Baking at Elevation

If you are visiting us here in South Lake Tahoe and get that sweet tooth hankering, read on! You could stop by one of our favorite bakeries in town, or if the hankering beckons for a fresh from the oven, chocolate chip cookie, have fun learning some science behind baking at altitude.

Most people that live and vacation here cook and bake meals and treats without a thought of interference from the environment or location. When the truth is, something as simple as boiling  water is different up here in the mountains.

We all know that baking is more scientific than cooking but without getting too nerdy here’s a little more behind what actually happens: Water boils at about 12 degrees lower at our elevation (6232’) than at sea level. This boiling point temperature difference is caused by decreased atmospheric pressure and effects so many things including cook time and temp.

Basically, evaporation happens too fast, the baked goods rise too fast for the glutens and sugars to set. These challenges result in collapsed, flat cakes and cookies, dense, dried out or crumbly cakes and most commonly well done edges with uncooked centers. 

But with our tips below we can help remove a few of those challenges and take your treats to next level baking:

  • Sub ½ semi sweet chocolate chips for milk chocolate chips  
  • Refrigerate prepared dough for at least 30 min
  • Use cookie scoop or scale for even baking time and temp
  • Bake for 8 minutes and check for doneness if necessary turn sheet and leave in for 1 minute increments til done.  
  • Cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to mouth or cooling rack.
  • Store in air tight container (everything dries out so fast up here)  
  • Bake by batch and give to the family, neighbors and friends or keep dough for 1 week in fridge (longer in freezer) and bake as needed

For those with a special family recipe you want to enjoy on vacation it just might be the case that they’ll taste better if you bake them beforehand! Or start a new family tradition with some of the delectable treats from our local fresh bakeries.

Crazy Good Bakery

Crazy Good Bakery 2040 Dunlap Dr.

Tucked behind Grass Roots Natural Foods at the Y this old house is not to be missed painted a beautiful shade of Tahoe blue. Crazy Good Bakery has a welcoming porch/patio that is great in the summer to soak up the sun or sit under an umbrella and enjoy your goodies. But for those that enjoy the smell of house made bagels, sweets, pastries and confections inside seating is plenty. Take a bar window seat for a site of Mt. Tallac. Also, the locally roasted coffee is a delight! Seasonly creative flavored donuts are a hit on the weekends; go early and gets yours!Among so many other tasty treats these donuts are sure to hit your classic craving with a twist.

My Sugar Pine Bakery

My Sugar Pine Bakery 3564 Lake Tahoe Blvd

Indulge in some of the best brownies and made for one tarts and pies. Make sure to pick up a cookie for now and half a dozen pastries/goodies for your counter-top snacks. The family approved minis pies are a hit with the kids!

Finally, when baking fear not. combine flour sugar and fat with some love and it is bound to turn out, sweet and delicious. Enjoy!

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