We live at about 6000 feet - something that would have meant nothing to me 3 years ago. I never paid attention to altitude until we moved to Colorado. I didn't even know how high "high" was until we moved here. Now I am always curious about what altitude we are at. I even asked Matt for one of those thing-a-ma-jigs that tells you what altitude you are at. Sorta like a GPS for altitude.
Other than breathing a bit harder after walking up the stairs, the only way that living at a higher altitude has affected my life is baking (and cooking beans, but that is for another post!). I find it really difficult to bake. I have yet to make a yeast bread that comes out better than decent. Muffins are flat and dry. Even cookies seem a bit off. Part of it is altitude and part of it is the dry climate. The moisture in baked goods disappears almost instantaneously. I have heard all kinds of theories on how to adjust recipes, but those slight adjustments make it difficult to bake consistently. So I am continually on the search for recipes that work well. Of course, when I find a recipe that works well at home, it never seems to work well when we travel up into the mountains (about 10,000 feet).
This winter I finally found a cornbread muffin recipe that works great at altitude. Makes a nice dome muffin, isn't too dry, and tastes good! Miraculously the recipe works well up in the mountains as well. I adapted it from a corn muffin recipe in the cookbook Baking at High Altitude.
This recipe makes at least 36 corn muffins. We like corn muffins a lot in our house, but that is a bit too many for one meal. I've tried cutting the recipe in half, but it doesn't seem to work as well. (It also doesn't make good mini muffins.) What to do with all that extra corn bread?? I usually make one pan to eat with our original meal, one pan to make Cornbread Salad to eat the next night, and I save some batter to make Corn Dog Muffins for lunch the next day.
High Altitude Corn Muffins
3 cups corn meal
3 cups white whole wheat flour
3T ground flax seed
3T wheat germ
1/3 cup sugar
1T baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional - I usually use about 1/2 tsp)
1 cup shredded cheese (optional)
3/4 cup melted butter
3 1/3 cups buttermilk
Mix all the dry ingredients including the cheese in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix batter well.
Grease (don't skip this!) muffin cups. Fill each section to the top.
Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes.
1 pan of crumbled corn muffins (this works really well with stale cornbread as well)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
several tomatoes, chopped
1-2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups frozen corn
splash of apple cider vinegar
2 cups mayonnaise (more or less to taste)
Mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for 12-18 hours
Corn Dog Muffins
Leftover corn muffin mix
hot dogs (meat or veggie), cut into quarters
Shredded cheese (optional)
Fill muffin sections half full of muffin mix. Place hot dog pieces and a pinch of cheese in each section with corn muffin mix (I chop the hot dog pieces up pretty small and put a spoonful in each section). Cover hot dog pieces with remaining muffin mix. Bake as directed.