I remember a friend once who rhapsodized about the buttermilk chocolate cake he’d made. “It made the cake so tender. There was really a different flavor to it.”
It sounds dreamy and I’m jealous.
Liquids in a cake add moisture of course, but buttermilk especially, adds a tinge of tang to a batter. Usually skim milk to which a cultured bacteria is added, buttermilk was – in times past – the liquid produced as a result of making butter. Powdered buttermilk is available locally, and so is liquid buttermilk, albeit in a much decreased quantity.
Pinkie’s Farm is a small, family-run farm in Batangas that produces buttermilk, just one product in its roster of dairies. I recently got my hands on some of their yogurt (too runny), kesong puti (no, stay away), and am not too happy with their Greek yogurt, but their milk – fresh and low fat – are what my childhood dreams are made of.
The buttermilk comes in 1-liter plastic bottles, and looks like, well, milk, as you can see in the photo. It tastes like it too, with nary a tang to be tasted. Usually, when a recipe calls for buttermilk, I make soured milk instead: 1 tablespoon of vinegar and enough whole milk to make 1 cup of liquid. It always worked for me. But now, eager to bake with so called “real” buttermilk, I trawl my recipes and pick out a few to try.
I make buttermilk biscuits, towering pucks of dough pocked with cubed butter. I like big biscuits just because there’s more surface area to love, and my biscuits are extra flaky due to sizable nuggets of frozen butter ensconced in the dough. When baked, I love to rip open the middle of a biscuit and inhale its hot, floury depths.
I also use some of the buttermilk to brine some chicken pieces in overnight. My Bin has been hankering for fried chicken lately, and there’s no better partner to biscuits than this. This dish is similar to my other recipe for fried chicken, except that one is brined in a water-salt solution, and this one is bathed in buttermilk. I honestly can’t tell the difference between the brines. Both are delicious and super moist, the chicken skin shatters exceptionally, its crunch resounds loudly.
One of my favorite ingredients to bake with is sour cream because it generates a moist crumb. But as I soon discover when baking (and cooking) with buttermilk, it produces cakes that are moist and almost fall-apart tender. So I use a liberal amount of buttermilk, really pour on the love, into this Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake inundated with a brown sugar streusel. The sweet batter enriched with eggs and butter is plied with seemingly plenty, but apparently, still an inadequate amount of chocolate chips – “There’s not enough chocolate, Mom!” – Boo protests.
She’s silenced however when the cake emerges from the oven, its scent intoxicates with wafts and waves of vanilla. Today, this is breakfast for our family of three. Not a believer in waiting ‘til the cake cools, I thrust a knife in and serve everyone a slice. The cake, still hot enough to emit tendrils of steam, mutes any taste to be had. Then a few bites later, the flavor blooms, its sweetness undercut by a feather-light crumb courtesy of buttermilk. Later, an interplay of chocolate and crunch of streusel provides textural relief.
Bgy. Maraway, Lipa, Batangas
02 899 2010 / 0918 9999 555
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