High altitude baking

High Altitude Baking — All your questions answered

This text is an excerpt from the book, Pie in the Sky, by Susan G. Purdy

Pie in the Sky…

100 Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Breads, and Pastries Home-Tested for Baking at Sea Level, 3,000, 5,000, 7,000, and 10,000 feet (and Anywhere in Between)



When I first started traveling across the United States to teach baking, I blithely assumed that the recipes I had so carefully developed in my New England kitchen at 540 feet in elevation would work everywhere else. They did not.


Crest-fallen cakes, miserable muffins, and pathetic pies appeared as soon as I reached 2500 feet in altitude. I tried suggested “high altitude adjustment tips” which failed miserably. The higher I went, the flatter the cakes fell. I was intrigued. Powerful forces were at work, and I knew that I needed to study and solve the mysteries of high altitude baking.


To do this, the traveling teacher turned into the traveling kitchen. I selected 100 of my favorite sea-level recipes and carried them up to kitchens at 2,850 feet in Grassy Creek, North Carolina; 3,500 feet in Trout Dale, Virginia; 5,000 feet in Denver, Colorado and McCall, Idaho; 7,000 feet in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and 10,000 feet in Breckenridge, Colorado. I stayed as long as it took, baking the same recipes over and over until they worked perfectly. I was determined to create the first cookbook ever to have foolproof recipes – in their entirety on a single easy-to-use chart – that work at every altitude. No more hit or miss experiments, no more frustrating calculations when you and your recipes move from one elevation to another. With Pie in the Sky, successful baking is finally portable! And if you are a reader instead of a baker, just sit back and enjoy the surprising stories of people and places that accompany this journey.