Friday, February 09, 2007

Altitude kicking my butt?

It is, as many of you know, much to my ongoing chagrin and dismay that I do not live near the sea. The fact of the matter is, not only do we not live near the sea, but we don’t even live near sea level. We’re about 5300 feet above sea level here. While this isn’t super up there, in the thin air zone, it’s enough up there to be of note. I tend to ignore this altitude thing in my baking; maybe it’s denial, maybe it’s stupidity; maybe it’s just that mostly I seem to get lucky and my baked goods don’t suffer any ill effects of altitude. People ask, “do you adjust for the altitude?” “Nope.” I blithely reply. I’m alternately too lazy, too cocky, too dumb (those adjustments just seem way too tricky for me to really get my mind around. I’m not kidding). Well, maybe I should be rethinking my bad attitude.

This recipe for Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze came out in a Bon Appetit issue a year or two ago; it’s a Dorie Greenspan cake (she’s the author of my new baking cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours, the one my sweet husband gave me for Christmas). Accompanying this recipe was a totally wonderful article about French women, and how they make everything look lovely and glamorous, but how, in fact, they actually put little effort in: they are just damn good at knowing clever short cuts (e.g., where to buy excellent baked goods that look homemade). It was one of those pieces that I read out loud to anyone I could and, for a while, I made the cake again and again. Oddly (I think), the reviews are really mixed, and some people had really bad experiences with it.

In spite of the rather suspect appearance of this cake (I know, it's not that bad, but it does have a noticeable dip in the middle, and Ray called it “horribly disfigured”), it was still as yummy as ever. But, I do wonder if I maybe need to start taking that whole “adjust for altitude” thing a little more seriously.

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