Buttermilk: A Southern Baking Secret

As a child, I remember my mother churning butter. We did not live on a farm, but had enough room for a barn with a couple of cows. The cows produced enough rich milk for my mother to make butter and buttermilk (the byproduct of the churning process).

Southern cooks usually had buttermilk on hand to use for baking and drinking. In the tradition of using food wisely, many families loved eating cornbread crumbled in buttermilk for a special treat or simple supper.

Today, most of us use the cultured buttermilk available in grocery stores. Whether you use fresh or cultured buttermilk, your baking will still benefit from its unique qualities. The tang and acidity of buttermilk will contribute distinctive flavor and moist texture to your baking. Buttermilk is primarily found in biscuits, cornbread and pancakes, but is often used in other desserts.

Just one tip – if you have a recipe that calls for buttermilk, but don’t have any on hand, you can easily make a substitution. Measure 1 tablespoon vinegar into a measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1 cup. Stir and let stand a few minutes.


Something magic happens when buttermilk is combined with chocolate. This rich, moist Easy Chocolate Sheet Cake topped with creamy chocolate frosting is a wonderful example. Inspired by the famous Southern pie, Buttermilk Chess Pound Cake is a delicious choice to combine with spring berries.

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