I just finished baking a chocolate orange loaf cake. I pulled it out of the oven to discover a giant crater in the center of it. It smells wonderful and I am sure it will taste fine, but I'm testing the recipe for a bridal shower in a couple of weeks and don't want to serve a crater cake! A quick run-down of ingredients: butter, dark corn syrup, brown sugar, eggs, flour, cocoa, baking soda, orange zest, orange juice and eggs.

Also, I live in Denver (high altitude) and it's 40 degrees and pouring outside. Would the weather affect my baking that much? How do I control that environment? I attached a picture if that helps anyone suss out my situation better.

Thank you!

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innoabrd October 26, 2010
If you don't have it, you might pick up a copy of Colorado Cache. It is a junior league cookbook put together ages ago (probably 30 years ago?) and still in print. Has some good high altitude baking tips in general and all of the recipes are tested at high altitude.

There are several other successor books, but Calorado Cache remains a classic!
betteirene October 26, 2010
I live at sea level in Washington State, and the 30-year-old recipe I have for Hershey brownies came out looking exactly like your photo. We called them "Caldera Brownies." My sons never cared what it looked like, they loved this brownie. The recipe fills an 8"x8" pan, and I tweaked it by reducing the baking soda (or baking powder) by 1/16 (a pinch) and adding an additional tablespoon of flour, and poof! no more caldera. Even better, the taste wasn't affected one bit.
Christina W. October 25, 2010
Everyone is so timely with such great info. I was going to suggest what Donny just said. I've had to make similar adjustments even in slight elevations. Good luck.
anyone October 25, 2010
Just to add to the discussion, it looks like it might have been pulled too early or didn't set as mrslarkin point out. In addition to the recommendations I would also put a oven thermometer in your oven or a digital read out probe in to see what the actual temp of the oven is compared to what the recipe temp calls for. Also, I'm guessing this happened during cooling and that if the edges were cooked but still not cooked in the center at that point you can turn the oven down and continue for a little longer but don't dry it out. Due to the altitude it may be as simple as extending the cooking time a bit.
mrslarkin October 25, 2010
Could be having problems for many reasons, but high altitude might be the biggest. I have read that a higher-protein flour, like King Arthur, or a bread flour is better for high altitudes. Don't use Dutch Process cocoa - you need the acidity to set the cake. And careful with the amount of liquid - you might have a bit too much. It would seem like you'd be better off increasing the liquid due to the dry air, but Beranbaum says the opposite is true: http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2005/12/amish_friendship_bread_at_high.html

And check out Susan Purdy's book Pie In The Sky for great help: http://www.amazon.com/Pie-Successful-Baking-High-Altitudes/dp/0060522585/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1288029113&sr=1-1

Good luck!
Sadassa_Ulna October 25, 2010
Did you cut into it? Is is fully cooked in the center? It sounds delicious! Joy of Cooking has a high altitude gingerbread recipe that says to reduce baking soda by 1/4 tsp. if baking at 7500 ft., and reduce by 1/2 tsp. if baking at 10,000 ft. The recipe starts out with 3/4 tsp. baking soda per 2+1/3 cups flour for baking at 5000 ft. Maybe decrease the baking soda?
AntoniaJames October 25, 2010
Here is the link to the prior discussion on foodpickle. I see that the link there is for the book.


The Fresh Loaf altitude blog mentioned in one of the two other foodpickle threads seems very helpful for baking bread, but probably won't be much help for trouble shooting the cake.

Try this one: Rose Levy Beranbaum is the real deal. http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2007/12/high_altitude_on_the_forums.html

On one of the other foodpickle threads, I copied and pasted some rules of thumb from my oven's manual. You might want to check your own manual to see if there is anything in there, as well. Have fun!! ;o)
liamoran October 25, 2010
Thanks Antonia...I didn't get the link? Can you post it again?
AntoniaJames October 25, 2010
The altitude is a much greater factor than the weather, especially in your case, where you are up so high. There is another thread here on foodpickle about the effect of altitude on baking, which you should consult. I included a link to a site with a lot of helpful information; I also provided the title/author of a book recommended by someone in Deer Valley, which at an altitude that's just a bit less than yours. Good luck!! ;o)
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