Baking is a science. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but what does it mean exactly? No, we’re not donning lab coats and goggles in the kitchen or melting butter over Bunsen burners. But we are combining ingredients that react with each other when heated to create something sweet and delicious. It’s the best kind of science if you ask me!

The first step to baking success is understanding the basic ingredients. There are a lot of components, so we’ll start with dairy. Check back next month for a look at more!

Cream of the Crop

Milk and cream are essential for recipes like ice cream, cake or candy. Here’s how to use them:

  • Milk – Whole milk is 87% water and 13% milk fats. It’s used to add liquid and moisture to batter, but not to add stability, which is why it’s used in combination of flour and butter in cake.
  • Heavy Cream – Heavy whipping cream is no less than 36% milk fat. Use it when you want a thicker texture, like in ganache, or for adding rich flavor.
  • Buttermilk – The cultured dairy product is used when a tangy flavor will enhance the end product.
  • Sour Cream – This is another great way to add a tangy taste to baked goods. It also adds more moisture to cake than buttermilk.

Better Butter Basics

Recipes can call for butter in one of three different ways – softened to room temperature, cold or melted. Adhering to the correct butter temperature is often the key to a successful finished product.

  • Cold: Small pieces of cold butter in dough create air pockets during baking, which is essential for achieving flaky pie crust!
  • Room Temperature: If a recipe calls for mixing the butter and sugar together first, then you should use room temperature butter. Softer butter allows the sugar crystals to cut through and aerate it, which leads to a light and fluffy base for your dough.
  • Melted Butter: For baked goods with a softer texture, like angel food cake, use melted butter. The liquid will prevent air pockets from forming, which leads to a smaller, more delicate crumb.

Do you have any tips or ideas to add about baking with dairy?