Baking Bread at High Altitude

breadYeast scares me. When a recipe includes yeast it also includes hours of time until you actually get to eat. Instant gratification is much better. I can go from gathering ingredients for cookies to eating them in less than 1/2 hour. But I understand that many people love the meditative qualities and joy of baking bread. In order to help those bakers out, I have delved into the science of bread baking at high altitude.

According to Taste of Home, “High altitude (over 3,000 feet) affects bread baking because the lower air pressure allows the yeast to rise 25 to 50 percent faster, and the drier air makes the flour drier. If the dough over-rises, the results might be a heavy, dry loaf or misshapen or collapsed loaf.” The lower air pressure and dryness affects all baking but may have a more drastic effect on bread. I would eat a dry chocolate cookie, but dry, leaden bread … never!

Cultures for Health includes other specifics that affect high altitude bread baking, including adjustments to time. Increasing baking time is important. “The amount of extra time depends on the exact elevation. The easiest way to judge when a loaf of bread is finished baking is to use a thin-tipped instant-read thermometer inserted into the bottom of the loaf. A temperature of 195°F is a good goal, but temperatures all the way up to 205°F should be fine.”

They mention that proofing time should also be changed. “Rising time decreases as altitude increases. Keep in mind that the longer the rise time, the more complex the flavors will be, usually a desirable goal. Try rising at cooler temperatures and giving the dough a second rise. When the dough has doubled, punch it down and let it double again.”

These all seem like good tips to ensure a beautiful loaf of bread. I’ll stick with quick breads for now, but I’m hoping my favorite taste tester can use these recipes to create his perfect cinnamon roll. I look forward to being his taste tester.

Chocolate Chip Mini Cupcakes

chocolate chip cupcakesIt seems that when I bake cupcakes they are always chocolate. It’s kind of the norm. So when I decided to make cupcakes this week, I went in search of a vanilla cupcake recipe. What I found was a recipe for cupcakes with chocolate chips and knew it would be perfect.

To adapt for high altitude I added milk and a little flour. I then reduced baking powder and oil. They were already vegan so that was simple, but I did add more chocolate chips and a drizzle so they wouldn’t seem too un-chocolatey. They weren’t the usual, but they were pretty good.

Chocolate Chip Mini Cupcakes adapted from Vegan Chocolate
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup + 2 tsp almond milk
1/2 cup + 1 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1 TBS whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup + 1 tsp organic sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup less 1 tsp canola oil
1 TBS vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini vegan chocolate chips, divided
melted chocolate for decoration
Position a rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 350F. Line a mini cupcake tin with paper liners. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and milk. Set aside for 10 minutes to clabber. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to strainer. Stir with a whisk to sift ingredients into bowl. (If any small bits remain in strainer, add them to bowl.) Whisk to aerate the mixture. Whisk oil and vanilla into clabbered milk. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until batter is smooth. Stir half the chocolate chips into batter.
Divide batter evenly between cups, filling each halfway full. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top of batter, dividing evenly between cups. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Cool tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Lift cupcakes onto rack to cool completely. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Refrigerate cupcakes in a covered container for up to two days. Makes 28-30 mini cupcakes.

Until next time, happy baking!

Peanut Butter Jam Mookies

peanut butter jam mookiesSometimes when I am searching for a baking recipe, I base it solely on an ingredient in my arsenal. I recently got Coconut Sugar from Navitas Naturals so that became my inspiration for this week. Upon scouring my cookbook collection, I found a cookie recipe that suggested coconut sugar as a swap for dark brown sugar.

The recipe was already vegan so that part was accomplished. For altitude I had but to slightly reduce the amount of sugar and oil. I also chose to add jam on top to complement the peanut butter flavor. What I discovered after they baked was that they rose quite more than expected, especially as they were baked at high altitude. The cookbook describes them as a cookie, but I am inclined to see them as a marriage between a cookie and a muffin. That brings me to my new breakfast creation – the muffin-cookie, or mookie.

Peanut Butter Jam Mookies based on Crunchy Nutty Peanut Butter Hemp Cookies
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
scant 1/3 cup refined coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup Navitas Naturals coconut sugar
1/4 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup plain hemp protein powder
3/4 tsp salt
several TBS jam
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly oil a standard muffin tin. In a stand mixer, beat together peanut butter, coconut oil, sugars, milk, and vanilla until smooth. In a bowl, whisk together oats, flours, protein powder, and salt. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a spatula. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Use a spoon to make an indent in the top of each and put jam in the indents. Bake for 14-17 minutes, or until firm. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack in the muffin tin. Store in a loosely covered container. Makes 12 hearty mookies.

Until next time, happy baking!

Strawberry Champagne Celebration Cupcakes

strawberry champagne chocolate cupcakes

strawberry champagne chocolate cupcakes

For my New Year’s Eve Celebration I had to come up with something special. Something chocolate. And champagne. And strawberry. I saw pipette kits for infusing cupcakes with liquid and knew I had my solution. I just had to bring it all together.

My standby chocolate cupcake recipe was the base so I didn’t need to make adjustments there. I added powdered dried strawberries to the frosting to complement the champagne that would be imbued into the cupcakes. I now had a decadent dessert worthy of ringing in the New Year. Happy and Decadent 2017 to all!

Strawberry Champagne Celebration Cupcakes
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup organic sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 TBS all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Navitas Naturals cacao powder
generous 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
3 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
1 TBS powdered freeze dried strawberries (I used Just Strawberries)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk
For Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-cupcake pan with paper liners. Whisk together the milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla to the milk mixture and beat until foamy.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat just until no large lumps remain. Pour evenly into liners, filling three-quarters of the way. Bake 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.
For Frosting: Beat shortening and margarine together until well combined and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Add dried strawberries, vanilla and milk and beat for another 5-7 minutes until fluffy.
For Decorating: Frost cooled cupcakes. Dip pipettes into champagne and draw some liquid up into the bulbs. Insert pipettes into cupcakes without squeezing; you will squeeze them just before eating.

Until next time, happy baking!