Milk Vs. Water in Baking

by iupilon
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Breadmaking is a tedious process and requires intensive knowledge about your ingredients, equipment, and temperature control. Like dry ingredients, liquid ingredients also play a vital role in your baking needs. Liquid ingredients bind your product—producing a homogenous mixture. It will also provide sufficient moisture that prevents your food from drying.

Aside from water, milk is a common ingredient used for baking. It contains several nutrients and minerals that can increase the nutritional value of your food. Replacing water with milk can effectively improve its flavor, nutrition, and quality. It may cost higher, but you can try milk-based pastries for your baking needs.

Using milk will provide three immediate results: (1) it will prevent your baked good from expanding too much, (2) you will have improvements in texture and flavor, and (3) you will have an excellent browning to your bread’s exterior. For the measurements, you can replace your water by using the same amount of milk.

Can You Replace Milk with Water in Baking?

Milk is a nutritious liquid collected from the mammary glands of female mammals. While it can be consumed independently, milk can also be used as a primary liquid ingredient for baking. This healthy substitute can improve the moisture content of your batter or dough, increase its protein content, and improves the quality of your baked goods.

You can use milk in the form of fresh milk or diluting dry milk with water. Milk is dried to improve its shelf life compared to its liquid counterpart. If using the dehydrated state, it is recommended to dilute powdered milk with lukewarm water. With that in mind, we can quickly conclude that you can use milk to replace water.

Milk is not only recommended for cake making. It can also be used for breadmaking. Listed below are some of the benefits provided by using milk during the dough stage:

  • Milk can increase moisture absorption, resulting in a softer dough compared to the ones made with water.
  • Mixing milk in yeast can create a higher pH value compared to dough prepared with water. A high pH value slows down the fermentation process—giving more ample time for your dough to process sugar into gas.
  • It will also improve the fermentation tolerance of your dough. Fermentation tolerances measure the capacity of mixed dough to work correctly with changing temperatures. This will also prevent the fermentation process from falling quicker than usual.
  • Final proofing of the dough remains the same, but the milk-based dough will allow the yeast to process fully. It will also break down protein binds more efficiently, creating the right consistency for your baked product.
  • Milk-based bread will also have a better color distribution due to the lactose found in milk. It will also have finer grain, similar to cotton strands—making it easier to slice. Milk fat will also help in prolonging the shelf life of your baked goods.

Is It Better to Use Milk or Water in Cake Mix?

Boxed cake mixes gained popularity within the market for an apparent reason: it is easy to prepare and friendly for people with a minimal baking background. In addition, while cake mix usually indicates adding water as primary liquid, you can place whole cream milk to replace your water. The results will drastically improve the quality of your commercialized cake mix.

Instead of using water for your bland cake mix, use a dairy product instead. Replacing water with milk will provide an instant upgrade—making it taste homemade. In addition, buttermilk will give a tastier and creamier taste to your cake, and it may elevate the naturally rich bitter taste of coffee and cacao beans.

If you are using milk, include the same amount of water that the recipe calls. However, add half serving if using buttermilk—since its thick viscosity means that it has lower moisture content than diluted milk. Other dairy products you can add to your cake mix include sour cream, softened cream cheese, and even Greek yogurt.

While using milk, you might consider these other hacks to improve your baking game:

  • If you are using a chocolate-based mix, you can use a coffee-milk mixture. Just like milk, coffee is a good alternative for your tasteless water. In addition, coffee accentuates the bittersweet taste of chocolate. Mix half a cup of coffee and half a cup of milk for every cup of water.
  • Instead of using milk, you can replace your liquid with your favorite soda. This is recommended for fruit-based cake mixes like lemon-flavored cakes. Replace equal amounts of water with soda.
  • Aside from other dairy products, you can add a small amount of mayonnaise to your mixture. Mayonnaise improves the texture and taste profile of your boxed cake mix. Add a dollop or two to your recipe and make a difference to your baking.
  • Other ingredients that you may add to your cake mix are fruit purees, pumpkin mix, and even melted ice cream. If you don’t have milk in hand, you can add half a melted butter and water bar to emulate the milk’s composition.

What Does Milk Do in Baking?

Milk is a recommended substitute for your water-based batter and dough. The primary purpose of this liquid ingredient is to hydrate the dry ingredients while introducing other compositions to the prepared mix. This reliable ingredient can also dissolve sugar faster and activate the flour’s gluten.

For breadmaking, gluten provides elasticity to your dough—making it easier to process. Gluten is activated faster since milk contains proteins that bind to your leavening agent faster. This means that you can quickly release the fermentation process to your food. Additionally, milk protein improves the bread’s structure which generally enhances the tenderness of your baked goods.

The only downturn of using milk is for those who have lactose intolerance. Milk and other dairy-based products contain lactose which can irritate the stomach lining of some people. Milk can also activate the gluten content of some starch—which is not recommended for Celiac people.

Using nut-based milk like soy, almonds, cashews, walnut, peanut, macadamia, and hazelnuts is recommended for vegans, vegetarians, and allergic reactions with gluten and meat protein.

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