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The Buttermilk Deal

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It's been a while since I blogged, mostly down to having a string of events to prepare and bake for and then attend, but today I just had to sit down and write about buttermilk, having made these delicious raspberry almond buttermilk scones for our teatime dessert. They are one of our favourites and I felt it was time to share them with you all. Keep reading for the link to the recipe below and to find out more about how I use buttermilk.

Many of you have asked me about buttermilk at various times. It's not something that's a British staple, being far more popular with our friends over the pond. If you know me, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of American recipes of all kinds, and they really are right on the money with their love of buttermilk.

What is buttermilk?

It's the side-product that gets leftover during the churning process of making butter. This is traditional buttermilk but you can also make buttermilk by adding an acid like lemon juice to plain milk and letting it sit. Buttermilk is a lot thicker than normal milk and tastes sourer, a bit like yoghurt. It can be drunk straight but I personally don't enjoy it this way, because I don't like drinking sour milk.

Where can I buy it?

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Any major supermarket. Sainsbury's tubs of 300ml buttermilk (own brand) are expensive but thick and creamy. Most of the time I use the big 1litre cartons of it you can get in ASDA for £1, by Lowicz. This provides 4 cups which should do 4 to 8 recipes depending on what you are making. If you don't have cups, invest in some, as most American recipes use them. And you should seriously consider using American recipes.

What do you use it for?

In America buttermilk is often used to make finger-lickin' good chicken as a marinade the raw chicken soaks in for a good long while to soften and tenderise it. Those who are local will have seen Carolina chicken on the menu at Billy Bob's Diner which is made using buttermilk and is indeed delicious.

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Another iconic use of buttermilk is the fluffy and delicious American pancake. Now I'm not saying I don't like an English pancake but have you TRIED those bad boys? Just top with maple syrup and streaky bacon crisped to perfection and you got yourself some serious breakfast action.

And of course, cake is another eager vehicle for buttermilk. A lot of American recipes call for buttermilk and the beauty of it is that it allows you to use butter in a bake to give that beautiful flavour, or oil so it doesn't dry out, while still retaining the fluffy lightness you want rather than the density butter and oil can add. Buttermilk reacts with bicarbonate of soda to leaven cake (and bread, as we'll shortly see) and give it a spectacular rise while also keeping it ... moist. Yes, I used the M word.

As an aside, as it's not cake-related, I also frequently use and love Paul Hollywood's soda bread recipe, which basically involves mixing flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and buttermilk together, dumping it onto a baking tray and shoving it in the oven. Could bread-making BE made any easier? The end product is sumptuous. Give it a try.

So, these raspberry almond buttermilk scones...

Yes. These alone are justification for the existence of buttermilk in the world. I'm very much a fruity person rather than a chocolate person when it comes to cake. I'm mad on Bakewell, lemon curd, strawberry macarons, raspberry conserves... and a cream tea is my preferred choice if I'm ever in a nice café. So the combination of raspberries & almonds in scone form, with buttermilk in the mix, is a match made in heaven. Just me and the scones, and I'm a happy lady.

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The recipe is by the incredible Sally of Sally's Baking Addiction (she who has previously brought us white chocolate frosting and salted caramel sauce, to name but two of her inspired contributions to the joy of humankind). Follow it to the letter. Including all her exhortations to keep things cold and handle the dough the bare minimum. I had my best results ever today by fridging the scones for an hour after we'd brushed them with buttermilk and sprinkled the almonds on. Oh yes, the recipe. Here it is!

These sold out in a few hours at my bake sale at the weekend, so it's not just me. If you give them a try, I'd love to see pictures and your comments of how they turned out.

To order a cake that quite possibly contains buttermilk goodness, for West Yorkshire (Keighley, Bingley, Bradford, Saltaire, Skipton, Ilkley, Menston, Guiseley, Silsden & beyond!) visit: or use our Contact Page.

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