Baking in High Humidity
Baking in high humidity takes some trial and error
Baking in high-humidity climates takes some trial and error. You’ll have to do some experimenting because:
- Flour absorbs moisture from the air in hot, humid climates; and
- Different areas have different levels of humidity, so
you won’t know exactly how much liquid to add until you develop a feel for it. But this article can help you in that process. Follow these tips, and you’ll be serving up crusty breads, fluffy cakes, and tender cinnamon rolls before you know it!
How much moisture is too much?
Most recipes aren't written with humid conditions in mind, so you will often find that the amount called for ends up being a bit too much. Of course, it's much easier to start with less and then add more, than it is to add too much and try to remove liquid from a batter or dough!
Start by setting aside about a quarter of the liquid. For example, if the recipe calls for a cup of milk, start with ¾ cup and continue with the recipe. If it looks too dry when done, add in more liquid a tablespoon at a time. In time, you will begin to get a feel for how much, if at all, you need to adjust the liquid in your baking recipes.
Working with dough in humid conditions
If you’re working with a yeast dough, or anything that requires kneading or rolling on a flour-dusted surface, be careful during this step. It’s very easy in humid climates to add too much flour to your dough this way. You want a soft, fluffy dough, not a stiff, dry one. It’s best, if you have a stand mixer, to let the mixer do the kneading and then use a very light hand while doing any countertop work, to avoid working excess flour into the dough.
Your room may not be "room temperature"
“Room temperature” also takes on a different meaning in hot, humid climates. If a recipe calls for softened butter, that does not mean half-melted. If that describes a stick of butter that sits out too long on your countertop, then you have to make sure it’s a bit more chilled than that. While it’s true that cold eggs and milk can have a negative effect on a batter (which is why many recipes recommend bringing all ingredients to room temperature before beginning), so too can fat that’s too warm. Butter, margarine and shortening need to be firm enough to break down into small pieces and do their delicious little jobs.
Give it a lift
Our last tip covers another problem faced by bakers in hot, humid climates: flat, dense baked goods.
To make your cupcakes, pancakes and muffins light and fluffy, the secret is in the eggs. Instead of beating in the eggs whole, always separate them and beat the whites with an electric mixer until they hold stiff peaks. Set them aside. When the recipe calls for adding the eggs, add the yolks only. After all the ingredients have been added, fold in the egg whites gently by hand. This will give your baked goods lift, volume and softness.
Good luck, and happy baking!