How To Adjust Yeast Bread Recipes for High Altitude
Who doesn’t love the smell of bread baking in the oven? It evokes a feeling of comfort, coziness, and well‐being. From a hearty, wholegrain loaf to buttery, rich croissants or tender biscuits to tasty scones, we all have our weaknesses — I mean, our preferences!
Also Read: Troubleshooting: Ultimate Guide To Fixing Bread Machine
High altitude bread baking doesn’t have to be hard, time consuming, or tricky. Once you learn the basics, you can use your new found knowledge to bake all kinds of breads — yeast breads, quick breads, sweet breads, and savory breads.
Following are some basic adjustments for both yeast breads and quick breads. The key is to keep a baking journal so you will know which adjustments work best for your location. And keep practicing!
1) Decrease the amount of white flour in the recipe. You may need to use up to 1/4 less flour than the recipe calls for because flour loses moisture at high altitude which creates a dry‐tasting finished product. You’ll know there is enough moisture your high altitude bread dough when the mass pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Suggestion: Gradually add flour 1 tbsp. at a time if the batter is too wet or sticky
2) Increase the amount of liquid in the recipe if using wheat or rye flour. Add 1 tbsp. or more than the recipe calls for. These coarse flours lose even more moisture than white flour does at altitude.
3) Add additional liquid, 1 tbsp. at a time, if the dough seems too dry. Your dough should be soft, moist and pull away from the sides of the bowl after re‐kneading.
4) Add an additional rising cycle. Good tasting bread depends on a long, slow rising process but bread dough rises as much as 25% to 50% faster in high altitude locations. Bread dough that rises rapidly will have a strong yeast‐flavor and a dry texture. For the best flavor, allow enough time for 2 separate rising cycles and never let the dough rise more than twice its size each time.
Suggestion: Reduce the amount of rising time the recipe calls for by about 15 minutes or until the bread has reached nearly twice its size.
Punch down your dough after the first rising cycle is over. Set into a bowl and allow it to rise again but for half the time of the first cycle.
5) Subtract 1 degree of baking temperature for every 500 feet above sea level. At altitude, heat molecules don’t have enough energy inside them which results in a lower boiling point but also makes food take longer to cook. Baking at a higher temperature will set the bread structure quickly and stop dough from rising more.
6) Use less yeast if all other altitude baking adjustments fail to provide firm bread dough that doesn’t collapse after rising and baking.
Suggestion: Reduce the yeast by 1/8 tsp. to see if you get a firmer bread dough. If you are unhappy with your finished bread, decrease yeast by another 1/8 tsp. each time you attempt the recipe until you are happy with the finished product.