Q: I live at 4,000″ and my bread is coming out flat, any ideas?
A: I haven’t personally experienced baking at that altitude. Living in MN we don’t get to such heights! But I’ve had many people ask about high altitude baking and this is what I’ve found out:
It turns out there is a big difference if you live above 4,000 feet in how the yeast behaves. It wants to rise really quickly, but then it collapses because there isn’t enough structure to support it. In other words you might try things that inhibit it from rising so fast and add more structure to the dough.
Here are a couple things to try:
Decrease the yeast to 1 tablespoon, instead of 1 1/2 tablespoons.
Replace the all-purpose flour with bread flour, which has more gluten, which will give it more structure. This may cause your dough to be drier, so you may end up adding a little more water. Whole wheat flour has very little gluten and should be mixed with bread flour or it won’t rise.
Increase the salt to inhibit the yeast from growing too fast. Unless you find the bread too salty to begin with then leave it as is.
The last thing is to let the dough rise slower and longer before baking because you’ve reduced the yeast.
I’ve been having great results with allowing the dough to rise in the refrigerator for several hours. First thing in the morning I shape the loaf, put it on a parchment paper, cover it loosely with plastic and put in the refrigerator. Right before dinner time I preheat the oven to 450 with the stone in the middle rack. I take out the cold dough, slash it as normal and bake it with steam. The crust and crumb are perfect and it has risen really slowly. This may be perfect for high altitude baking???
Try that and let me know what happens! If this doesn’t work we will try something else.