High Altitude Baking Challenge

I’m currently enjoying a little R&R with my man out in beautiful, wintery white Colorado. I’ve been spending the afternoons taking some beautiful walks through the mountains and of course in the kitchen! He lives at 10,000 ft. so baking can be a bit of a challenge. I’m still refining my high altitude cooking skills. Here are come tips I’ve picked up from some websites and asking around. At higher elevations there is a decrease in pressure and oxygen in the air. The air is a heck of a lot drier and moisture tends to evaporate from foods at a much faster rate. This affects not only baking but even the rate at which water boils!

Tips for high altitude baking:
Decrease amounts of baking soda and baking powder by 25-50% (5,000-10,000 elevation)
Raise the temperature of the oven about 20 degrees to set the batter faster
Increase the liquid in the recipe by 3 to 4 Tbs.
Decrease the amount of sugar in the recipe by 1 to 3 Tbs. (for each cup of sugar called for)

Also, water boils at a lower temperature the higher the elevation so things need to be cooked longer, especially beans. I usually end up cooking beans for about twice the amount of time as I would down in Florida. The best way is a pressure cooker, but I need to talk A into getting one of those :)

Yesterday afternoon I made some delicious candied pecans and healthy carrot spice muffins. The candied nuts were inspired by fellow blogger The Hungry Birdie and the fact that A had a huge bag of raw pecans in his freezer :) I altered my recipe a bit using what I had on hand. I made a good amount too so he could enjoy them after I leave.

Candied Pecans
2 cups raw pecans (or nut of your choice)
1/2 c. pure maple syrup (or agave syrup would work too)
pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
**Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Toss wet ingredients and spices into mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
2. Add nuts and stir to coat.
3. Spread evenly over baking sheet.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes. After 5 minutes I checked on them and gave them a good stir with a spatula.
5. Pull from the oven and use spatula to remove from cookie sheet onto dinner plate or large platter. (This can be a sticky process but it’s necessary to do ASAP otherwise nuts will cool and harden on the baking pan and are very difficult to remove)

6. After all the nuts are transferred to a plater (don’t use parchment paper, I tried this once and had some bad luck with the paper sticking to the nuts) allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
7. After a few minutes use your hands to break up nut clusters. The nuts will still be warm at this point but should be cool enough to separate. Once again, I found this process really helped. This way you have candied nuts and not candied nut clusters :)
8. After about 15 minutes nuts should be completely cool. Put in mason jars for safe keeping, add to salads, use for toppings on baked goods, and so much more.

After my nut adventure I prowled through A’s fridge to see what I had to work with for baking. I knew I wanted to try something from the cookbook I just picked up before leaving FL, The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon. The book is full of yummy vegan recipes and I love the fact that she focuses on low-fat. Her baking recipes use apple sauce and mashed bananas instead of oils. Love it! Well I came across a bag of raw carrots and some dried cranberries so I used her current recipe for Spiced Carrot Muffins and adapted it for high altitude, while adding a few additional ingredients**. You will have to check out her book for the original recipe but I’ll post my adaptation below. If you try this at lower altitudes use a little less liquid and a little more sugar, baking soda and baking powder.

Spiced Carrot Muffins with Pecans & Cranberries
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/3 c. raw organic sugar
1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. shredded carrot (the original recipe calls for 1 shredded carrot but that resulted in about 1/3 c. for me and I wanted a carrot muffin not a muffin with a small hint of carrot. I recommend increasing the carrot for sure in this recipe)
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. chopped pecans
**Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Whisk together all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl combine grated carrot, applesauce, mashed banana and sugar. Mix to incorporate.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Add nuts and dried cranberries.
4. Grease or line muffin pan and spoon mixture into muffin cups. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
I topped my muffins with a little tofutti cream cheese lemon glaze that I thinned out with a little extra soy milk and some candied nuts of course!

I think I’ll be baking up a storm all week so more recipes to follow! Enjoy!
P.S. Lindsay Nixon, being the super cool vegan blogger that she is, shares several of her recipes on her blog too! Check out her muffin recipes here!

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