Author Topic: What does higher altitude do to dough and final crust?  (Read 2597 times)

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Offline bortz

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What does higher altitude do to dough and final crust?
« on: February 23, 2005, 11:56:46 AM »
I'm borrowing my dad's GPS so I can decide if I want to buy one for myself and I noticed my home is at 1200 ft on this GPS.  This got me thinking about my wife's pound cakes, which nobody can make as good as my wife, even when others use her recipe.  Maybe it's an altitude thing?
Does anybody know what effect this higher elevation has on the dough and finished product?

Offline pftaylor

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Re: What does higher altitude do to dough and final crust?
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2005, 12:03:10 PM »
Here's what I found which I trust will be useful:
When yeast feeds on the carbohydrates in the flour, sugar and other ingredients in your dough, the by-product is carbon dioxide. When this carbon dioxide expands in the dough it forms air pockets in the dough and makes the bread rise. The longer and slower this process is, the more complex and sophisticated the taste and texture of the finished bread. The decreased air pressure in high altitudes means that there is less air pressure pushing back against these air pockets, so the bread rises higher and more rapidly than it should. Typically, the dough will rise way up, then collapse during the baking process since the structure of the bread cannot support the volume of dough. Decreasing the amount of yeast by 1/3 to 1/2 will certainly help. Use the best quality instant active yeast (not rapid rise), like Red Star or Saf/Instant. Also, allow the dough to have an additional long, slow rise before it is formed and baked. After the first knead and rise, punch down the dough, place in a large heavy duty zipper plastic bag and refrigerate from 2 - 24 hours. If you are using a bread machine, program for manual and remove the dough after the final cycle. Then the dough can be formed and given a final rise before baking. If you have a programmable machine you can place the dough back in the bread pan, program for "Final Rise" and then "Bake". Don't allow the dough to over-rise during this last proofing - remember that it will rise more during baking.
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Offline Pete-zza

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Re: What does higher altitude do to dough and final crust?
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2005, 12:36:02 PM »

Depending on which expert you listen to, adjustments to your dough and processing aren't usually necessary until you get above 3500-5000 feet. In the U.S., the high altitude baking problem tends to occur most often in Colorado. Outside the U.S., it's certain places in Canada and in places like Mexico City. Where the problem does exist, it is often recommended that the amount of flour be reduced somewhat or the amount of water be increased because flours at high altitudes tend to be drier. And, like pftaylor mentions, the amount of yeast should be reduced because doughs rise so much faster at high altitudes.


Offline canadave

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Re: What does higher altitude do to dough and final crust?
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2005, 12:45:54 PM »
FWIW, I live near Edmonton, which is a half-mile above sea level, and I've never encountered much problem with altitude issues and baking pizzas (or anything else, for that matter).  Recipes posted by others have worked perfectly for me (except for times when I ruined them by my own stupidity) ;)