Baking at high altitudes can be a real challenge – especially since most cookbooks are written for those of us baking at, or near, sea level. It’s hard to get reliable recipes and good tips that will guarantee good results when you live 5,000-ft. or more above the ocean. I’m a sea-level baker and, while I would love to take a several month long sabbatical into the mountains to perfect some higher elevation pastries, I just don’t have time at the moment. Fortunately, there are some cookbooks already out there that have already tackled the topic, like Pie in the Sky: Successful Baking at High Altitudes, which is full of recipes that have been successfully tested in ovens from 0 to 10,000-ft.
The recipes in the book cover a fairly standard array of baked goods, from butter cakes and pies (not surprising, given the title) to cookies and cheesecakes. But it is not the recipes themselves that really make this book a good one: it’s all the extras. Author Susan Purdy packed this book with stories that recount her successes and failures at high altitude baking. Not only does this give the reader something to relate to, it also provides a great jumping off point for explanations of the science of high altitude baking. The changes needed to make a “standard” recipe successful high in the mountains are explained well and – better still – all the conversions can be taken and applied to recipes from other sources, as well. This means that in addition to getting this one cookbook, other cookbooks are made to be more accessible.
While many books include tips and hints that make baking from other recipes easier, this is one of the few that can actually be said to serve as a guidebook. Definitely a good way to get a fresh start (and a good rise) from some high elevation baking.