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Buttermilk to replace milk in...

Can I use buttermilk to replace the milk or water in a cake mix?
Does anyone have any experience of this?
I bought a litre of buttermilk, having used it for the purpose that it was bought, and short of going out and buying a package of Oreos to pig out on, to drink the rest of the carton, I need some uses for it. I would rather not throw it out the remainder, and I DO have to make a small cake this weekend. I have several cake mixes in the cupboard that are also in need of being used.



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  1. I use mine in my pancakes and of course cornbread.I do know some cakes call for it but not sure if you can just use it in any cake mix...although I can't see that it would hurt.


    1. never did cake with it, but I'm not a baker - try mashed potatoes or a fruit smoothie, and though not the season for it, Alton Brown's steel cut oatmeal uses it

      1. I have experience using buttermilk instead of water in pancake batter with great success.

        Cake mixes are *very* forgiving. I say go for it!

        Just be sure to pop it in the oven soon after mixing wet and dry so that the leavening is not exhausted from all the acidity in the buttermilk (i.e. preheat the oven, don't let the batter hang out on the counter for more than 10 minutes).

        1. My gut feeling is that this may not be a good idea. The idea when baking is to balance acids with bases. This is because the leavening in most cakes is a chemical leavener which relies on a reaction between the acids and the bases to create carbon dioxide. If you unbalance this, you may have some chemicals which have not reacted left in your cake. This often gives it a metallic/chemical flavor.

          However, if you make your own cake batter, you can adjust for this fact. You would reduce the amount of baking powder (which is a mixture of and acid and an alkali) that the recipe calls for and increase the amount of baking soda (which is just an alkali). Since the buttermilk has so much acid, it will balance the amount of acid and base (an alkali is an basic, ionic salt).

          1 Reply
          1. re: bmubyzal

            Thanks all.
            All thoughts are those that I've considered.
            Bmubyzal, I thought of that, and that's why I was asking. I wonder if anyone has tried, adding some baking soda to the buttermilk, to neutralize the acid, as many recipes call for, when using vinegar/lemon juice and milk.


          2. I have no idea if it would work with a cake mix. Maybe with a white cake mix? I know buttermilk does have a different reaction to leaveners than milk.

            However, I do know that buttermilk can be easily used up in a number of ways! Make biscuits, waffles, or pancakes! Pancakes can also be frozen and then reheated for a quick workday breakfast. You can make buttermilk sherbet, use it in a smoothie, or make a tea bread. You can even freeze it to use later. Buttermilk also keeps for quite a long time in the fridge, so there's no real hurry to use it up now.

            1. I buy buttermilk for my buttermilk pancakes and waffles. When I have some leftover, I use it in banana bread or as a moistener for lean meats (ie- meatloaf and meatballs).

              1 Reply
              1. re: thunderbug84

                I forgot about meats - marinate some chicken in buttermilk and it will stay so nice and moist, no matter how you cook it.

              2. Butteermilk is of course more acid than sweet milk and you will need to add about 1/2 tsp. baling soda or you will not get a good rise. It would be better in a chocolate cake mix than a white. The buttermilk enhances the chocolate flavor.

                BTW Buttermilk freezes beautifully. Try freezing it as individual cubes for later use.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Candy

                  now THAT is something that I've been wondering about for YEARS! Freezing, in this case is the IDEAL solution.

                  I LOVE biscuits and waffles and pancakes and marinated meat using buttermilk, but there's only so much that I can use up, as I am alone, and cooking for one.


                  1. re: violabratsche

                    Many recipes that use buttermilk and baking soda omit the baking powder. Others just seem to cut back on the powder. Buttermilk and baking soda a common pairing in pancakes and biscuits.

                    It also works well in muffins and quick breads. Other common acidic ingredients in these are molasses, yogurt, and sour cream. Fruit purees, such as mashed banana, and pumpkin are also acidic. A buttermilk quickbread should freeze fine if you can't eat it fast enough.

                    I haven't paid as much attention to cakes. If the recipe seems to temperamental, requiring just the right amount of leavening, I wouldn't try to make a substitution. For example the cake might rise too much, and then fall when cooled. If the recipe calls for adjusting the amount of flour or baking powder with altitude, I wouldn't try the substitution.

                    Buttermilk might work well in a 'crazy cake' - the eggless kind that uses vinegar and baking soda for leavening. For that I'd just substitute the buttermilk for both the water and vinegar.


                    1. re: paulj

                      oh I forgot my fave way crumble cornbread into a glass of buttermilk!

                      1. re: LaLa

                        LOL...yes, a visiting friend introduced me to that. It was not bad at all!