Tips for Baking Cookies at High Altitude
Cookie recipes typically work well in all altitudes below about 7,000 ft. However, they can still sometimes spread out too thin, or end up with a tough or even rock-hard texture. Try one or more of these suggestions when baking cookies at very high altitudes.
Reduce sugar. Reducing the sugar in a recipe helps give the protein in flour greater control over the overall structure of the cookies. Reduce by one to four tablespoons, depending on altitude, and you will hardly be able to tell any difference in taste.
Reduce fats. Reducing the fat in a recipe has a similar effect as reducing the sugar. Fats, like oil and butter, weaken the gluten in flour, helping to create a more tender product. However, high altitudes cause increased moisture loss, which concentrates the fat and weakens the overall structure. Reducing it can help retain structural strength.
Increase flour. As with cakes, slightly increasing the flour in a recipe can help to improve the structure of a cookie and help prevent it from sinking too much. Increase flour only one to four tablespoons, depending on the elevation.
Increase liquid. Increasing the liquid may also help, since high altitudes make liquid evaporate more quickly and can dry out the flour. Do not go too far, though, since too much liquid can result in creating a tough cookie—and not in a good way.
Increase oven temperature. Sometimes cookies just need a slight increase in baking temperature, only 15 to 25°F.
Another tip for baking the perfect cookies wherever you are, is to make sure you place the cookies on a cool baking sheet. If the baking sheet is hot from a previous batch of cookies, the cookie dough will spread out too much during baking, resulting in flat, crunchy cookies. It also helps to use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar, if the recipe calls for it. Textures and consistency are key when baking at altitude.
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