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Take baking to new heights

KIMBERLY NICOLETTIsummit daily news
Special to the Daily
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BRECKENRIDGE Do you have an altitude problem?In the High Country, many bakers have had their share of brittle brownies, collapsed cakes and overflowing pie fillings. But a new cookbook can change your attitude about altitude.Award-winning author and nationally renowned baking instructor Susan G. Purdy spent two years adjusting old-fashioned family recipes to various elevations, from 3,000 feet to 10,000 feet. She baked at about 3,000 feet in North Carolina, 5,000 feet in Idaho, 7,000 feet in Sante Fe and 9,600 feet in Breckenridge. While in Breckenridge, she mixed, measured, beat and blended ingredients every day from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. for six weeks. It was much more difficult than I thought, Purdy said. I baked as long as I could stand on my feet. I made everything six or seven times (because it didnt come out). I cried a lot and screamed.But now shes reaping the reward of her effort; she comes to Webers Books & Drawings to sign her cookbook, Pie in the Sky: Successful Baking at High Altitudes, and offer samples at 11 a.m. today. The 338-page cookbook presents 100 cakes, pies, cookies, breads and pastries in five different recipes ranging in instructions for baking at standard sea level to 10,000 feet.My purpose was to make recipes that worked at each of these elevations so you didnt have to juggle around and guess, she said. These are proven, tasted, reliable home recipes. I looked for the basic things add more flour, less sugar, add liquid but exactly how much varied.Puzzling the ingredients and temperature variations together became a chemistry problem, and Purdy relied on Shirley Corriher, a food chemist in Atlanta, as well as other pastry chefs to solve the equations.Lower air pressure, for example, causes water to boil at a lower temperature (194 degrees in Summit County, as opposed to 212 at sea level). As liquids evaporate, sugar in recipes becomes more concentrated. The extra concentration of sugar weakens the proteins most specifically gluten in wheat flour which causes goodies like cake to collapse.Purdy has published 28 cookbooks, including six childrens cookbooks. One won the Julia Child Cookbook Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She has appeared on NBCs Today Show, ABCs Good Morning America and QVC. She also travels nationwide and to France teaching pastry-making workshops and writes about cooking for national magazines.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.

What: Pie in the Sky: Successful Baking at High AltitudesWho: Author Susan G. Purdy signing her cookbookWhen: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today Where: Webers Books & Drawings, 100 S. Main, St., BreckenridgeFor recipes adjusted for altitude, visit http://www.summitdaily.com/food.


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