I first started stress baking during my sophomore year in college. Instead of studying for important exams, I would buy a box cake mix and bake for my friends. The first thing I ever baked was a batch of Pillsbury Funfetti cupcakes from a box mix in a tiny communal kitchen in my college dorm.
I've come a long way since then.
I started Hummingbird High back in 2011, when I first moved to Denver, Colorado. At the time, I was working a fairly intense and awful job. Every day, all I wanted to do was come home and bake to relieve the stress. However, whenever I would bake one of my favorite recipes (that had worked in the past), I found myself with sunken cakes, rock hard cookies, and cupcakes that looked like sticky puddles of goop. Having never lived anywhere besides coastal cities, I had no idea at the time that baking at high altitude is completely different from baking at sea level! There are weird quirks like water boiling at a different temperature, as well as air pressure being significantly lower — this affects the time in which you need to bake things at, and the amount of leavener you use in the recipe.
So I started a blog to help me learn more about high-altitude baking. I decided that the best way to do so was to bake through my favorite cookbook, The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, and try and adapt the recipes to work at high altitude. And so Hummingbird High started out as a record of my attempts, trials and (many) errors, and eventually, my successes.
A lot of food bloggers out there think that baking through a cookbook is kind of a cop-out. But it taught me a lot of different things that I never would have figured out if I'd just kept bouncing from cookbook to cookbook, blog to blog, and recipe to recipe. It taught me how to have results that were consistent and delicious every time. My project was like a crash course in baking school — it taught me a lot about the chemistry of baking. I examined every failure and every puddle of goop through a scientific lens (probably to the dismay of many readers), and doing so taught me to understand how ingredients work together. It was only then that I realized I'd taken the baking process for granted my entire life. And for that, I'll always credit my time in Denver for teaching me how to troubleshoot recipes and becoming a better baker in general.
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