Buttermilk: my new best baking friend

whole grain buttermilk dinner roll made with fresh flour from grainmill

Buttermilk isn't something I ever keep in the refrigerator because it was historically hard for me to use up before it went bad. But the recipes that call for it always sound so delicious! I've tried some substitutes…with moderate success. While browsing Budget Bytes I came across the tips on freezing buttermilk and became convinced that using actual buttermilk instead of a substitute was worth it. The leftovers can be frozen for a future recipe. So simple and smart!

I totally lucked out and made three recipes that called for exactly the amount of buttermilk that I bought:
First up were the pancakes and muffins. I chose these because along with the buttermilk I had two eggs in the refrigerator that I wanted to stretch into something for several breakfasts.

Whole wheat oatmeal pancakes

Awhile back I made these pancakes but with whey, yogurt, and milk instead of buttermilk. This time I made them pretty much as written with one substitution: I used 94 gm of freshly-milled hard white wheat flour instead of 3/4 cup of off-the-shelf wheat flour.

We topped these with a variety of things, depending on the day:
  • homemade peanut butter (I make mine with just dry roasted peanuts and sea salt)
  • fruit jam
  • butter and maple syrup
  • peanut butter, banana slices, and raisins
They were all good! The cinnamon and nutmeg in the pancakes worked especially well with the peanut butter. I'm on a total cinnamon kick lately so I was happy the recipe included it. 

Cheese muffins

This recipe had a few different options in the ingredients list. For my variation, I made them with oregano instead of chives or onions, canola oil, cheddar cheese + mustard, and freshly-ground hard white wheat flour.

While they baked, it smelled like a pizzeria in the kitchen because of the oregano and cheese! So good. 

These cheese muffins froze well, and to serve them I liked to thaw and split them in half horizontally, toasting them slightly under the broiler. They were excellent with a little butter, and we also enjoyed them topped with some shredded cheddar and diced, cooked bacon.

The texture of them is decent, but I'd love them to be more moist. Next time I'll try adding about 1 cup of shredded zucchini. 

Buttermilk rolls

Process notes

  • made 1/2 recipe
  • used freshly-ground hard white wheat flour
  • used 2 tbsp of butter
  • shaped into 15 small dinner rolls of sandwich loaf
  • added yeast with flour and salt instead of premixing with water
  • used 9x13 baking dish, coated with nonstick spray
  • baked at 400° for about 20 minutes
15 buttermilk dinner rolls in 9x13 baking dish
15 buttermilk dinner rolls in 9x13 baking dish. Nestling them next to each other is key for a nicely-risen shape.

golden brown dinner rolls made with buttermilk and homemade whole grain wheat flour
These rolls browned so beautifully!

Results

This dough was dreamy to knead! The recipe called for a quite soft dough for making rolls, and the texture was so nice and pliable.

I've made hamburger buns a few times, and they always turned out flatter than I'd like. With these rolls, I learned the lesson that positioning them right next to each other in the pan helps them rise up much better.

whole grain dinner rolls made with buttermilk

These are tasty little rolls, but a tad dry for me. I have some ideas for adjustments for next time to make them softer:
  • take them out of the oven earlier to see if the texture is softer
  • use oil instead of butter 
  • swap out some of the hard white wheat flour for soft white wheat flour (as suggested in the book)
  • increase amount of buttermilk (I had to add some water to this dough to make it soft enough)
  • mix the dough, do a series of stretch-and-folds, and refrigerate the dough overnight to allow the bran to soften more
I made them specifically for the Sloppy Joes Plus that I'm addicted to. It's a great recipe for meal prep and freezes very well. I've been loving how the weekend meal prep takes the pressure off daily cooking. Once I make the decisions and plan it out, I just have to make everything ahead of time and serve it up day by day.


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