I have done a search of blog/forums for buttermilk and read very useful tidbits of information here and there, most hidden in the answers to larger baking questions.
I am researching buttermilk right now and wondered whether anyone could point to a good article, post, book chapter, etc. on the role of buttermilk in baking.
I understand generally that buttermilk is acidic and will interact with leavening differently as a result (which is why I eliminated the use of acidic lemon juice in the batter of my lemon poppyseed wedding cake recipe, in favor of lemon oil and zest in the batter). From this thread and the knowledgable Christine S., buttermilk (b/c it’s acidic) “weakens the gluten in the flour, and makes all-purpose flour behave more like cake flour in terms of gluten strength.” So it would appear that it is the acid in buttermilk that creates the wonderful tenderizing effect.
Is that the end of the story?
In Rose’s recipe for blueberry muffins , she recommends that one susbstitute baking powder for some of the soda for flavor, not for texture. I wonder why that is?
At brunch with friends, I notice that buttermilk pancakes taste much better to me than others. Certain pancakes have a foul metallic taste in my mouth, and my theory is that I am tasting the baking soda that otherwise would have been neutralized by the buttermilk. But that theory seems to go against what Rose says in her muffin recipe above. And I trust Rose!
I love using buttermilk (and sour cream, which has similar properties) in baking, and am very interested in finding out more about how it works in the chemical reaction of baking. If anyone could point to a resource to find out more, I would appreciate it. Maybe I missed something in TCB!