Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins


Blueberry muffins! Two words that make me happy, and I was especially happy that they came out moist and delicious, as I have been finding baking at a high altitude somewhat difficult, to say the least. When we moved to this 6,000 plus foot area on the Front Range of Colorado, my first attempt at baking a cake was a disaster! I followed my favorite recipe and saw it literally explode in my oven.  It bubbled over the pan onto my oven bottom and then the batter drippings began to burn and smoke. I looked like the frantic comedian Lucille Ball, trying to juggle saving my cake while not letting my kitchen go on fire!


Everything I tried to bake was rising too quickly and then would collapse and taste dense and dry. I knew I needed help understanding the difference in baking at high altitude and went online to what is now one of my favorite places to buy books: Thriftbooks.com. This is a used book site with wonderful low prices, free shipping in the USA, and good service. They may not have every book you want available, but if you find it through them you will find it at big savings! I have no affiliation with Thriftbook--I just wanted to pass on this great resource for used books.

I  found the New High Altitude Cookbook on Thriftbooks, and have been enjoying reading its hints and instructions.   I learned that water boils at a lower temperature at high altitude, and in general foods that boil, like rice and macaroni, take a little longer to cook. Since there is less moisture and oxygen at high altitude, sugars become more concentrated and therefore less is needed, and baking powders and soda in recipes also has to be reduced, while flour and liquids need to be increased slightly. Also, adding an extra regular sized egg or using only extra large eggs for baking will help add moisture.  I've also learned that I will most likely have to purchase a pressure cooker, as it will be the best way to make sure dry beans will cook properly! There is even a difference for microwave and slow cooker cooking at high altitude. All in all, it is a matter of experimentation with each recipe to find what works the best. It's a challenge, but I'm learning how to adjust.

Colorado State University has an online PDF with helpful high altitude cooking instructions, for 3,000 feet and above, that you can read on this link. The United States Department of Agriculture also has a web site about high altitude cooking and food safety on this link. Since most of the western states are partially or wholly at high altitude, above 3,000 feet, this is information that is valuable to all who live in this part of the country, or in mountainous regions in the rest of the US.


Does all this mean I'll only be using high altitude recipes from now on? No way! I'm just learning how to adjust my favorite recipes for my special circumstances. In fact, the Blueberry Buttermilk Muffin recipe I used to make these muffins was one of my old timers--written on an index card in my collection from a long forgotten source.  I adjusted it by decreasing the amount of baking powder slightly and adding an extra regular sized egg. Perfection!

Here's the original recipe:

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
4 ounces butter, melted and browned slightly
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Whisk dry ingredients together in a bowl

In another bowl mix sugar, eggs, flavoring extract and melted butter until well blended

Make a well in the dry ingredients and quickly pour in the wet ingredients, mixing quickly until batter is moist--do not over mix!

Fold in blueberries

Spoon into greased muffin cups, 2/3 full

Bake at 400 degrees F, for 20 -30 minutes and golden, or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each muffin.


They were moist and delicious and not overly sweet, just the way I remembered how they tasted when I lived at sea level in New York City.  It felt good to bake again with success!  I hope you will also enjoy this recipe.

Do you live in a high altitude area and have a favorite cookbook that you often use for reference, or helpful cooking tips you'd like to share? I'd love to know about them!




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40 comments:

Linda said...

This is a delicious post! The muffins look yummy! Glad yall were NoT down in Manitou Springs!ppl q

Linda said...

I am still getting used to my phone!

Miss Jean said...

Thanks for this post. I love baking and have had less than good success here. I've asked friends what they do to compensate for the altitude and they say nothing. I think they must not be bakers!

Daphne Bryson said...

Good Morning Pat, Well I have certainly learnt something today, as I had no idea that the altitude affected cooking.
I love blueberry muffins, I love it when you take a bite and the blueberry is "squished" inside the muffin. I really like your little square baking tins, they make a nice change from the circular ones.
Enjoy your day,
Best Wishes
Daphne

eileeninmd said...

Pat, your muffins look delicious! I love blueberries. I am glad you had success with the high altitude baking. Have a great day!

Lynn@Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Your muffins look great Pat! Wish I had one now. Glad you're finding the needed baking tips:@)

Vee said...

Oh that's an interesting challenge. I know that you, a wonderful cook, will figure it all out. Thanks for the tip about the book site!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm glad you mentioned the challenge of baking at high altitudes. I experienced something similar at 4000 feet and at first thought it was something I did. We love anything with blueberries.
Sam

From the Kitchen said...

These muffins are a favorite around my house too! I remember seeing recipe adjustments for high altitude baking and paying them no mind. Glad you figured it all out.

Best,
Bonnie

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Looks like you are mastering the high cooking now, Pat!! Yum!! All moves take adaptation, don't they? ;) blessings ~ tanna

black eyed susans kitchen said...

Can you squish one through the screen for me Pat? They look yummy!

Nellie said...

Yum! Save one for me!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Oh boy...high altitude baking is tricky! I like the tip about using jumbo sized eggs as a routine switch in baking. The leavening tweaks and flour/sugar adds/reduce is an on-going experiment as recipes must calibrate to pne's exact altitude and humidity levels.

I admire your determination and will take a hint to get that cook book. Lately the need to watch weight has made baking almost disappear in our kitchen anyway, the local fresh fruits and veggies are our go to treats for now. But a blueberry muffin sounds terrific!

A high altitude cooking tip from me: be sure to have an insta hot water dispenser in your kitchen. Saves so much time when cooking or making coffee or tea to have boiling water on tap.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Gosh, cooking and baking at high altitude does take more adjustment than I would have thought, but you seem to be tackling it just fine. Wish I had one of those muffins for breakfast today on this rainy Tuesday morning.

Sarah said...

Pat, your mini loaves look delicious. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Love cooking with blueberries!

Kat Mortensen said...

Yummy, yummy! Blueberries are absolutely my favourite berry.

I find it interesting that you elaborated on Lucy by her title. I thought everybody knew her, but then I forget about the young generation. Some of them don't even know The Beatles! Egads!

Betsy Adams said...

Hi There, I never ever thought about cooking/baking in a high altitude area... That's interesting. Glad you found the cookbook --and glad that you can learn to adjust your favorite recipes.. The Blueberry Muffin recipe sounds great. YUM...

Hugs,
Betsy

Cheryl @ TFD said...

Oh, those muffins look very tasty! I never thought about the altitude affecting the baking. Thanks for the link for books! I'll check it out. Have a nice day!

Margaret said...

Hi Pat, thank-you for this healthy simple recipe :) Your success with the challenge of high altitude baking must taste very sweet! Your blueberry muffins look delicious! They are one of my favorites! It has been so hot here I have not been baking. I had bought (!) some blueberry scones last week and mentioned to my husband, remember the blueberry drop scones I used make? He said he sure does...I have been meaning to dig up the recipe... However your photo is very inspiring so perhaps your blueberry muffins will be made first... :) Margaret from B.C.

Helen said...

When we moved from Orlando to Bend Oregon I learned very quickly that my old ways of baking were over. I have adapted, but it did take a bit of trial and error. My son has purchased a beautiful 4-bedroom home in Centennial! yea......

RNSANE said...

There are all kinds of adjustments, I guess, to living in a new home but I'd forgotten about cooking at higher altitudes...since I've never had to worry about that.

Right now, in India, in monsoon season, I've found most of my medications have turned to mush...my carefully poured three month supply of my daily meds, three times a day. I'm taking them, anyway, and hoping they will still be effective.

Kris said...

Those sound wonderful! Two of my favorite ingredients!!
xo Kris

ellen b. said...

That whole high altitude thing is so interesting to me. I'm glad you found a cookbook to help you out. Dear's Aunt from Denver had such a great recipe for a raspberry cake that I loved and could never get right trying to convert it from her high altitude recipe...
Blessings!

Lorrie said...

Your blueberry muffins look wonderful - you are inspiring me. I think my husband would love some for breakfast tomorrow.

I lived in Ecuador at 9000 feet for many years. I learned to add a couple more tablespoons of flour and less leavening to my baked goods. After a few years I could make the adjustments automatically to any recipe and I'm sure you'll learn the same thing.

Barbara F. said...

They look so good, I like the mini loaf shape, too. I am sure you will figure all your recipes out as you make them. I never thought of living in NYC as living at sea level! xo

merrilymarylee said...

Very interesting! I've seen altitude adjustments in recipes before, but I'm glad you explained it so well. I have no doubt that you will conquer! :)

Carol Z said...

I've never thought about the altitude and baking, but it looks like you've figured things out well. The muffins look perfect.
Thanks for your shopping tip. I've got a few new places to try.

Roz Corieri Paige said...

I've always wondered what it was like cooking and baking at the higher altitudes in Colorado! Your beautiful blueberry muffins look like you had no problems at all! Blueberry muffins make me smile too Pat!

xo
Roz

Betsy Brock said...

wow..they look fantastic! I've never had to bake high altitude...looks like you're getting the hang of it very well!

AdriBarr said...

Hi Pat,

Oh my, that does sound like Lucy in the kitchen. I am glad you have the high altitude baking sorted out now.

Thanks for the tip about the bookseller. I am always on the look out for good vendors. I often use Half.com. They offer a range of sellers with truly extraordinary prices. One can purchase almost anything there, and I have always been pleased with my transactions.

Your muffins look great. I've been on a blueberry binge myself of late. They are so good now, nice and sweet.

Best,
ABc

Barbara said...

I have not had great success with high altitude baking but since we try to not eat a lot of carbs in our house anyway, it's not been a big problem for me.

But that tip about cooking beans in a pressure cooker -- I did not know about that. My beans cooked from scratch never turn out tender at high altitude, even with much pre-soaking. Thanks for such a well-written post.

Thanks, too, for the news about the book site.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

I've heard it's a challenge (baking on high)...but your muffins look yummy!

Lovella ♥ said...

This is great Pat. We are asked on occasion about altitude baking and since we live at sea level we haven't much advice to offer.
Those muffins look spectacular!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I've always heard that was a challenge but it looks like you conquered it Pat, your muffins look great!You'll be an expert in no time, can't wait to see your Thanksgiving meal now!

Jenny said...

Yum!

I don't know if you've ever tried dried blueberries in muffins.

Or fresh raspberries.

Both are yummy, too!

This made me hungry.

I think I need to go find an early lunch!

Happy Wednesday!

Lisa@GrandmasBriefs said...

Looks like you've done a fantastic job adjusting to (and for) the altitude. Funny, as I've never lived anywhere else as an adult, I only know how to cook for high altitude. :-D Like everything else, I suppose, it's all a matter of perspective. (Your muffin photos made my mouth water! Yum!)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Oh, I so want one of those muffins!

Tracy said...

Soooo good! I just love blueberries... mmm... VERY interesting with the cooking & baking high altitude. The experiments are fun, I'm sure. Love when you share a recipe, Pat... Thank you. :o) Happy Day ((HUGS))

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I must be a challenge to learn how to bake differently after being used to another way! These look so delicious after your tweaks and I love the rectangle muffin shape.

Annesphamily said...

Having lived in Colorado my entire life I was use to cooking at lower altitude in Pueblo. my hometown at 4,780 feet! Moving to Denver in the 1980s changed all that! I am always looking for ways to experiment with things that I know I would blow up like my mom's favorite cream puffs! A favorite cook book for me always was the Junior League Colorado Cache! The CSU extension office was always a great lifesaver too! It is a nice service.
Your muffins look delicious and I am going to have to try them soon! Thanks for sharing.