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Have you ever begun making a favorite cake recipe that called for buttermilk only to find you didn’t have any? If this is the case, it is reasonable to question whether milk may be substituted. You may be wondering what the difference is between whole milk and buttermilk in a cake.

When it comes to baking, there is a significant difference between buttermilk and whole milk. Since buttermilk has more acid than whole milk, it interacts more in the batter. You’re also modifying the ratio of dry to wet components since buttermilk is thicker, which influences the batter’s texture.

Knowing the distinctions between buttermilk and whole milk and which one to use to make the tastiest cakes is essential for every baker. Continue reading to learn more about this topic!

Should I Make My Cake Using Buttermilk or Milk?

In general, while baking a cake, you must use the item specified in the recipe. The texture and color of the cake will be affected if the wrong one is used. Individuals with sensitive taste buds will notice a change in the flavor of the cake when comparing buttermilk and whole milk batters.

If you used the same recipe to make a cake with buttermilk and another with milk and placed the pieces on a plate in front of you, you would most likely notice significant changes.

The texture is the initial distinction.

The cake with buttermilk will be fluffier than the one with milk. You will also realize that it is more soft than the milk cake.

Up to 12 inch 3-layer cakes may be stored in this container. This container was ideal for transporting my enormous cakes. This Cake Storage Jar is available on Amazon! * By the way, I’ve always wanted to be able to properly preserve my cakes, but I’ve never found a nice container that could accommodate my enormous cakes. I did, however, come across an Extra Large Cake Carrier lately.

There would be a color difference if the two types of milk were used. The milk version would be somewhat darker than the buttermilk version. This is because buttermilk has more acid than milk.

If you take a mouthful of both, you’ll notice that the one prepared with buttermilk has a more nuanced flavor. Yet, it lacks tang. Meanwhile, the milk-based cake tastes sweeter.

In general, when it comes to buttermilk and milk, I like to stick to the recipe precisely. Experimenting with your own recipes is always a good idea!

Can Buttermilk be used in place of milk in a cake recipe?

Buttermilk and whole milk should not be used interchangeably. Buttermilk has more acid. As a consequence, using the incorrect one alters how the component interacts with other ingredients in the cake. The secret to making a great cake is to use the recipe’s ingredients.

Buttermilk is more acidic than whole milk by nature. Whole milk has a pH range of 6.7 to 6.9, whereas buttermilk has a pH range of 4.4 to 4.8.

The interaction of the lactic acid with the baking powder, baking soda, and other components impacts the fluffiness and consistency of the cake.

Here’s a video that explains whether to use buttermilk or milk in a cake:

*Side Note: You may also be interested in learning why your cakes might occasionally turn out Crumbly or Moist. I investigated the source of the issue and created an essay on Avoiding and Repairing Crumbly and Moist Cakes, which you can read here!

Second, if you combine whole milk and buttermilk in a glass, you will see that the buttermilk is much thicker. When you use whole milk instead of buttermilk, your cake will curdle because the water droplets cannot properly spread through the creamed butter and sugar.

As a result, your cake would turn lumpy.

You may also adjust the nutritional value of the cake. Most buttermilk has around 2.2 grams of fat and 99 calories per cup, while milk contains approximately 9 grams of fat and 157 calories.

What Happens If You Substitute Milk for Buttermilk?

Using milk instead of buttermilk alters the flavor, color, and texture of the cake. The difference in acid levels between milk and buttermilk causes the majority of these alterations. Some variations arise due to variances in fat levels.

Buttermilk imparts various properties to a cake that whole milk does not. First, buttermilk serves as a cake tenderizer. As a result, your cakes will be moister.

This happens when the acid in the buttermilk disturbs the hydrogen ions in the proteins in your cake, causing them to unravel. If you use milk instead of buttermilk, the ions will unravel too much, resulting in a less soft cake.

*By the way, I just published an essay titled The Differences and Similarities Between Buttermilk and Heavy Cream. This page explains the genuine distinctions between the two, as well as whether you may use one over the other in a recipe. This article may be found here!

Second, buttermilk adds a tangy taste to the cake. If you’ve ever taken a taste of cake and felt it was excessively sweet, it’s because the baker didn’t use buttermilk.

Although buttermilk cakes are still sweet, they offer a far higher degree of taste.

Finally, the acid in the buttermilk aids in the rising of the cake. As your cake’s alkaline elements, such as baking powder, mix with the acid in buttermilk, a neutralizing action occurs, causing your cake to rise.

If you substitute milk for buttermilk, the starches in your cake will break down and gel at a lower temperature.

This might cause your cake to flop instead of rising properly!

When you substitute milk for buttermilk, it becomes more difficult to get your cake to brown properly. The acid in the milk prevents the starch reaction from taking place. As a result, cakes produced with milk are somewhat deeper in color.

Is Buttermilk Used to Make Cake Moist?

Overall, buttermilk makes a cake moister than milk. The acid in buttermilk reacts with the gluten and other components in your cake, which is why buttermilk cakes are more moist.

Buttermilk may help break down lengthy gluten threads in a dish. If these threads are not separated, your cake will be harder.

The acid in buttermilk also aids in the breakdown of protein. If the protein strands do not break enough, your cake will not be fluffy.

*By the way, I just published an article on How To Soften A Hard Cake. This article discusses how to soften a hard cake without losing its texture. This article may be found here!

Is Buttermilk a Better Baking Ingredient Than Milk?

In general, using buttermilk instead of milk while baking is not always preferable. You should use the dairy product specified in the recipe since it will alter the texture, color, and flavor of your baked dish. Each has a different quantity of fat and acid, which impacts your baking.

Milk is the ideal option in certain baked items if a coarser texture is desired. Also, if you want your baked items to be extremely sweet, add milk.

Whole milk should always be used since skim or reduced-fat milk will make baked items excessively harsh.

Buttermilk is an excellent option for a variety of baked products. It causes chemical processes required in baking to take place at a different pace.

As a result, gluten and protein are better broken down, giving your baked products a superior structure. Moreover, buttermilk gives baked items a tang that keeps them from being too sweet.

You’ll adore the hue of buttermilk-based baked items.

Although I like doing my mixing by hand, I greatly prefer using a stand mixer. I just posted an article on the 3 Best Stand Mixers for Bakers at Every Stage of Their Baking Journey. After an examination of many stand mixers, the KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer was named the Best Overall Mixer. This stand mixer is available on Amazon!

How Does One Make Their Own Buttermilk?

As a general rule, there are several methods for producing buttermilk. One of the easiest is to pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar into a 1 cup measuring cup before adding whole milk. Mix everything together and set aside for 5 minutes. The secret is to thicken your dairy product using an acid.

Buttermilk may be made in a variety of methods, including:

  • Add 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar to 1 cup milk and allow to sit at room temperature until thick.
  • Stir to combine 3/4 cup plain homemade yogurt and ¼ cup milk.
  • Combine 1/3 cup powdered milk, 1 cup water and 1 tbsp. white vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes before using.
  • Add 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice to 1 cup milk and stir to combine.
  • Add 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar to 1 cup milk and allow to sit until thick at room temperature.
  • Stir to combine 1/2 cup plain homemade Greek yogurt and ½ cup whole milk.
  • Combine 3 tbsp. whole milk with 1 cup of sour cream.
  • Stir to combine 3 tbsp. Greek yogurt with 1 cup buttermilk.
  • Add 1 3/4 tsp cream of tartar t to 1 cup milk and let it sit at room temperature until thick.
  • Stir to combine 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup whole milk.

Ensure sure the components are added to cold milk rather than boiling milk.

When you add your acid to hot milk, it will curdle. When added to cold milk, it curdles considerably more slowly, causing your milk to thicken to the consistency of buttermilk.

Last Thoughts

Making handmade cakes is a lovely way to show your family and friends how much you care about them.

To obtain the best results, I use the sort of milk specified in the recipe. If you don’t have buttermilk, use a buttermilk replacement to create your own!