How to Cook a Carrot Cake at High Altitude

Updated on August 10, 2017
Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake | Source

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.

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.

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

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      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 3 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        Glad you enjoyed the cake, I'm making one now

      • profile image

        Margaret 3 years ago

        I'm at 9100' in Colorado and am just ecstatic over this recipe!! I made it yesterday after a miserable fail at making chocolate cupcakes, and it turned out really well! (Even after forgetting to turn the oven down and cooking it at 400 for 35 minutes!) A little crispy on the outside (my fault- because of the high cooking temp) but overall very good. The cake was moist, rounded and flavorful. I did reduce the baking powder about ¼ tsp- after my earlier baking fail, I was leery of putting in a full 2 tsp of baking powder.

      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 3 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        For the backing soda, look in the cleaning products aisle at the supermarket. Look for TIPS bicarbonate of soda. Same stuff, and much cheaper. You can also get it at the pharmacy but in small packets that are overpriced. Hope you enjoy.

      • profile image

        Alicia 3 years ago

        Thank you from Cuenca, Ecuador! The altitude continues to get me, as do the lack of ingredients (baking soda, etc). This recipe solves all my problems!

      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 3 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        Yes, although you could use two 9" round pans and stack the layers.

      • profile image

        Linda 3 years ago

        Do you use a 9x13" glass baking pan?

      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 3 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        Baking is always a challenge at 9,000 ft but with a little patients you will get the hang of it.

      • Yvette Alcivar profile image

        Yvette Alcivar 3 years ago from Guayaquil, Ecuador

        Thank you for sharing this! Moving to Quito from Guayaquil, and I am so excited that baking is doable there! Will definitely try this recipe as soon as I get there, baking is also a business for me. I will have to tweak all my recipes with your tips. Thanks again!

      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 3 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        Yes, that is what you need, but it is optional.

      • profile image

        Eden 3 years ago

        what are nutmeats? do you mean chopped nuts?

      • profile image

        Missy 4 years ago

        Thanks for this! I live in Quito too and having been missing my carrot cake, especially this time of year. I am excited to make it!

      • profile image

        Baking in LA Paz 5 years ago

        I am at 13,000 ft here in La Paz Bolivia going to try this recipe Hope it comes out :) Also it will be my first carrot cake too

      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 5 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        Thanks Gabi, I am sure you will enjoy it.

      • profile image

        Gabi 5 years ago

        Thanks a lot I am from Quito and I am a beginner at this baking thing. And I was wondering why my cakes where looking so silly if I was following all the instructions. I will try your carrot cake

      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 5 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        Hi Bobbisue, I use flour without the baking powder added. Otherwise you will use too much and the cake will fall. Since I do not know how much they add to their flour, I prefer to be able to regulate it myself.

      • profile image

        Bobbisue 5 years ago

        Im also in Quito and have found it very hard to bake as well. The other day I tried Carrot Cake for the first time and lets just say it was a disaster! Hahahahaha Out of curiousity what brand of flour do you use here? The kind with baking powder already added?

      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 5 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        Yes Jana, I am at 8300 ft and I have never had any problems. Have also receive emails from people who have made it and they expressed success. Not sure what may have happened. (The recipe calls for baking powder rather than baking soda. This can make a difference.)

      • profile image

        Jana 5 years ago

        Is this carrot cake recipe actually altitude adjusted? I assumed so, but at 8000 feet mine fell flatter than a full-on flatlander recipe. I had thought 2 tsp of baking soda seemed like a lot...

      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 6 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        Hi Billie Jo, I have found the 350F works fine but what is important is that you check for doneness after 35 to 40 min and adjust your time accordingly. This is an extremely moist cake so the main concern is drying out the outside of the cake before the inside is done.

      • profile image

        Billie Jo 6 years ago

        Hello! I'm at 6,800ft. I'm thinking, if this recipe is for 9,000ft, it should work all right. I do have a question though. Typically, I bake at 375F, but your recipe says 350F.

        Thanks for the recipe. I hope to make it tomorrow.

        Cheers!

      • ColibriPhoto profile image
        Author

        ColibriPhoto 6 years ago from Quito, Ecuador

        Thanks for the comment Anna. I am sure you will enjoy it.

      • profile image

        anna 6 years ago

        hi and thank you for this post i am going to denver to visit my family and im going to make my very own special carrot cake and ive never baked there so this is great hope it all turns out:)

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