The smell of chocolate cake baking in the oven is filled with anticipation. Leading to a forkful of deliciousness.
But after whipped the eggs, measuring the flour then watching it collapse in the oven, anticipation changes to frustration and disappointment. 🙁
The altitude is our nemesis.
I live at 5,200 feet, where the cakes and breads rise faster, cookies run into each other as they spread across the sheet, and pie fillings thicken slower. Blame the air pressure. Like a weight, air pressure impacts how foods react in the oven. As elevation increases, air pressure decreases. So there is less weight on the food.
Baking powder and baking soda cause baked goods to rise. That’s great until the air pressure is so low they overreact. Food rises too fast, before the structure is set, so then collapses. But it’s not just the leaveners. The altitude also dulls flavor so you need more flavor enhancers such as salt, spice and vanilla the farther you are from the sea.
Lower air pressure also impacts the boiling point. Less pressure on the surface of the water means it heats faster. The boiling point of water at sea level is 212°F versus the boiling point at 5,000 feet is 202°F. Those ten degrees means foods take longer to cook in Wyoming than they do in San Diego. Liquids evaporate faster at higher elevations so proteins don’t have sufficient time to set a firm structure. So cookies spread and piecrusts brown before the apples cook.
If you’ve baked in the Rockies, you know what I’m taking about. We’re fortunate if we have one recipe we can depend on.
Now we have one hundred.
Susan Purdy’s Pie in the Sky, Successful Baking at High Altitudes cookbook is a collection of recipes that were home-tested for baking at sea level, 3,000, 5,000, 7,000 and 10,000 feet. Purdy traveled across the country with pans and ingredients in tow to help us figure out how to bake cakes, pies, cookies, breads and pastries no matter where we live. Filled with tips and tools, this is a book I wish I’d found years ago.
Chocolate Cherry Almond Biscotti
Using techniques from Pie in the Sky, I adapted my own Chocolate Cherry Almond Biscotti. Biscotti are a sliced, twice-baked cookie. They are good dunkers. Try milk, wine, coffee, or tea.
These slice and bake – and bake again cookies – are super easy. Roll in a uniform-sized log, so baking times are similar. I bake on a silpat liner to make clean up easier. Course, you don’t want to slice on the silpat, that’s what the cutting board is for! (here are some of the items I use to bake with.)Print
Chocolate Cherry Almond Biscotti
Biscotti are a sliced, twice-baked cookie. They are good dunkers. Try milk, wine, coffee, or tea.
- Prep Time: 30 min
- Cook Time: 45 min
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 40
- ½ cups slivered almonds, toasted
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/3 cup dried cherries
- In a large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula to incorporate butter and sugar. Add eggs, almond extract and vanilla. Beat these until well blended. Add flour mixture and slowly mix all ingredients together. Blend in almonds and cherries.
- Line two baking sheets with silicon liner or lightly spray with cooking spray.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Divide dough in half. If dough is sticky, spread a couple teaspoons of flour on the counter. Place the dough out on the counter. Shape each half of dough into a log about 11-inches long and 2-inches wide. Place logs on cookie sheet, 3–inches apart. Bake 20-25 minutes, until they are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven, transfer log to a cooling rack. Allow to cool about 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Put log on a cutting board and slice across the log into ½-inch pieces. Place cut side up on cookie sheet and bake 15 to 18 minutes more. Cool on cooling rack. Cookies will crisp as they cool. Store in airtight container.
To toast almonds: Spread almonds on a baking sheet. Place in cold oven, turn oven to 350°F. Bake almonds 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven, set aside to cool.
I’m an almond fan. You too? You might like:
Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker, and author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being. Sign up to have every day health solutions delivered to your Inbox. What are you waiting for?