|SLCC Cooking Club|
High Altitude Cooking
One of the biggest cooking debates in Serene Lakes is how to adjust for high altitude cooking.
Inquiring minds want to know, and here are a few tips that I’ve discovered through trial and error as well as some research I’ve conducted… Of course, they are debatable.
Before we get to the tips, what exactly is the difference?
·Boiling point. Water and other liquids evaporate faster and boil at lower temperatures. Hence, liquids boil at 212 degrees F at sea level and at Serene Lakes at about 198 degrees F. General rule, for every 500 feet of ascent, the boiling point is lowered by 1 degrees F. Wow, if that’s true, does that mean we get "hotter" the further we go up in elevation…
·Gases expand at higher altitudes. For example, leavening gases in breads and cakes expand more. Another analogy we can relate to, if you fly or come up to Serene Lakes, the gases in your body, in particular your stomach, expands. Hence, it needs to be expelled. Use your imagination as to how it’s done?
·Cooking utensils. For some reason, foods cooked at high altitude sticks to cooking pans. My guess is that since pressure is lower, the closer you get to heat source, the hotter it is and liquid heats quicker at the heat source, which could also potentially burn quicker. The liquid temperature is not evenly distributed. I’ve discovered non-stick surfaces work well. I’m not fond of Teflon, but Circulon makes a wonderful product.
Another trick, get rid of those double boilers. General rule, over 5000 feet above sea level, double boilers are not high enough to gelatinize starch. Be brave, use direct heat.
·Longer cooking time. Have you noticed when you cook pasta or any starch it seems to take forever. You literally can go to Truckee, get a paper, read it, come back, and it’s still cooking (a little exaggeration, but you get the point). To compensate use about 20% more liquid to counterbalance the quick evaporation. Another trick I’ve learned, if you’re cooking a dish that requires rice, e.g., Paella, pre-cook the rice to "al dente" stage, than incorporate in the dish and cook til done.
·Quick rise. Breads and cakes rise rapidly. It sounds great, almost like a Viagra commercial, "quick rise." Only problem, it may rise quicker, but it isn’t quite cooked; hence, you tend to cook it longer and it dries out. Remember those quick gas expansions I mentioned above, a good solution would be to reduce the ‘proofing’ time. Another solution is to increase the temperature in your oven by 25 degrees F, and also reduce baking time by 20%. And, when using liquids, use cold water, it gives your baking goods strength. We do want them to ‘bake up’ tall and strong…
For recipes using Baking Powder: Break your baking rule. Forget room temperature anything, use cold eggs, and don’t over beat the eggs. Cold eggs have more substance and strength, and not over beating minimizes the air. Remember the gas rule above. Also, decrease the amount of the baking powder slightly, typically by ¼. No adjustments are needed when using yeast. However, if you’re using eggs/yolks in e.g., tiramisu, beat the hell out of those eggs, you want gas, I mean air in your eggs.
General rule for Serene Lakes "attitude":
I have also discovered something even simpler, if you can afford it, get a convention oven. The constant circulation of the heat seems to stabilize the pressure a bit. When using a convention oven, I do not alter the recipe.
Hope these tips and tricks help. Remember the famous quote, "The way to a man/woman’s heart is through their stomach…" minus the gas!
|Copyright Serene Lakes Property Owners Association, 2006|