Cakes that rise to the occasion

Tips for high-altitude baking

As a sea-level cook with mile-high grandsons, I've had to adjust my favorite celebration cakes to their altitude. One is an indispensable basic vanilla cake that bakes in tender, even layers to frost; it's ideal for birthdays. To make it work, I reduced the baking powder. Another is a fine-textured pound cake that I've used for events from picnics to weddings. It has no leavening to start with; reducing the sugar did the trick. The recipes here produce beautiful results at 5,000 to 6,000 feet (in a convection oven, use the shorter baking times). To adapt your basic cake formulas to elevated conditions, use the chart below.

Ups and downs for cake recipes at high altitudes
Change 3,000 feet 5,000 feet 7,000 feet
Baking powder
Reduce each teaspoon
by 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. by 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. by 1/4 tsp.
Reduce each cup
by up to 1 tbsp. by up to 2 tbsp. by 1 to 3 tbsp.
Increase each cup
by 1 to 2 tbsp. by 2 to 4 tbsp. by 3 to 4 tbsp.
Oven temperature
3° to 5° 15° 21° to 25°

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