FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– Elevation can make a big difference in cooking, especially when it comes to baking.

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“We have that lighter blanket of air over us which means less resistance on baking,” Marisa Bunning, an associate professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Colorado State University, explained. “So we have bread that rises faster and cookies that can spread out too much.”

To ensure your holiday treats turn out just right, researchers at Colorado State University have a few tips to share. In fact, high-altitude cooking adjustments were developed at CSU back in the early 1900’s.

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“Actually, some of it was done in this space we’re in now,” Bunning told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann inside a kitchen on campus. “Some of the fixes are really pretty easy.”

Bunning said the easiest fix is cranking up the oven temperature by no more than 25 degrees. Another option, cutting back on the amount of sugar the recipe calls for.

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“You might want to reduce the leavening which, in most cases, would be baking powder,” she said.

Colorado’s dry climate combined with the elevation may also require more liquids for baking success. If your recipe calls for eggs, Bunning suggests using an extra-large or jumbo size.

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“It adds just a little bit more protein and moisture,” she said.

For those who prefer a box mix or “cookie-in-a-jar” kits, be sure to take a close look at the label. Often times they are from out of state and developed at sea level.

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“They may have deemed it successful at sea level,” Bunning explained, “but we don’t know how it’s going to work out here.”

Bunning said adjustments will vary depending on what you’re making.

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“There’s not a silver bullet, but that’s what makes it a little bit challenging,” she said.

Yet, Bunning added, that can also be part of the fun of baking in Colorado.

“It’s one of the small sacrifices we have to make for living here,” she said. “So just look at it as a challenge and an opportunity to learn more about food chemistry.”

LINK: High-Altitude Baking Tips from CSU

Kelly Werthmann

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