Can I Substitute Buttermilk For Regular Milk?

Decorating By pyseas Updated 23 Sep 2007 , 8:24pm by cakenutz

pyseas Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 3:12pm
post #1 of 13

I'm going to make a spice cake today and have some buttermilk I need to use up. Can I substitute if for the regular milk in the cake batter?

How will it affect the taste?

12 replies
darandon Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 3:19pm
post #2 of 13

buttermilk has a very different flavor from regular milk,. It will change the flavor of the cake, but with a spice cake it should be ok. I'd try it if I was making a spice cake.

Jopalis Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 3:20pm
post #3 of 13

I read somewhere that using buttermilk instead changes the acidity and you have to alter the amounts of baking soda or baking powder....

daisy114 Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 3:24pm
post #4 of 13

I had the same question I was going to post today! I can't remember who it was but I remember someone saying they only use recipes with buttermilk as it makes the cake moist.

I wanted to try a recipe from Elisa Strauss but she wasn't using buttermilk and I was thinking of substituting the milk for buttermilk.

jwong9664 Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 3:29pm
post #5 of 13

i use buttermilk in all of my recipes... mostly box enhanced, instead of milk or water. it does bring a real moist texture to the cake that i don't always get from milk. hth

lecrn Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 3:50pm
post #6 of 13

My favorite spice cake recipe is a made with buttermilk. It's the buttermilk spice cake from the Cake Mix Doctor. If you want the recipe, let me know. I also use buttermilk in my choc. cake. It makes the cakes so moist & delicious.

pyseas Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 3:59pm
post #7 of 13

I think I'll give it a go! It's a scratch recipe from Family Circle...should I go ahead and leave all the other ingredients the same (baking powder, soda?) I think it calls for about 1/2 cup milk.

Denise Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 4:11pm
post #8 of 13

I use buttermilk exclusively in my cakes. I use a doctored mix and I get RAVES about my cakes. I had heard that buttermilk made great chocolate cakes so I gave it a whirl and it was a major hit. I can't bake without it.

chicapastel Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 4:27pm
post #9 of 13

if i combine vinegar and whole milk it´s the same that buttermilk?

nrctermite Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 4:42pm
post #10 of 13
Originally Posted by chicapastel

if i combine vinegar and whole milk it´s the same that buttermilk?

Yes, 1 tablespoon vinegar (or lemon juice) plus enough milk to make 1 cup. I prefer vinegar.

pyseas: I think I'll give it a go! It's a scratch recipe from Family Circle...should I go ahead and leave all the other ingredients the same (baking powder, soda?) I think it calls for about 1/2 cup milk.

I would leave everything else the same. icon_biggrin.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

Cupcake_Kisses Posted 21 Sep 2007 , 10:26pm
post #11 of 13

I would personally cut the amount of baking soda. I tried to make a cake with left over buttermilk instead of regular and it flopped. I couldn't figure out why until someone told me there was too much acidity in the cake, so I would cut about a 1/4 of your baking soda from the recipe. icon_smile.gif


Jopalis Posted 23 Sep 2007 , 8:14pm
post #12 of 13

I got this information from Squirrely Cakes:

First of all, are there molasses in this spice cake recipe? If so, there is already baking soda in the recipe because molasses are acidic and the baking soda releases the carbon dioxide gas.

Is there enough baking soda to also work with the buttermilk, that is difficult to say. Maybe, but you will have to experiment.

Cupcake_Kisses stated that the buttermilk substitution ( when regular milk is called for) causes too high a level of acidity and that is correct. But you want baking soda in a recipe where you are using acidic ingredients like buttermilk, sour cream, regular cocoa, coffee, yogurt etc. The baking soda is needed where you have acidic ingredients in your recipe. It doesn't make the cake more acidic. So you wouldn't want to decrease the amount of baking soda added.

When we talk about Dutch Processed cocoa, it is alkalized. So that is why you shouldn't really substitute Dutch Processed cocoa for regular cocoa when it is called for, where there is baking soda in a recipe. But this will depend on what other ingredients are in the recipe and if baking soda action is working on these other ingredients and therefore doesn't have much affect when you substitute the Dutch Processed Cocoa. For example a recipe that also contains sour cream and coffee - two other acidic ingredients may be fine if you use the Dutch Processed cocoa in place of regular cocoa called for. Regular cocoa is acidic.

Think about it in terms of how people drink baking soda mixed in water, to neutralize too much acid in their stomach, this is one of the functions of baking soda.

The buttermilk is the acidic ingredient, so it needs baking soda to make the finished goods leaven properly. If the recipe has some baking soda in it already, the substituting of the buttermilk for regular milk called for, may work just fine.

I will use buttermilk as a substitute when there is already baking soda in a recipe. But a lot depends on the other ingredients in the recipe. Is there enough soda to work with the acidity of the buttermilk or is there only a small amount to work with ingredients such as coffee or regular cocoa? Those are things to consider and experiment with.

Baking soda is 4 times the strength of baking powder - which also contains some baking soda. So you cannot just substitute one for the other. And too much soda will cause changes in leavening action, a funny smell to a cake and sometimes a funny taste.

The taste isn't adversely affected from the buttermilk, in fact in many recipes it enhances taste, in small quantities anyway. Where it does affect taste is in something like buttermilk pancakes, where it is a main ingredient. It will give a recipe a distinct taste but in a recipe containing other flavourings, you will not notice it.

You are usually best off using the milk called for in the recipe but in this case, I think it may well be fine if you leave the baking soda the way it is.

The issue can be that the acid ingredients if not used in conjunction with some baking soda, will have an affect on the way the gasses are producing the leavening action. So you may not get as good results with the rise and texture of your baked good.

cakenutz Posted 23 Sep 2007 , 8:24pm
post #13 of 13

Well said Jopalis. Baking powder is alkaline so it does't cause acidity. icon_smile.gif

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