What is the difference between buttermilk, sour cream, and milk for baking?

Baking is a fun and exciting method to create yummy, delectable delights. Baking is, at its core, a basic chemical process. Everything must be precisely measured in order to get the desired result.

This balancing act is constantly on every baker’s mind. We opted to face it front on since it is such an important aspect of baking. So, today we’ll discuss the differences between buttermilk, sour cream, and milk for baking.

Each ingredient contains chemical components that help to improve and flavor your baked products. Continue reading to discover more about these three ingredients and how to utilize them effectively in your baking.

The Difference between Buttermilk, Sour Cream, or Milk

There is a delicate balance of acidic and alkaline elements in each baked goods recipe. Your final goods will not rise properly if there is insufficient acidity.

Sour cream and buttermilk are more acidic than ordinary milk. That’s why they’re usually paired with baking soda, which is more alkaline.

Milk, on the other hand, is best suited for baking powder recipes. One explanation is because baking powder contains an acidic ingredient. This means you won’t have to add anything more to your recipe.

Baking with Buttermilk

What is the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the word buttermilk? Pancakes? Biscuits? Buttermilk is used in the preparation of all of these delectable baked delicacies.

So, what exactly is buttermilk? Buttermilk, in its most basic form, is what is left over after creating butter. As a result, it is low in fat and one of the healthiest options on our list.

Buttermilk adds tenderness and moisture to the finished dish. What’s the reason? It includes lactic acid, which aids in the breakdown of gluten strands present in baked foods. Not only that, but lactic acid promotes the growth of specific bacteria that soften and smooth out the batter’s consistency.

Furthermore, buttermilk contains trace levels of baking soda. During the baking process, this well-known chemical leavening agent causes the batter to rise.

Baking soda is alkaline, according to science. When it reacts with the acids in buttermilk, it produces carbon dioxide bubbles. The heat from the baking process causes these bubbles to grow once inside the oven.

See also  9 Best Parchment Paper Substitutes When You’ve Run Out Of It

As a consequence, fluffy baked items such as pancakes are produced. When you bake biscuits using buttermilk, the chemical reaction elevates the dough, causing the layers to split and become flaky. These bubbles give muffins and cakes the crumbly, but moist, texture we all know and love.

A third reason is that buttermilk has the most water when compared to sour cream and milk. This aids in liquifying the batter without drying it out, like milk does.

You may produce your own buttermilk at home. If your recipe asks for buttermilk and you don’t have any on hand, try this DIY substitute:

  1. Take a spoonful of lemon juice or white vinegar. 1 teaspoon cream of tartar may also be used.
  2. In a cup of warm milk, combine the ingredient of your choosing.
  3. Let the mixture sit for up to 10 minutes.

Buttermilk Substitutes

Try one of the following alternatives to buttermilk in your recipe:

  • One cup yogurt
  • cup milk and cup yogurt
  • cup milk and cup sour cream

Baking with Sour Cream

Sour cream is well-known for its thick, creamy texture. It’s manufactured by acidifying ordinary milk, which gives it a sour taste. Its acidic nature is what gives your baked products their delicate and bouncy texture.

Sour cream is used in a variety of dishes, including sponge cakes and pound cakes. Sour cream adds buoyancy to these baked items, which tend to turn out dry and flat. It also increases the moisture content of the plants.

Keep in mind that sour cream has more fat but less water. If you want to use sour cream in a dish but don’t want the additional fat, choose a fat-free or light version.

It is worth noting, however, that these two options may change the flavor of the final product. Not only will the taste be altered, but the consistency will as well. It may not be as smooth and rich as you would want.

Sour Cream Substitutes

If your recipe asks for sour cream, either plain cream or yogurt may be substituted. Because they all contain the microorganisms Streptococcus diacetylactis, they are both acceptable alternatives. This bacterium increases the acidity of your dish while decreasing the pH balance. This, in turn, aids in the softening and tenderization of baked foods.

See also  7 Magnificent Graham Flour Substitute For Baking Bread

Sour cream, like buttermilk, contains lactic acid. This acid aids in the breakdown of gluten strands in baked products, resulting in a moist and pleasant finished product.

You may substitute buttermilk for the sour cream. Buttermilk, on the other hand, has a more fluid viscosity. To get the same consistency as sour cream, add butter.

1 cup warm milk cream and 1 tablespoon lemon juice may be used in lieu of 1 cup sour cream. Allow the mixture to remain overnight, and you’ll have curdled milk cream that you can use in recipes like sour cream.

You can also beat together these two ingredients:

  • cup buttermilk
  • cup butter

[Related Article: Can You Substitute Ricotta Cheese for Sour Cream?]

Baking with Milk

Milk is a commonplace component. It is more handy since milk can be found in practically every household.

Milk may seem to add moisture to your dish, but it really does the reverse. Milk may make the finished product dry, thick, and even boring if you’re not cautious.

The reason for this is that milk has a higher alkaline pH balance. Furthermore, it is incapable of compensating for the acidity of baked products. This decreases the number of carbon dioxide bubbles. If the batter has too few bubbles, it will not rise as much as it should when baking. As a result, your baked items will become dry and hard.

Milk Substitute

Buttermilk may be used in place of milk. Keep in mind that buttermilk has a strong acidity that interacts with baking soda. They combine to generate a leavening agent, which aids in making the finished product fluffy and moist.

At the same time, buttermilk may interfere with the activity of baking powder. It stops it from reacting, causing the finished product to droop once it has cooled. The combination of the two might also give your food an unusual flavor.

To compensate, apply the following two recommendations for every cup of buttermilk used:

  • Use 2 teaspoons less baking powder
  • Add half a teaspoon more of baking soda

[Related Article: 10 Best Dry Milk Substitutes You Should Try]

Our Final Verdict

Consider yourself a baking expert after learning the difference between buttermilk, sour cream, and milk. You have the knowledge to choose the best component for your next dish.

See also  The 5 Best Substitute For Margarine In Baking & Cooking

If you use buttermilk or sour cream, for example, you’ll get a moist, soft, and bouncy cake. If you use milk, on the other hand, your cake will have a hard and substantial structure. You’ll also see a lovely, golden crust all around.

That’s all there is to it! Three distinct components with three distinct chemical compounds provide three distinct outcomes.

So, the next time you bake anything, utilize all three of the components we discussed today. Then, observe which one has the most delectable taste without sacrificing any of the moistness. You may also be interested in 10 Best Baking Storage Containers and Buying Guide.


Is it better to bake with sour cream or buttermilk?

While buttermilk shines in baking, sour cream’s richness allows it to be used in sauces and dressings as well as baked items. Also, since both chemicals are acidic enough to activate baking soda, it’s no surprise that baked goods that ask for either utilize baking soda rather than baking powder.

Is it better to bake with sour cream or milk?

Baking with Sour Cream: The creamy texture of sour cream keeps baked products moister than milk. Sour cream is a wonderful alternative for recipes that are known to produce drier outcomes, such as sponge cakes.

Can I substitute buttermilk for milk and sour cream?

3 cup butter. It’s a bit more difficult to replace half-and-half with buttermilk.In a baked dish, you may use buttermilk instead of sour cream, but the buttermilk is more liquid. To get the same body, you’ll need to add butter. 1 cup sour cream may be replaced with -3

Can you use buttermilk instead of sour cream in baking?

Buttermilk may be used in place of sour cream.

For every 1 cup of sour cream called for in a recipe, substitute 34 cup buttermilk.

What is the benefit of sour cream in baking?

Sour cream provides moisture without thinning the batter as a liquid would. Because sour cream adds moisture without thinning down the batter, the result is a cake with a very soft, fine crumb.

Why do bakers like to use buttermilk?

Buttermilk is made up of a range of acids that are produced during the fermentation process and provide advantages to baked foods. For starters, the acidity adds a sour taste to many types of sweet baked delicacies. Second, it activates baking soda, resulting in the production of the gas that causes dough or batter to rise.

What kind of milk is best for baking cakes?

Editor: When preparing recipes in the test kitchens where I’ve worked, we tended to use whole milk by default. However, if a recipe does not indicate which kind of milk to use, I believe you may use whole milk, 2%, or even 1% milk with the same results.

What milk is better for baking?

The more fat there is in the milk, the more the texture of the bake changes. You want your baked goods to be moist, so use milk with a greater fat level to accomplish this. In most circumstances, whole milk is the best milk to use for baking.

What is the preferred milk for baking?

In baking, most types of drinking milk (nonfat, low-fat, and whole) may be used interchangeably. You give up richness when you use nonfat or 1 percent milk. If you want to reduce the amount of fat in your baking, use 2 percent.

Are buttermilk and sour milk interchangeable?

Buttermilk is not the same as sour milk.

Buttermilk is either purposely cultivated to have a sour flavor or is a byproduct of butter production. If raw milk sour, it is absolutely safe to drink, and this is how the majority of the world consumes milk. However, if pasteurized milk soured, it was already spoiled.

Rate this post