High Altitude Bread Machine Disasters

Anyone who lives on the California coast, and loves to bake, is spoiled rotten. I know, I used to be one of those lucky bakers.

When we lived in Eureka, I could whip up a sourdough starter in my sleep, and my French bread would taste better than almost anything I could buy at a bakery. I could follow recipes to the letter, and rarely would anything go wrong.

But then we moved on up in the world . . . to 8400′, and my breadmaking talents went to hell.

I tried using that expensive high altitude flour, and adding vital wheat gluten. I followed some high altitude baking tips, cut back on the yeast and salt, and added more liquid.Bread Machine Recipe Book

But bread baking tips are all anyone can give. High altitude baking is nothing but a big science experiment. I had a few successes while we were at our new house, but most of the time, my bread ended up looking like an exploded volcano.

Anyone have any high altitude bread baking tips you’d care to add?

7 thoughts on “High Altitude Bread Machine Disasters”

  1. Sorry to hear that Rene.
    no tips from me, I was not baking when I lived in Tahoe.

    But since I am still living at sea level here in CA, I wondered if you could send that “I could whip up a sourdough starter in my sleep, and my French bread would taste better than almost anything I could buy at a bakery” recipe to me, my bread machine is just collecting dust.


  2. I can certainly relate. Baking in this high altitude has been the biggest challenge for me. I don’t use a bread machine, but I’ve had some less than ideal loaves of bread and muffins come out of the oven! And don’t even get me started on the pralines I tried to make for Christmas presents our first year!

    I have some tips on my fridge that I clipped out of the newspaper, and I try to refer to those when I bake. Maybe they will be helpful to you…

    *Increase each cup of flour by 1 tablespoon.
    *Add an additional egg to rich cakes to prevent falling.
    *For each teaspon of baking soda or powder decrease by 1/8-1/4 tsp.
    *For each cup of fat, decrease by 1-2 tablespoons.
    *For each cup of sugar, decrease by 1-2 tablespoons.
    *For each cup of liquid, increase by 2-4 tablespoons.
    *Increase the baking temp 15-25 degrees to set the batter before cells formed by leavening gas expand too much (this means you may need to decrease your total baking time).

    All adjustments may not be necessary. It takes trial and error and a lot of patience. Good luck!

    Kim, will you be moving to Colorado too?

    • Thanks for the tips Lilla! What I noticed was that when I use my bread machine, it tends to have more drastic reactions to altitude. When I make bread by hand, it’s not as explosive, but it also tends to be more dense. I still haven’t found a happy or tasty medium.

    • Ascetics…well, if I’m going to be living a life without decent homemade bread up there, it might as well apply to me.

      Well, after it exploded, I took it out and finished it off in the oven to see if I could save it. It was rather yeasty. I baked it and used it for croutons because I’m frugal that way.


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