Many baking recipes call for buttermilk, and sometimes enthusiastic home bakers reach into the refrigerator, only to find they have run out of this essential ingredient. So actually, what is buttermilk and why is it important in various baking recipes? Buttermilk is essentially slightly sour milk; the lactic acid in it lends it sourness. It is also a little thicker when compared to regular milk because the proteins in it are curdled. Aside from this, its fat content is also lower than that of cream or regular milk.

Cultured buttermilk is a pasteurised milk product; low fat milk is curdled and soured using a lactic acid bacteria culture. Certain dairies add a few flecks of butter to simulate this reaction. Buttermilk is a very crucial part of baking and many baked goods use a combination of this mildly acidic product & baking soda. It lends a tenderness and lightness to many baked products.


Add the Buttermilk Touch

When you use this ingredient, you will find that your biscuits are flakier; your pound cake will be crumby and moist with a tangy edge. Your scones, quick breads and muffins will also be magically improved when you use buttermilk while making them.

While buttermilk is acidic, it’s nowhere as sour as vinegar or lemon juice; the lactic acid it contains is mildly acidic and no less than a boon to bakers. When the batter is slightly acidic, it makes your baked goods more tender and moist, as it helps break down the tough strands of gluten.

When you use it in muffins, it prevents the walnuts and cherries in them from acquiring a bluish tinge. The acid in the buttermilk adds a thick consistency, softness and richness to the things you are baking. So when your recipe calls for buttermilk and you find you are completely out of it, what can you do? Here are some alternatives you can use:

#1 Milk and Vinegar/Lemon

Put 1 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice in a standard 1-Cup measuring cup. Top this with either whole/low fact milk. Stir the mixture well and then let it settle for about 2 minutes; after that you will find that the milk has curdled and become acidic as well. If you require 2 cups of buttermilk, add 1 tbsp. + I tsp. of vinegar or lemon juice to the milk (you won’t need 2 full tablespoons).

#2 Yogurt & Milk

Stir in 1/4th cup milk into 3/4th cup plain yogurt; this creates a nice thick buttermilk substitute.

#3 Milk & Cream of Tartar

Mix 1 3/4th teaspoon of tartar into 1 cup of milk. This ensures the mixture doesn’t become lumpy. Now mix 2 tbsp. of milk with the cream of tartar and then add in the rest of the cupful of milk. The acidic nature of cream of tartar simulates the acidic environment in the buttermilk.

#4 Yogurt & Almond Milk (this is a non-dairy option)

Mix 3/4th cup almond milk yogurt with 1/4th cup almond milk. Next, just add around ½ tsp. of vinegar to this mixture and stir it well. You can also substitute the almond milk products with yogurt or soy milk.

Baking is a very creative process and involves a certain amount of science too. If you are a novice, it’s best not to experiment with different ingredients. However, once you become more confident about your baking skills, you can try using these buttermilk substitutes we just discussed.

At Ganache Patisserie you will find fantastic basic and exotic breads for everyday consumption as well as for accompaniments with special dishes. Come; explore our delicious and scrumptious world of goodies.

Thanks for reading,
Ganache Patisserie
(02) 9967 2882