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When it comes to cooking, different types of dairy products are used. Two popular choices are buttermilk and heavy cream. But what’s the difference between the two?
The main difference between buttermilk and heavy cream is the way they are made. Buttermilk is made by inducing fermentation in milk, while heavy cream is made by skimming the cream off the top of milk that has been allowed to sit. This makes buttermilk tangy and heavy cream thick and creamy.
I have put together more similarities and differences below. So read on for a complete guide to buttermilk vs heavy cream so that you know which one you need to use and for what.
What Are The Differences Between Buttermilk And Heavy Cream?
While they are both made from milk, buttermilk and heavy cream differ in a few ways, including:
|How They Are Made||They Are Both Made From Milk|
|How They Taste||They Can Both Be Used In Baking|
|Their Fat Content|
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How They Are Made
Buttermilk is made by inducing fermentation in milk. Fermentation is induced by adding bacteria to milk, which causes the milk sugars to break down and produce lactic acid.
This process thickens the milk and gives it a slightly sour taste.
Heavy cream is made by skimming the cream off the top of milk that has been allowed to sit. The cream rises to the top when milk sits due to its higher fat content. This cream is then collected and used to make heavy cream.
How They Taste
Buttermilk has a slightly sour taste due to the fermentation process. It is tangy and acidic. Heavy cream has a rich, buttery taste with a hint of sweetness.
Each unique process of creation gives both of them a different taste. Buttermilk has a tangy taste, while heavy cream becomes thick and creamy.
Buttermilk is thinner than heavy cream. It has a slightly runny consistency. Heavy cream is thick and creamy. It has a rich, velvety texture. It is also much smoother than buttermilk.
This is why it’s pretty easy to tell these two apart. However, buttermilk and regular milk are often hard to tell apart!
Buttermilk has lower fat content than heavy cream. Since it is made from fermented milk, some of the fat is broken down during the fermentation process.
Heavy cream has a higher fat content because it is made from the cream that rises to the top of milk.
This difference in fat content can create a huge discrepancy in the recipe that you’re making. The addition of excess fat will create a much creamier recipe.
Buttermilk can be used in baking or as a drink. It is often used in pancakes, biscuits, and cakes. Heavy cream can be used in baking, cooking, or as a topping. It is often used in soups, sauces, and desserts.
However, buttermilk and heavy cream still have a bunch of similarities that you should know about. Below, I will break down all the similarities between these two types of milk.
What Are The Similarities Between Buttermilk And Heavy Cream?
Here are two main similarities between buttermilk and heavy cream:
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They Are Both Made From Milk
As I mentioned earlier, both buttermilk and heavy cream are made from milk. More specifically, they are both made from cow’s milk.
This is what gives both of them a similar texture even though one has more fat than the other. I’m not even mentioning the fact that they’re both white in color.
They Can Both Be Used In Baking
One of the most common uses for buttermilk and heavy cream is baking. They can both be used to make baked goods like cakes, cookies, and bread.
This, however, depends on the recipe of each one of these baked goods. Some recipes will specify exactly which one of these two you should use for baking. So keep a look out for that in the recipe!
Can You Substitute Buttermilk For Heavy Cream In A Recipe?
While you can use buttermilk instead of heavy cream in some recipes, it is not always a good idea to do so. When substituting one for the other, you will also need to switch out the baking soda in the recipe for baking powder. It will depend on what you want to achieve with your recipe.
For example, if you are trying to get some tanginess in your recipe, then you cannot substitute buttermilk with heavy cream. This is because heavy cream will not provide the same tangy taste as buttermilk.
In general, it is best to use buttermilk in recipes that call for it.
However, if you have a little leftover buttermilk left, you can use it with heavy cream.
Baked goods such as cake or pancakes are examples of recipes where buttermilk is often used and it is always a good idea to stick to the recipe. If a recipe calls for heavy cream, say, in making frosting, then it is fine to substitute buttermilk.
*By the way, I recently wrote an article comparing Condensed Milk Vs Evaporated Milk. This article breaks down all the similarities and differences between condensed milk and evaporated milk as well as how to convert one into the other. You can check out this article here!
Can You Use Heavy Cream Instead Of Buttermilk In A Cake?
Generally speaking, it is sometimes okay to use heavy cream instead of buttermilk in a cake. Heavy cream has a higher percentage of fat in it which changes the texture of the cake. If you want your cake to be moist and have a slightly dense texture, then using heavy cream is a good idea.
However, if your recipe specifically calls for buttermilk, then it is best not to substitute buttermilk with heavy cream.
Note that the taste will also be different if you use heavy cream instead of buttermilk.
The fat content of these two ingredients is also different, with heavy cream having a higher fat content. This means that if you use heavy cream instead of buttermilk, your cake will be denser and have a richer taste.
Here’s a video that breaks down the 2 best substitutes for buttermilk:
I must also mention that heavy cream makes better cake frosting than buttermilk. So, if you are looking to make a cake with a light and fluffy frosting, it is best to use heavy cream.
*By the way, I recently wrote an article about Fixing Separated Buttercream Frosting. This article talks about why your buttercream frosting gets separated as well as why the color added into the frosting sometimes gets separated. You can check out this article here!
What is a good substitute for heavy cream?
As a general rule, a mixture of milk and butter is a good substitute for heavy cream. Combine 1 cup of milk with 1/2 cup of butter. This will give you the same amount of heavy cream that is needed in your recipe. You can also use evaporated milk or Greek yogurt as substitutes for heavy cream.
What is heavy cream used for in baking?
Generally speaking, heavy cream is often used in baking to decorate cakes or for making frosting. It can also be used in baking to add richness and flavor to recipes. People also use it to thicken soups, ganaches, and sauces.
What is buttermilk used for in baking?
Generally speaking, buttermilk can be used as a leavening agent in baking. It can also be used to add moistness and flavor to recipes. Buttermilk is often used in baking pastries and desserts such as pancakes, biscuits, cakes, and bread.
Are buttermilk and sour cream interchangeable?
Generally speaking, you can use sour cream as a substitute for buttermilk in some recipes. However, note that the taste will be slightly different. Sour cream is also thicker than buttermilk, so you may need to thin it out with some milk before using it as a substitute.
It can be confusing to try and figure out the difference between buttermilk and heavy cream. However, I hope this article has helped clear things up for you.