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How to Cook a Carrot Cake at High Altitude

I've been a freelance writer for over 9 years. I write about everything from Ecuadorian culture to home cooking.

Thought you couldn't cook at high altitude? Think again! Here's an easy way to do it.

Thought you couldn't cook at high altitude? Think again! Here's an easy way to do it.

Introduction

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.

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

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.

Carrot Cake

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350o F.
  2. Grease and flour baking pan.
  3. In large bowl, beat sugar and eggs until thick and creamy yellow.
  4. Add vanilla and oil, beating well.
  5. Mix all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.
  6. Add dry ingredients slowly to egg mixture, mixing thoroughly.
  7. Fold in carrots, nutmeats and raisons.
  8. Pour into prepared pan.
  9. Bake about 45 minutes or until cake center springs back when pressed with fingertip.
  10. Cool.
  11. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, cream and butter until fluffy.
  2. Gradually add powdered sugar, adjusting sugar and cream until reaching desired consistency.
  3. Add salt and vanilla.

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Conclusion

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. 

Questions & Answers

Question: Is this carrot cake recipe a high altitude recipe or does it need to be adapted using your tips?

Answer: Yes, this is a high altitude recipe. I used it between 8000 and 9000 feet with great results

Question: This looks amazing. My friend made this (she thanks you for a great recipe). I need to do a BIG cake for 35 for tomorrow. Can I double this recipe for carrot cake?

Answer: You should have not problem doubling the recipe, just be careful that you don't use too deep a pan or you may have problems with the center not cooking correctly.

Question: Is this recipe for a single layer (sheet cake) carrot cake?

Answer: I normally make a sheet cake, but you could use it to make a layer cake, using the cream cheese frosting between the layers.

Question: What size pan should I use when making a carrot cake? Would 9x13 work?

Answer: A 9 x13 would be fine, that is my normal pan size

Question: On what rack in a gas oven in high altitude should I cook the carrot cake in this recipe?

Answer: I always use the center rack.

Question: What are nutmeats?

Answer: Nutmeats are the edible portion of the nut without the shell. You can use walnuts, pecans or any other nut that you prefer, but make sure they are unsalted.

Question: If I half the recipe what size pan would be best?

Answer: An 8x8 pan would be approximately half the size of a 9x13.

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