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Nutrition and Food Safety

University of Wyoming Extension


Baking yeast breads in the high country can be a pleasurable and successful experience if you remember these few tips. In the high dry climate of Wyoming, flour tends to be drier and absorbs more liquid. A little less flour, or slightly more liquid, may be needed to maintain the proper dough consistency. There is no hard and fast rule to follow, because changes in humidity will affect the flour's dryness and the amount needed in the same recipe on different days.

A good method to follow is to add one-third of the flour at a time until you have a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

High altitude affects the rising time of yeast bread doughs as leavening gases expand more quickly. Bread doughs double in size faster at high altitudes than at lower altitudes. The higher the altitude, the shorter the time required for dough to rise.

This faster rising time speeds the bread making process, but it also causes problems. A certain length of rising time is necessary for good flavor and a light textured bread. Using less yeast, or letting the dough rise twice before shaping into loaves or rolls, usually allows enough rising time for good flavor. It is important that the dough be allowed to rise only until double its original size before punching the dough down, or before you start to bake. Letting your bread rise too long may cause over-fermentation and result in a coarse, open-textured bread, with a yeast-like flavor.

A simple method for testing yeast dough is to quickly press the tip of your finger into the center of the dough. If a dent remains in the dough, it is ready to be punched down.

Because of Wyoming's dry atmosphere, bread dough may become dry and form a crust on the surface of the dough during rising time. To prevent this crust from forming, 1) the dough can be placed in a warm closed cupboard with a pan of hot, steaming water or 2) covered with a damp cloth.

At altitudes over 3,500 feet it is suggested to increase baking temperature by 25oF. Most sea level recipes require baking temperatures between 375oF and 400oF, so at higher altitudes the best baking temperature is between 400o - 425oF. This higher temperature sets the cell walls quickly and stops further rising, preventing the dough from becoming too light.

Source: Cooking and Baking it Up! Altitude Adjusters by Vicki Hayman, Phyllis Lewis, and Melissa Bardsley, University of Wyoming Extension Publication B-1310, 2018, with adaptations from UW Extension Cent$ible Nutrition cookbook.

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