Baking with Buttermilk

Sift magazine traveled to Orwell, Vermont, to visit Diane St. Clair, owner of Animal Farm. St. Clair makes exquisite cultured butter for famous chefs, but we were more interested in butter-making’s byproduct: buttermilk. Baking with buttermilk is a sure way to tender, tangy, incredible baked goods with amazing depth of flavor.
 

 

baking with buttermilk via @kingarthurflour

“There is one degree of separation between me and the diner,” says St. Clair. “The milk comes directly from my cows. They know how the cows eat, what the cows eat, how they live…. I can explain what’s behind the food, the whole system of the farm.”

After cream is cultured on the farm and churned into butter, the liquid that remains is true buttermilk. It’s flavorful, a little bit rich, and an ideal ingredient for all kinds of recipes. Baking with buttermilk is a habit we think you should cultivate.

Give baking with buttermilk a try. Sift Magazine's Fall issue shows you how. Click To Tweet

baking with buttermilk via @kingarthurflour

Apricot-Ginger Scones

A good place to start is with a tender, buttery scone. These tasty morsels have a tender, light crumb that’s just right for breakfast with a bit of melting butter and a dab of jam or marmalade.

baking with buttermilk via @kingarthurflour

Buttermilk Apple Pie with a Streusel Crust

This pie’s filling is a little bit tart, a little bit butterscotch-y, baked in a bath of tangy buttermilk. The apples keep their shape and an al dente texture. The crust is tender and flaky and uses buttermilk, too. The oatmeal streusel on top provides a nice, buttery counterpoint to the pie.

baking with buttermilk via @kingarthurflour

Buttermilk Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

St. Clair is famous for this cheesecake, and after one bite you’ll understand why. Ultra-rich, it has an intense dulce de leche flavor that gives an enticing caramel note to each slice. Make it for a party or celebration — it’s that kind of food.

baking with buttermilk via @kingarthurflour

Orange-Scented Cinnamon Rolls

These soft, tender rolls bake on top of a sweet glaze. When you turn them over after baking, the molten sweetness drips down over the top. Orange zest in the filling adds a bright flavor, and the walnuts give the rolls a welcome crunch.

baking with buttermilk via @kingarthurflour

Buttermilk Pie

It follows that a dairy farmer would bake a buttermilk pie, and St. Clair’s favorite is this silky, delicate Southern custard version. It balances sweetness with the creamy tang of buttermilk, and is best served warm from the oven.

Buttermilk is one of our favorite baking ingredients: it makes things tender, tangy, and rich. We think you’ll be happy with the many ways to give it a try in our fall issue of Sift.

Susan Reid
About

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.

comments

  1. Petie S.

    Here’s a place to buy you own buttermilk culture to make your own real buttermilk. You can use same culture to make sour cream and butter. Good company, bought a culture for a special San Francisco sour dough starter culture. culturesforhealth

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Dried buttermilk can be successfully subbed into some recipes, Kathy – think scones rather than buttermilk cheesecake. You’ll want to follow the directions on the packaging, but it typically doesn’t reconstitute, so the powder is added along with other dry ingredients and water is added as the liquid. You can also follow Posie’s suggestion to other commenters above about how to make your own version of buttermilk. If we can help you think through the best substitution for a specific recipe, please give our free Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE. Mollie@KAF

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