Milk is a common liquid used in baking to moisten ingredients. It affects the consistency of the batter or dough. Use only the freshest milk and dairy products.
There are a number of milk products. Be sure to use the type specified in the recipe.
- Buttermilk: Despite its name, buttermilk contains no butter. It is skim milk that has had bacteria cultures added to thicken it and give it a tangy flavor.
- Evaporated: This is whole milk that has been cooked to reduce the water content and is available in cans. It can be used as is or reconstituted by adding 1/2 cup water to 1/2 cup evaporated milk to make 1 cup. It also is available as evaporated skim milk.
- Half-and-half: This milk contains 12% butterfat
- Regular: This includes whole, 2%, 1% and skim. Milk containing differing percentages of butterfat may be used interchangeably in most recipes.
- Sour cream: Dairy sour cream is 18 to 20% fat, although low (light) and nonfat options are now available. Always use the type specified in the recipe. The milk has been treated with a lactic acid culture, which gives sour cream its characteristic tang and thick texture. Sour cream will curdle if it becomes too hot. Always add sour cream at the end of the cooking time and heat it only until it is warm, not hot. Never boil dairy sour cream.
- Sweetened condensed: This is milk that has been cooked to reduce the water content and has sugar added. This process makes the milk very sweet and thick. Do not substitute it for evaporated milk.
- Whipping cream: This is milk that contains from 32% (light) to 40% (heavy) butterfat. The high butterfat content allows it to be whipped, causing it to double in volume. Sugar is often added to whipped cream when it is used as a dessert topping.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is made from milk ranging from skim to half-and-half, which affects its fat content. The milk is treated with bacteria culture, which gives yogurt its tangy taste and thick texture. Yogurt adds flavor and moistness to recipes.