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Thursday, November 29, 2012

High Altitude Baking-Pie in the Sky by Susan G. Purdy

The first chocolate chip cookies I baked here at the ranch were a dismal failure: flat, spread out, and strangely bland tasting. We live at an altitude of over 7000 ft. and I knew there were ways to change ingredients and baking times to ensure cookie success, but it was hit and miss, mostly miss.

Baking brownies was inconsistent, too, with some pans coming out perfectly and the next time a gooey mess. I used high altitude techniques, but they didn't always work.

Enter the book Pie in the Sky by Susan Purdy, a book prized by several of my quilty buddies who live up here, too.

I stumbled upon the recipes while searching the internet for an apple cake I could bake at a high altitude. I found this blog post, tried the recipe, and it worked! The cake was flavorful, had risen properly and wasn't gummy or gooey in the middle. But, and here's a big ol' but, I had used whole wheat pastry flour instead of regular white flour, so the consistency was kind of like sawdust. It wasn't the recipe's fault, just the goofball who decided to substitute a key ingredient.

So I bought the book and have tried a couple recipes so far: the Aspen Apple Cake which had been grainy made with my whole wheat substitution was moist and cake-like when the proper flour was used.

For Thanksgiving MBB made the 1-2-3-4 Cake, a white cake to which she added walnuts and chocolate frosting, and it was a hit.

Author Susan Purdy researched and experimented at various elevations while developing these recipes. I always thought high altitude baking was the same at 3000 feet as it is at 7000 feet. Nope. Purdy has recipes and directions for sea level, 3,000, 5,000, 7,000, and even 10,000 feet (ah....our Mogollon Baldy lookout job would have been muy different if this book had been there). There are tweaks of ingredients, temperatures, pan prep, equipment, even where the oven rack goes, specific to how high you are (that was a little big of a joke....sorry). Nothing has been left to chance.

In addition to cakes, there are recipes for cookies, pies, breads, souffles, quick breads and muffins: anything I might need to bake with no guesswork involved. My only quibble is about the food photos. There are not enough of them, just a few in the center of the book.  In case you wondered, I was not paid to write this review. I just liked the book.

Hmmm....this cake looks pretty good.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Looks like you've found a gold mine of information for your new altitude. It does take some adjustment. I grew up at 5,550 feet and we we constantly adjusting. One thing I did learn from my baker dad is to never give up!


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