The basic beauty of baking with buttermilk

Photo by Ashleigh Rood.

If you open my fridge on any given day you’ll be sure to find a few staple: milk, butter, eggs and yes, buttermilk. Now the first three are a given, we all probably have those as main stays in our refrigerators but you may be thinking, why buttermilk?

Well, I am here to tell you that buttermilk is one of those secret ingredients that always makes baking turn out beautifully. If I am trying a new recipe for the first time and I see buttermilk in the ingredient list, I already know that whatever it is I am making is going to be moist and delicious and a instant hit with my family.

We had family friends of ours visiting San Diego and staying with us a few years ago and we decided to do what we normally do on Saturday mornings: make breakfast. My husband pulled out the recipe book that my mom had given me with hand-written recipes in it and started to make our favorite buttermilk pancakes. He whipped up a batch of pancakes in no time and before long our friends were wowed by my husband’s culinary skills.

I mean, really, it was the buttermilk that made them so good, but I still let my husband take some credit.

The next day our friends tried a breakfast spot in La Jolla that was known for their pancakes and, much to my husbands enjoyment, they told him his pancakes were better! After I shared the key ingredient, they texted us when they were back home telling us for the first time in 20 years of marriage they had buttermilk in their refrigerator!

Not only is buttermilk very useful for pancakes but also for making carrot cake, raisin bran muffins, ranch dressing (that is so much better than the store bought stuff) and even as a brine for chicken. Yes that is right, buttermilk even makes meat tender!

Now, if I haven’t sold you on buttermilk yet, another thing I love about buttermilk is that you can use it even after it is expired. It can be used for 1-2 weeks beyond the expiration date. If you are anything like me, that’s a life saver! I remember calling my mom and asking her what to do because I needed to make a cake and my buttermilk expired two days before. She laughed and said it didn’t matter, that I should use it anyway, because buttermilk doesn’t really go bad. 

When I asked her why she simply said, “Well it’s already like spoiled milk anyway.” So there you go, scientific truth straight from my mother.

Just like anything in baking, the proof is in the pudding… or the pancakes!

So, if you are new to using buttermilk or simply like pancakes as much as I do, here is the recipe that made my husband feel like a culinary success and truly is a reason we eat breakfast at home most weekends.

Happy baking and go ahead and get some buttermilk to keep in your fridge!

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

2 Cups Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
3 Tablespoons Sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
3 Cups of Buttermilk
4 Tablespoons of Butter- melted

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Whisk to combine, batter should have small to medium lumps.