Purdy has actually "gone there and done that," staying as long as it took to bake these recipes to perfection at five different locations and elevations across thecountry. In Pie in the Sky, Purdy leaves behind old conversion tables, disproves many oft-repeated calculations and adjustments, and presents reliable recipes in their entirety for each altitude. She takes out the tinkering and guarantees success at any height.
In addition, she explains the hows and whys, gives tips and hints for problems specific to every altitude, and generally demystifies the subject of atmospheric obstacles that cause favorite recipes to flop. Whether they live in the eastern mountains or the far west, in Boston, Massachusetts; Boone, North Carolina; or Santa Fe, New Mexico; home bakers as well as experienced chefs will love the wide range of easy-to-make treats including Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie, Coconut Cake with Coconut Icing, Paradise Peak Chocolate Soufflé, Vail Lemon-Poppy Seed Loaf, Celestial Challah, and Sour Cream Streusel Coffee Cake.
Every recipe was tested at sea level (Connecticut), 3,000 feet (North Carolina and Virginia), 5,000 feet (Idaho and Colorado), 7,000 feet (New Mexico), and 10,000 feet (Colorado) and can be used at these elevations or any points in between.
|Product dimensions:||7.94(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.13(d)|
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Pie in the Sky Successful Baking at High Altitudes100 Cakes, Pies, Cookies, Breads, and Pastries Home-tested for Baking at Sea Level, 3,000, 5,000, 7,000, and 10,000 feet (and Anywhere in Between).
By Susan Purdy
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Susan Purdy
All right reserved.
Friends in High Places
North Carolina • Virginia
"We live in the mountains, you know, why don't you come down to visit us?" my cousins Stacey and Jim Carson asked, inviting me to their North Carolina vacation home. Mountains? High altitude mountains? This could be a great opportunity to be with family and, coincidentally, perhaps be the answer to my search for a recipe-testing location at between 2,500 and 3,500 feet and east of the Rockies. "We're not exactly sure of our elevation. We'll figure it out once you get here, but we're near Boone [3,300 feet] and Blowing Rock [4,000 feet]," they assured me. "We're at the end of a dirt road, quiet, and private, and if you want to work here, it's all yours except when we come for weekend tastings."
How could I refuse? I immediately began to gather my recipes and make lists. Stacey and Jim, both good cooks, had carefully designed a well-equipped kitchen, but I knew I'd have to bring my own gear, from springform pans, whisks, and icing spatulas to digital timers and oven thermometers. My lists grew with my enthusiasm. By the time I packed my car with books, Bundt pans, recipe files, laptop, compass, camera, and dried mango snacks, there was barely room for me to squeeze into the driver's seat with my road map.
I started out on a sunny May morning, filled with optimism and a sense of adven-ture. As I drove across Virginia to the southwestern corner where the Appalachian Mountains meet the Blue Ridge in Ashe County, North Carolina, the hills got steeper, the valleys deeper, and the towns had more colorful names: Mouth-of-Wilson was my first landmark, not far from Trout Dale, en route to Grassy Creek and my new home on the north fork of the New River, a curling bronze ribbon that wound languorously through flatlands of tall emerald and ochre grass.
I followed the river road as Stacey had directed until I turned into their drive and began to climb into the woods. In a clearing at the top, I came to their gray clapboard loft-house nestled cozily into the wooded hillside. It reminded me a little of a chalet, with a side deck overlooking the terraced vegetable garden and lawn sloping down to the overflowing creek.
I spent the first morning organizing my clutter of cake pans and unpacking my suitcase office. In the afternoon on the deck, we caught up on Stacey's work as executive director of the Art Alliance of Greensboro, admired her beautifully hand-crafted pottery, and talked about Jim's projects as an educator and musician/leader of a popular swing band. The next day, they gave me a scenic tour of the town, the farmers' market, and the best local supermarket -- soon to become my primary destination.
My first job was to find out exactly where I was in terms of elevation. If my cousins' house turned out to be below 2,000 feet, I would have to rent a test kitchen in a higher spot. I went first to the local chamber of commerce. "Would you have any maps showing the elevation of the mountains in this area?" I asked. "You mean altitude? Nope," said the young attendant, "folks around here don't bother measuring their mountains, they just enjoy 'em. Can I rent you a canoe?" Smiling and shaking my head, I walked across the street to city hall. "Altitude? Why do you care? No one here's interested in that, try the Ashe County Court House." I did. I worked my way laboriously through the departments of deeds and records, taxes, and the (woefully misnamed) mapping office. It was hard to believe: I was in the mountains, but I couldn't find anyone who knew the altitude (let alone who would admit to having baking problems attributed to it). In mounting despair, I told my story to yet another office manager. "What you need, honey," she said, "is to meet "The Accidental Baker.' " She sent me a few miles down the road to an old high school converted into offices, where, in the revamped cafeteria kitchen under the sign "The Accidental Baker," I found Jacky Brown, a friendly young woman wrapped in a chocolate-spattered apron.
"Glad to meet you. Sure, I can answer your questions, but I have to keep moving here," she laughed. "Why the name? I guess I'm an accidental baker because I was a psychologist until four years ago, when I decided to do this instead." I could feel the rush of purposeful energy as she moved swiftly from a whirling Hobart mixer to a glass case of warm muffins and a cash register facing a line of hungry customers. At the first break, she handed me a big lemonpoppy seed muffin. "Try it," she said with a confident smile.
"Sorry I don't know our exact altitude, but it's a good question. That's certainly what caused all my trouble. My old recipes just don't work up here." (Bingo! My luck had finally turned!) "After lots of experiments, I've finally figured it out and now I can bake anything. I do all the breads and desserts for Sweet Aromas Bakery in town. When I adjust a recipe, I start small, but the changes I make are really important. Breads are easy. I just punch 'em down more often, because they rise too fast. I add a little extra flour to cookie dough, cut a bit of sugar or leavening from muffins, and tinker with oven temperatures. Have you talked to Carolyn Shepherd, our county cooperative extension service agent? She's in Jefferson, at the Agricultural Services building."
Another lead . . . I was on my way.
Excerpted from Pie in the Sky Successful Baking at High Altitudes by Susan Purdy Copyright © 2005 by Susan Purdy. Excerpted by permission.
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