Very warm and dry conditions with variable cloudiness will continue through the weekend, with a record high temperature on Friday a possibility. Highs will climb into the mid-60s Thursday and could reach 68 by Friday, topping the old record by a degree. Very slight cooling comes in over the weekend, but that will only drop the highs into the lower 60s. Conditions stay dry into next week, but a couple of storm fronts seem ready to move through the region starting Wednesday.
Yesterday I mentioned that you may have to make some adjustments in cooking at elevation. At sea level, water boils when its temperature reaches 212 degrees F. But up here at about 5,000 feet elevation, water will boil at 203 degrees. That’s because there’s about 20% less air pressure up here. With less air pressure, liquid water molecules find it easier to break away and become water vapor molecules, taking less heat to make water boil.
But if you’re baking a cake and not boiling bratwurst, why should a lower boiling temperature make a difference? That’s where chemistry comes in. Cakes, muffins and the like all have water as a part of their makeup.
Since one of the ingredients in cakes is water, that lowered boiling temperature will affect the cake’s cooking process. But there’s more to it than just that. The lower pressure will also affect yeast… in particular how fast the fermentation process causes the gas it emits to expand, which in turn affects how fast breads and cakes rise. With lower pressure, the gas bubbles expand quicker, which means that you can use less leavening agent (yeast) when baking at higher elevations.