The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Why use milk?

butterflygrooves's picture

Why use milk?

I have a book called Complete Baking: With Over 400 Recipes for Pies, Tarts, Buns, Muffins, Breads, Cookies and Cakes by Martha Day in which I've noticed that the majority of her bread recipes call for milk or buttermilk where you would normally add water. 

Does the milk make a difference in the final product?  I don't use cow's milk at all so I'm wondering if subbing water or even soy/rice/almond/grain milk would work.          

mrfrost's picture

Milk/buttermilk makes breads that are more tender, and also helps in better browning. It also helps "fortify" the bread, nutritionally(and tastefully) speaking.

Yes, the fluid/liquid components in breads can be substituted by alternate liquids; frequently with satisfying results. Taste and texture may differ from original recipe.

Milk may have special concerns. Search for topics on "scalded milk". Matters to some(people); others, not so much.

Nice article on bread ingredients(additional enhancers link at bottom of article).

ps: There is also the "bread basics" link in the "handbook" tab at the top of every page here at freshloaf.

rayel's picture

Soy milk would be an option for you. It would maintain the conditioning effect of cow's milk or buttermilk, especially useful in whole wheat breads, and enhances the flavor, nutrition, and keeping qualities. Finding a recipe for using soy milk might be useful, and safer, regarding any special handling of soy, or quantity limits. I have used soy milk, several times, in 100% whole wheat breads, from a recipe in Laurel's Kitchen Breadbook.  Ray

butterflygrooves's picture

Thanks Ray!  I've used soy buttermilk (soy milk with a bit of vinegar added) in making biscuits and they turn out beautifully, will try it in lieu of cow's milk for these other recipes.