5 Tips for Successful Baking On Steamy Summer Days
Steamy or rainy conditions can be a baker's worst nightmare. Our "weatherproofing" tips will ensure your breads and cookies turn out great even during these Dog Days of summer.
Steamy or rainy weather can wreak havoc on everything from your home to your hair. And baked goods are no exception. That’s because humidity—a measurement that tells us how much moisture is in the air—can be a baker’s worst nightmare. But sometimes, you have to bake, and it can’t wait for good weather. These tips will help ensure your cookies and breads turn out great even during the Dog Days of Summer!
Humidity Affects Ingredients’ Performance
On muggy or rainy days, when humidity is extremely high (think 70 percent or more), your dry baking ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda actually soak up moisture from the surrounding air. If you’ve ever seen your flour clumped or “caked” together, this is the reason why. And this tiny amount of extra moisture is enough to alter the quality of your cookies, cakes, candies, and breads in not-so-good ways.
But before you throw in the kitchen towel, try these easy tips to weatherproof your baked goods on the most humid of days.
Tips for Successful Baking On Steamy Summer Days
1. Lessen the Recipe’s Liquid
To help counterbalance the additional moisture your dry ingredients soak up from the air, try reducing the amount of liquid in the recipe by about one-quarter. (For example, if your cake recipe calls for 1 cup of milk, reduce it to ¾ cup. Reserve the other ¼ cup.) If your cake batter looks too dry once all the ingredients are mixed together, add a splash of milk from the amount you set aside. Do this one tablespoon at a time until your batter softens to the desired consistency.
2. Store Flour and Sugar in the Refrigerator or Freezer
If flour and sugar are stored in the refrigerator or freezer rather than your pantry, humidity can’t get to either one as easily. As an added benefit, keeping these ingredients cool also helps keep them fresher longer, as well as bug-free. Just remember to always return your flour and sugar to room temperature before mixing! If you don’t, your breads and cakes won’t rise.
3. Increase Baking Time
Have you ever tested for doneness after the shortest baking time, only to find your baked goods are still a tad underdone? The extra water in your ingredients is likely to blame. To correct this, leave your goods in the oven to bake for an additional 3-5 minutes (which allows extra time for the liquid to cook off). To avoid overbaking, continue testing for doneness every couple of minutes.
4. Run a Fan or the A/C
To help lower humidity levels in your kitchen on these dog days of summer, first, close all kitchen windows. Having them open only invites humid air indoors. Next, run a ceiling fan, dehumidifier, or your home’s air conditioning system for at least an hour before you start baking. Cooler air isn’t able to hold as much moisture as warm air, so doing this helps push any extra moisture out of the room.
Check our Best Days To Bake for even better results in the kitchen!
5. Store Baked Goods in an Airtight Container, Or in the Fridge
Even after baking, there’s still a chance humidity could ruin your fresh-baked goods. When left out at room temperature, they can absorb moisture, which can turn your crispy ginger snaps into sticky, soft, or stale inedibles that you’ll end up tossing in the trash. To avoid this, be sure to cover or store cookies, cupcakes, and cakes in an airtight container or in the refrigerator. A spot next to the flour will do nicely!
Got any other “bad weather” baking tips and tricks? We’d love to hear them!
Tiffany Means is a freelance writer and a degreed meteorologist. She specializes in weather forecasting and enjoys making the subject of weather (and the science behind it) more relatable. She currently resides in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Nice tips! I also keep flour, meal and sugar in refrigerator. Flour must be warmed up to room temperature or the rise will be very slow for yeast based baking. My mother now believes the heat pump affects baking.
If I’m reading this correctly, high humidity could be the root cause of dough not rising? I’m in Florida. Started baking bread in April and it came out *perfectly*. Last 3-4 batches didn’t rise well.
I am elated to read how humidity IS a force in which to be reckoned. I bake cakes and cupcakes for my job. I thought this, in theory, when my cakes collapsed on humid days. My coworkers made fun of the idea. “Blame it on the rain” now has a sunny theme! Your research has saved me countless hours in the kitchen!
We’re glad you found the article helpful, Dawn! Feel free to send us cupcakes for testing 😀
Thank you so much for the info. Living in New Orleans this is an everyday problem that I did not know how to combat. I made some cookies yesterday and they went flat. Now I know.
I want 2 make chocolate chip cookies. The only liquid required is eggs and vanilla. I live in a high humidity climate. How do I reduce the recipe liquid and still get good cookies? I put all dry ingredients in the refrigerator. Thank u.
Same question, please!!
And thank you!!!
Same Maybe just add another tablespoon or two of flour?
I’m in Baton Rouge and humidity really puts a damper on baking. It took me a while to figure it out and I still have issues. Now, I throw my dry ingredients into a low temp preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, turning the oven off after 8 or so minutes and that removes the accumulated moisture. Of course, let it cool to room temp for a few minutes before using, stirring frequently to cool it all.
This works on tortilla chips that have been left open as well. #kidsandchipbags
Thank you Tiffany Means. Good to know!
I had to add a comment about storing things in the fridge or freezer. If you are like me, an average person with standard size refrigerator which is not a top of the line new version, your fridge is not the best place to store items to keep dry as that also has humidity inside.
To store dry goods, like flour and grains, you need good containers with a vacuum seal and store in a dry spot away from area in kitchen from the stove. Most kitchens in apartments were afterthoughts just to provide a cooking facility not a storage area.
I did appreciate the helpful hints to achieve a proper baking during the high humidity days, I just wouldn’t bake in my apartment on those days if I could avoid it.