Tuesday, January 1, 2013

How to Fix Common Baking Disasters

Welcome Back to Wacataya Wednesdays.

Perfectly baked Bundt cake

Sunken banana bread. Don't let this happen to you


Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you enjoyed a safe and happy new year's eve celebration. For the new year I want to get everyone off on the right foot in regards to baking at different altitudes and in different climates.

Before one of my visits to Bolivia to visit my sisters-in-law I decided to put together a little hand-made recipe booklet as a gift for them. The booklet contained some of my family's favorite baked treats that my in-laws had enjoyed me making for them over the years. I chose beautiful paper, typed up each recipe with care and hand-bound the booklet with ribbon and decorations.

Once in Bolivia I started to show everyone how to make each of the recipes. The first recipe we tried wasn't baking up with the same results in the same amount of time as it does when I'm in Chicago. We made some adjustments to liquid, oven temperature, fat content and baking time. The results were not perfect but the end product was still delicious. I was more disappointed then my sisters-in-law that the result wasn't identical to the result I had in my Chicago home.

We went on to make the second recipe and once again the liquid, sugar measurement, oven temp and timing just wasn't perfect. The end product was delicious but because I knew how it was supposed to be I considered it a bit of a failure. Friends that joined us that day to sample the items found everything to be wonderfully tasty.

The third recipe was pretty much a failure all around. It was a more delicate chiffon cake that did not do well at the higher altitude.

I had some of the same issues when I tried to reproduce Bolivian baked treats back in Chicago. I now had to adjust a higher altitude recipe to a lower altitude kitchen

Baking is a science. Along with the right combination of ingredients, altitude and climate need to be taken into consideration. We were baking in La Paz, Bolivia, which is a tremendously higher altitude than Chicago and the climate is much drier as well.

Even within Bolivia the altitude and climate changes significantly between the Eastern departments like Santa Cruz, the more central valley region and Western mountains. I realized that I needed to learn more about baking at different altitudes and climates if I wanted to be able to recreate all my baked favorites with equal results everywhere I went.

I went on a mission to learn more about baking at different altitudes and I want to share this information with you.

Each week in January and part of February I will add to this post until each ingredient has been explained in detail.

Baking With Altitude - Flour
Baking With Altitude - Leavening Agents
Baking With Altitude - Fats
Baking With Altitude - Eggs
Baking With Altitde - Sugar

February 13: No post this week

(Life has been busier than usual lately so I need to change some of the post dates. 
2/20 post changed to 3/6 and the summary will be posted on 4/3 not 3/6)
March 6th: Liquids/Dairy
April 3rd: Baking With Altitude Summary

I originally thought I would do seven posts on baking disasters but as you can see so far in these posts its not a simple question of increasing or decreasing ONE item. All the ingredients in baked goods work together. Changing one ingredient may or may not be enough to achieve positive results. I've decided to add a Week 8 post where I bring all the information together in one spot to help you better tackle your baking. I will also talk about temperature and baking time changes in the summary.

Thank you for visiting my blog.

Chef Noly

To order saltenas please visit Noly's World Cuisine at http://www.nolys.vpweb.com
To read more about Bolivia please visit our friend Bella at

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