How to Cook a Carrot Cake at High Altitude
I began cooking when I was seventeen and became enamored with creating culinary pleasures. I was always up to a challenge. When someone told me that a particular dish would be difficult, then that was what I wanted to tackle. Souffles, wellingtons, and puff pastries became my forte. There were failures, but nothing tested my culinary skills for long.
My greatest challenge, however, came when I moved to Quito, Ecuador, and had to confront cooking at high altitudes. The changes that were necessary to produce a moist, properly cooked product were substantial, especially when it came to baking. The lower atmospheric pressure at 9,000 ft. (2,800 m) resulted in correspondingly lower boiling temperature. That 212o F (100o C) had been reduced drastically to a paltry 196o F (91o C). This change meant increased evaporation and longer cooking times, which compounded the problems with the loss of moisture.
High Altitude Recipe Changes
There are three actions that need to be implemented when baking at altitudes above 3,000 ft. (1,000 m). First, increase fluids to counteract the increased evaporation. Second, reduce the amount of sugar, as this will produce a grainy texture to the pastry. Finally, reduce the amount of leavening. The low atmospheric pressure will result in sizable bubbles produced by the agent and could result in a cake to fall.
Carrot Cake is a wonderful choice for a high altitude dessert owing to the increased moisture provided by the hearty orange root. It is simple to make and delicious to eat with a hot cup of coffee. I normally prepare everything in my Kitchen Aid Pro Line food processor. All ingredients fit nicely into its 16-cup bowl and clean up is simplified due to the preparation of everything in one vessel. I prefer a rectangular dish but round cake pans can be used to make a multilayer delight.
- 4 eggs
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 ½ cups cooking oil
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 3 ½ cups grated carrots
- 1 cup chopped nutmeats
- 1 cup raisons
- Preheat oven to 350o F.
- Grease and flour baking pan.
- In large bowl, beat sugar and eggs until thick and creamy yellow.
- Add vanilla and oil, beating well.
- Mix all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.
- Add dry ingredients slowly to egg mixture, mixing thoroughly.
- Fold in carrots, nutmeats and raisons.
- Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake about 45 minutes or until cake center springs back when pressed with fingertip.
- Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 6 oz. cream cheese
- 4 tbsp cream (milk can be substituted)
- 2 tbsp soft butter
- 3 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, cream and butter until fluffy.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, adjusting sugar and cream until reaching desired consistency.
- Add salt and vanilla.
This is a very rich dessert and, for me, is best enjoyed relaxing in an overstuffed chair sipping a steaming cup of coffee. However, for breakfast with a tall chilled glass of milk is a great way to start a day. Regardless of preferences, this cake is a great addition to anyone’s recipe box.