Milk and dairy are frequently used in baking. Why? For flavor, fat, and to help moisten the sweet treat. Buttermilk is one of my favorite ingredients to use, in baking and cooking. Read more to find out why!
In history, buttermilk was the liquid leftover from churning butter or cream. The tart-flavor is natural and is due to the lactic acid. Lactic acid also makes buttermilk thicker than regular milk. Seeing chunks in your buttermilk is OK. Today, you can buy pasteruized buttermilk that has been laced with the bacteria. Do you want to make your own buttermilk? Combine one cup of regular milk with 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar, let it sit at room temp for 15 minutes and use as needed.
The natural lactic acid in the milk softens gluten strands, making cake and other baked goods, very soft and moist. Since it is naturally low-fat, you had a nice "tang" flavor without adding extra calories. Buttermilk helps any baked good made with baking soda or baking powder rise very well and evenly. See, this is WHY I love baking with buttermilk instead of regular milk.
Next time you are baking, and substituting buttermilk for regular milk, slightly decrease the baking powder or baking soda. (Approx. 1/4 teaspoon less.) Enjoy your extra-tender baked goods and tell everyone your new baking secret!