Here's How the Weather Can Affect Baking
Whenever it was raining or thickly humid outside (which is often in Alabama), my grandmother would look out the window and declare that “we can’t make divinity today.” Whether we actually had any plans to make divinity that day wasn’t relevant—the weather was unfit for such things and that’s all anyone needed to know.
It turns out my grandmother was onto something: Excess moisture in the air will keep the Southern candy—a cloud-like concoction made of egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, and usually pecans—from setting. Since sugar is hygroscopic, which means it attracts water molecules, any moisture sugar touches will cling to it and turn fluffy confections into gooey messes.
Depending on how well your kitchen is weather-controlled, you may have come across this kind of culinary disaster. If you have, don’t be discouraged—you may be able to outsmart Mother Nature next time. Here’s how:
1. Avoid meringues and divinity during wet weather.
If you can, avoid making meringues or divinity when it’s raining or humid outside. The moisture in the air is absorbed by the sugar in the already precarious egg white-to-sugar balance, which makes it soft and unable to rise. While there are ways to work around this inconvenience, sometimes it’s best just to save yourself the headache and bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies instead.
WATCH: How To Make Meringue Cookies
2. Reduce your liquid when it’s hot and humid.
Decreasing the amount of liquid in your recipe could help you achieve the rainy day fluffy baked goods you’re after. The Farmer’s Almanac suggests reducing the liquid by about one quarter, so if your recipe calls for a cup of milk, add just ¾ cup instead.
3. Add liquid when it’s cool and dry.
This adjusting-the-liquid-according-to-the-weather idea works backward too: If it’s bone dry outside, try adding some liquid to your recipe to make up for the lack of moisture in the air. If the recipe calls for a cup of milk, add 1 ¾ cup of milk instead.
4. Adjust the baking time.
You could consider adding or subtracting a few minutes from the suggested baking time, depending on what the weather is like outside. Excess moisture in your ingredients can cause the finished product to come out underdone, so you may want to tack on some time to account for the wetness (or vice versa). However, this is a rocky road we’re walking—make sure to test your baked goods for doneness often so they don’t end up overbaked.
5. Store flour and sugar in the refrigerator.
Keeping your flour and sugar in the refrigerator is a great way to keep key ingredients away from outside variables that could affect your baked goods. Plus, they’ll actually remain fresher longer this way. It’s a win-win!