cupcakes: how to edit your baking recipes for the altitude

Namrata Singh//carrot cake cupcakes and maple cream cheese frosting. 

i finally got around to baking here for the first time for some friends last week. the most exciting part about it was that i visited kadies and found neon pink dusting powder. i used my usual smitten kitchen recipe and they tasted delicious but didn’t look as delectable as they normally do because i was in denial that we live on the highveld and therefore should have adjusted my baking practices according to our altitude. 

Namrata Singh//carrot cake batter

because of the lighter air pressure foods (and my lungs, i can barely run 5 kilometres i can barely run) respond differently than us low altitude dwellers are used to. so, the first thing you need to do is decrease your amount of leavening agents by about 15-25% percent per 5,000 feet. in jozi we are at 5,751 feet so i now take out about a quarter of the baking soda (i.e. take out 1/4 teaspoon for every teaspoon the recipe calls for). you also need to increase the amount of liquid to counter the dryness….add about 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid per cup of flour (note: in baking, eggs do not count as liquid but butter does). the internet also recommends decreasing the amount of sugar by 2 to 3 tablespoons per cup of sugar but i say ‘pshaw’ to that. 

the last recommendation is to raise the cooking temp by 20 degrees F or 11 degrees C (math people i know that 20 degrees F does not equal 11 degrees C in a direct conversion) and slightly shorten the cooking time. i can’t help you with that, you’ll just have to poke your cupcake with toothpicks to figure out exactly when to take them out. 

while they weren’t as lovely of a color or perky as they normally are i was able to hide the imperfections with the heavenly frosting.  and they were absolutely delicious which made up for what they were lacking in looks. and now i hope you can use my misadventure to avoid having one of your own!

ps. for you fellow americans baking soda is called bicarbonate of soda here and confectioners or powdered sugar is called caster sugar and both can be found in the plenty even at the most basic grocery stores (which is not the case for you poor berliners). 

24th october, 2011

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