 minute intervals to partially degas the dough and strengthen the gluten, which seemed to be effective.


Oven spring, compared to my experiences at lower altitudes, is quite imressive, even in panned breads.


Please understand that I'm a high-altitude novice who is experiencing some beginner's luck.  Others posting here have years of experience and can give much better input than can I.


Paul