Say you’re on vacation with your family. Say you’re in Denver. Say you rented a big Airbnb, where you all can cook and bake and stay up late watching movies. Say you want brownies; now everyone wants brownies, so you make your favorite recipe—but it turns out different. Why?
Because you’re a mile above sea level.
Today, we’re making sure no batch of brownies (or cupcakes or cookies) gets botched again. Enter: our handy guide on how to convert a baking recipe for high altitude. Let’s dive in. Or should I say climb up?
If you’re at an altitude of at least 3,500 feet above sea level, you may need to adjust sea level–developed recipes accordingly. That said, as Colorado State University notes, “Do not assume that your sea level recipe will fail. Try it first. It may need little or no modification.” And when do you experiment with adaptations, start small, then gradually increase as needed.
It all comes down to air pressure. The higher a geographical location is above sea level, the less air pressure there is. The less air pressure there is, the more variances you’ll notice in cooking and baking, compared to the assumptions in most cookbooks and online recipes. For example, everyone knows that water boils at 212°F, right? At sea level, yes. At 7,500 feet above sea level, however, water boils at 198°F (“because there’s not as much air pressure to inhibit the boiling action,” according to The New Food Lover’s Companion).
Bonus recommendations for baked goods at high altitude:
Now that we’ve learned the basics, let’s explore some examples. Below are three favorite baked good recipes from the site—let’s figure out how to convert them for high altitude.