Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Project Buttermilk

Buttermilk is not an ingredient which I regularly use but when my sister offered me 750 millilitres of leftover buttermilk, the frugal baker in me could not decline. This gave me an opportunity to leaf through my old pastry school curriculum, a gold mine of trusted recipes, in search of the word buttermilk.

This fermented dairy product is essentially milk soured with lactic acid which is a by-product of cultured bacteria feasting on lactose. It gives richness and tanginess to many types of quickbreads and cakes, including muffins, which is the first thing I decided to bake. My favourite muffin recipe from school is a bran, pumpkin and ginger muffin, moist and light with an interesting crunch from toasted millet. Even though Eric has an irrational hatred of pumpkin due to a traumatic rotting pumpkin science experiment in elementary school, he admitted that this muffin was very good.

Next, the obvious destination for buttermilk is in buttermilk biscuits, a perfect accompaniment to a hearty beef stew which was on the menu for dinner. From Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, I found a simple recipe which made the perfect buttery oven-fresh sponge for the rich gravy.

Finally, the buttermilk found its way into a Devil's Food cake which I soaked with Bailey's irish cream syrup and layered with coffee buttercream. In case you think we eat like this every night, you are mistaken. Having a house guest and leftover buttermilk certainly motivates me to cook more than just on Sundays! The only problem is that I still have about 1 cup of buttermilk left but no longer any recipe ideas nor any space in my belly. Maybe pancakes on Saturday?

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