Reference: High Altitude Baking Adjustments

Aside

We live in Colorado at about 5300 feet altitude. Below are the guidelines I have gathered over the years to help me convert a recipe for sea-level so that a cake will not fall when baked in my oven. I don’t always use all of these methods in a recipe; I try a few of them and make notes for the next time I make it.

  • increase baking temperature by 25˚
  • use 1/8-1/4 teaspoon less leavening – baking powder or baking soda – for each teaspoon called for in the recipe
  • fill pans no more than 1/2 full
  • use 2 tablespoons less sugar per cup
  • increase liquid by 2-4 tablespoons per cup
  • do not overbeat the eggs
  • decrease shortening in very rich cakes (Baker’s Chocolate and Coconut Favorites)
  • increase the eggs in angel food or sponge cakes (Baker’s Chocolate and Coconut Favorites)

Cookie Recipe Basics

Aside

Cookie Recipe Basics

Shortenings

In all of my cookie recipes, do not substitute one type of shortening for another. If it says “margarine”, do not use butter. If it says “vegetable shortening”, do not use margarine. I can’t guarantee a recipe will work if shortening substitutions are made. In general, I am not a fan of margarine, but if you are going to make cookies, you want them to turn out as good cookies.

Mixing batter

Most drop cookie batters begin with mixing the shortening and sugar, and then adding eggs. I always use a stand mixer and beat the shortening and sugar on high until fluffy,  lower the speed to crack in the eggs, and beat again blend on high until fluffy. Then, add the combined dry ingredients and mix only until they are all mixed in.

Flour

Unless otherwise stated, I use unbleached all-purpose flour for cookies. I always measure flour for cookies by dipping a measuring cup into a large canister of flour and shaking it level. This isn’t the most scientific or re-producible method, but that’s what I do. Occasionally I’ll add a little more flour to a batter if the first pan of cookies flattens out too much.

Mixing dry ingredients

I don’t sift. I do mix with a spoon the flour and other dry ingredients (baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices) in a bowl. I use all purpose flour.

Melting chocolate

I often use the microwave. I use the high setting and check and stir every half a minute. If melting chocolate with butter or margarine, it’s often more convenient to use a pan on the stove top.

Miscellaneous ingredients

Use real chocolate chips and real vanilla.

Baking

Many of my older recipes state to bake either on greased or ungreased baking sheets. Today (2012), I bake all cookies on parchment lined half sheet pans. I haven’t re-made some of the older recipes, so some of the greased/ungreased nomenclature may be included in the recipes. It actually can make a difference in how the cookies “bake up”, meaning, how much they spread out as they bake.

And always preheat your oven before putting in the cookies.

Beef doneness temperatures

Aside

I use the chart on page 70 of my Weber’s Real Grilling (2005) cookbook:

rare 120-125˚ F (USDA recommends not cooking meat this rare)
medium-rare 125-135˚ F (USDA recommends 145˚ F)
medium 135-145˚ (USDA recommends 160˚ F)
medium-well 145-155˚ F
well-done 155˚ F + (USDA recommends 170˚ F)

The lower values are “chef standards”. The USDA does not agree, so use these lower values at your own risk. The chef standards listed above agree with several of my other grilling cookbooks.