The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Dough conditioners - buttermilk, Vit C, gluten, lecithin, soy flour, etc.

KipperCat's picture

Dough conditioners - buttermilk, Vit C, gluten, lecithin, soy flour, etc.

My first question concerns buttermilk & vitamin C.  These both acidify the dough, which gives the yeast a boost.  Does the buttermilk do anything else - or anything different than regular milk?

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona comments are restricted to the use of buttermilk in loaf breads only. By this I mean a bread recipe designed to be baked in a loaf pan made with commercial yeast. It does not apply to hearth breads or sourdough breads.

IMHO, the use of buttermilk produces a somewhat softer crumb for a "sandwich loaf" made primarily or wholly with white flour. The crust also may be somewhat softer. This assumes that the liquid in your recipe calls for buttermilk, OR whole milk OR 50/50 whole milk and water plus some fat (usually butter).

I have found the difference to be quite subtle and that, in general, for this kind of bread, most ppl can't tell the difference.

For basic white sandwich bread or rolls, I personally seldom bother with purchasing buttermilk. While I enjoy the taste of buttermilk, I find that I don't use it up. I prefer using whole milk, sometimes enriched with the addition of some butter (butter! - not margarine).

Cooky's picture

"I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

Cooky's picture

I add buttermilk to a basic white artisan recipe to make sandwhich rolls, reducing water content to maintain the right texture. I believe you could use 100% buttermilk, though it might take a bit more mixing to get all the ingredients incorporated.

The result is a softer texture, a more even crumb (although that may be due more to the extra handling required to shape the rolls) and a subtle tang in the flavor. I believe softer texture is the  main reason to use buttermilk, although there is a flavor component


I am not a cook. But I am sorta cooky."

charbono's picture

Buttermilk, like yogurt, is acidic.  Acidity, in moderation, strengthens gluten.  It also helps to keep enzymes such as amylase and protease under control.  However, it liberates the enzyme phytase.  These issues are important in whole wheat, where gluten is typically weak and there are lots of enzymes. 


Why do you think acidity boosts yeast?


I use buttermilk in powdered form, which has almost no fat and keeps a long time.

suave's picture

Modifiers... Truth be told when I want bread that won't get mold I go to Aunt Millie's outlet just down the street.  "All Natural Crunchy Oat".  Costs 90 cents, tastes ok, and keeps a month.  Nine line list of ingredients too.

JERSK's picture

   According to RLB's "Bread Bible" commercial buttermilk contains 90.5% water and 1.75% fat. She's a pretty reliable source on these matters.