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Sweet on Buttermilk

The not-so-secret ingredient to tender and tasty baked goods, custards, and puddings.

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You may have purchased a quart of buttermilk the last time you made pancakes, but it’s unlikely that you regularly keep it in the fridge and, well, that might just be a mistake. First, it is fantastic in both pancakes and waffles (as you already know), it tenderizes meat like nobody’s business, it makes a wonderful coating for anything pre-fry (chicken and onion rings, I’m looking at you), and it’s spectacular in baked goods, custards, and puddings. Cakes made with buttermilk have the most wonderful moist, tender, and— dare I say—velvety crumb. Custards are slightly tangy and extra creamy, and puddings, like my lemon one, are flavorful beyond measure.

Interestingly enough though, despite how much it contributes to taste and texture, buttermilk is very much a behind-the-scenes ingredient. Yes, the buttermilk pie with its (wonderfully unique) chocolate crust does indeed taste of buttermilk (in the best way), but the fluffy, yeasted buttermilk donuts (plus holes!)? Not so much. The same is true of the bound-to-be-your-new-fave raspberry snacking cake. You will certainly appreciate the extraordinary softness and lightness of its crumb, but you might not be able to label its source. And for the lemon pudding, each bite is so exceptionally tart, you’re likely to give all the credit to the citrus—but buttermilk’s quietly powerful tanginess deserves at least half the credit. In short, buttermilk is a backroom player from which so many of our sweet treats and baking projects would benefit.

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