The essential bread making basic ingredients – Liquids

Bread making basic ingredients - Liquids

Bread-making liquids are essential for achieving the perfect texture and consistency of bread. With so many different liquids to choose from, it can be confusing to know which ones to use and when. When you combine liquids and flour, it creates a substance called gluten. Gluten helps dough rise when it bakes. It is also important to note that the temperature of the liquid used in bread making should not be too hot or cold as it can negatively impact the yeast’s effectiveness in the dough. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to the different types of liquids used in bread making, including water, milk, buttermilk, yogurt, fruit juice, and more. We will explore the effects of each liquid on the final texture, flavour, and overall quality of the bread. Whether you’re an experienced baker or just starting, understanding the role of liquids in bread making will help you to create bread that is not only delicious but also technically sound.

Note: If you add ingredients like eggs, cheese, or fruit, use less liquid in your recipe.



Water is the most common liquid used in bread making as it is odourless and does not affect the flavour of the bread. It produces a crisper crust and a more open texture.

Should I use tap water or Bottled water?

Use filtered tap water for better-tasting bread dough. However, be aware that water softeners and chlorinated public water may kill the yeast. If your dough doesn’t rise properly, switch to bottled water instead of tap water.




Milk is good for bread. It enhances flavour and increases the nutritional value of bread. When milk is used, the loaf bakes slightly darker and has a creamier taste than a loaf made with water. You can use any milk, like dry, whole, 2%, 1%, skim, buttermilk, evaporated or condensed milk.
If you’re using the “Delay Timer” function, don’t use fresh milk because it can spoil. Instead, use dry milk (or powdered buttermilk) and water.
Note: Refrigerated milk may be warmed to 27-32°C/80-90°F, however, do not overheat (above 38°C/100°F) as this could affect the yeast activity. Read more at liquid temperature.


Use buttermilk when making bread for a soft and fluffy texture. It also makes the bread stay fresh longer. Any type of buttermilk- full-fat, reduced-fat, low-fat, or non-fat- can be used.
Keep buttermilk in the fridge after opening. 

How to offset the acidity of buttermilk?

Buttermilk tastes tangy and slightly bitter. Add 1/4 cup of baking soda for every cup of buttermilk to make it less acidic.

Can I use powdered buttermilk?

You can use powdered buttermilk instead if you don’t have fresh buttermilk. It works great f you use the “Delay Timer” because it won’t go bad.

Can I freeze buttermilk?

If you don’t use it all and have a quart available, you can freeze it in your desired size. It may separate when you thaw it, but that’s okay and safe.

What are the buttermilk substitutes?

Buttermilk isn’t usually found in grocery stores or used often but can be substituted with other ingredients. You can make a substitute with one of the following for the best results to the consistency of heavy cream:

  • 1:2: 1 part Greek yogurt mixed with two parts 1% or skim milk
  • Sour cream thinned with milk or water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice mixed into 1 cup of milk. Let the milk stand for 10 to 15 minutes until it thickens slightly and curdles.
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (not also a pantry staple) mixed with 1 cup of milk. Shake until the cream of tartar dissolves.
  • Plain unsweetened kefir (not also a pantry staple).

The less buttermilk needed in a recipe, the easier to use a substitute. Buttermilk has a strong flavour when used with simple ingredients but tends to disappear when used with other flavours. It’s best to use a substitute in cakes or quick bread that have other ingredients like sugar and spices. But it’s important not to use plain milk in recipes that require baking soda.

What are the differences between common cream varieties and their best substitutions?

The higher the fat content, the thicker the cream.


Half-and-half is a mix of equal parts of whole milk and light cream. It has around 12% fat (min 10.5%, max 18%), more than in whole milk (which contains 3.5 % fat) but less than in light cream (min 18%, max 30%).

In a recipe, you can use whole milk instead of half-and-half, but it might taste and feel slightly different.

Light cream or coffee cream or table cream

Light cream is sometimes known as coffee cream or table cream. It has about 20% fat (minimum 18% and maximum 30%).

Light cream and half & half are interchangeable.

Whipping cream or Heavy cream

Whipping cream is nearly identical to heavy cream because they have a lot of fat. Whipping cream has about 35% (min 30%, max 36%) fat, and heavy cream has about 38% (min 36%) fat.

Heavy cream is sometimes also called heavy whipping cream.

Evaporated milk

Evaporated milk is milk that has about 60% of the water removed. It comes in three types: regular (2% fat), low-fat (1% fat) and fat-free (skimmed).

If you substitute evaporated milk for regular milk in a recipe, it will be richer and creamier.

You can use evaporated milk instead of heavy cream in baking if you only need it as a liquid ingredient. Evaporated milk is creamier than regular milk but won’t whip like heavy cream.

Sweetened condensed milk

Sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk are both canned, shelf-stable types of milk. The main difference is that sweetened condensed milk has a significant amount of sugar added to it, making it perfect for baking.

Sour cream

Sour cream comes from milk and cream. It is made by adding lactic acid-producing bacteria to pasteurized cream, which makes it sour.

Crème fraîche

Crème fraîche is like sour cream but from Europe. Both are made by adding specific bacteria to milk, but crème fraîche has more fat (30-40%) and is thicker. Sour cream is more acidic, tangier, and crème fraîche has a milder and creamier taste.

You can often make substitutions in a recipe, but remember that your dish becomes less rich as you go down in butterfat.

Powdered coffee creamer

You can use regular creamer in hot coffee, but you should use something other than powdered  coffee creamer in baked goods.

What are dairy-free milk substitutions?

Dairy-free milk substitutions are plant-based alternatives to cow’s milk that are free from lactose and the milk protein casein. These substitutes are suitable for individuals with lactose intolerance, a dairy allergy, or those who follow a vegan diet. 

Each substitute offers a unique taste and nutritional profile, so it’s essential to choose the right one based on individual preferences and dietary goals.

Popular dairy-free milk options include:

Coconut cream

If you can’t use dairy cream in a recipe, use coconut cream instead. To substitute cream in recipes, use equal parts coconut cream for the heavy dairy cream.

Leave a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge for about 1 hour for heavy dairy cream or about 1/2 hour for dairy half-and-half. Then, skim off the thick cream that has risen to the top.

Mix equal parts coconut cream and unsweetened or plain soy, rice, or oat milk for dairy half-and-half.

This works for people who can’t eat dairy and vegans, but the coconut taste might not be suitable for every recipe.

Instant soy creamer

Mix equal amounts of silken tofu and unsweetened soy, rice, or oat milk to make your dairy-free half-and-half.

Low-fat soy cream

Blend some tofu until it is smooth.
This can be used instead of light dairy or heavy dairy cream in the same amount (1:1 ratio), but it will not be able to be whipped. It is healthier because it is lower in fat.

Choose soft varieties for a lighter “cream.”
However, if you prefer a thicker texture, use firm or extra-firm silken tofu instead and blend it the same way.

Soy sour cream

Blend firm silken tofu for a creamy, tangy wonderful sour cream consistency. You can use it as is or add extra flavour to make it taste even more like sour cream.

Soy or rice milk + Oil light cream

If you want to use light dairy cream in your recipe, you can blend 3/4 cup of soy or rice milk with 1/4 cup of melted dairy-free margarine or oil like olive oil. 
If you want heavy dairy cream, blend 2/3 cup of soy or rice milk with 1/3 cup of melted dairy-free margarine or oil.

However, please note that heavy dairy cream like this cannot be whipped.

Rice milk

Rice milk can be used instead of dairy in almost all recipes, including baking and cooking.

Nutty sour cream

You can create a dairy- and soy-free sour cream by using cashews or sunflower seeds as the creamy base.

Vegan yogurt

You can replace sour cream with plain, unflavored dairy-free yogurt in the same amount.

Almond milk

Almond milk is a delicious and nutritious dairy-free milk alternative that can easily be used in place of regular cow’s milk. To use almond milk, begin by choosing a high-quality brand that is unsweetened and fortified with vitamins and minerals.




Eggs add colour, richness, and leavening to bread.
Always use large eggs unless told otherwise.
One large egg equals slightly less than 1/4 cup.
You don’t have to premix the eggs.

Remember: due to health and safety precautions, do not use eggs with the “delay timer setting.”

Egg substitutes

You can replace fresh eggs with egg substitutes. ¼ cup of egg substitute is equal to one egg. To reduce cholesterol, replace a large egg with two egg whites in recipes without affecting the outcome. When kneading dough, carefully observe it to ensure the right consistency, and make minor adjustments if needed.

Egg temperature

Eggs should be at room temperature. To quickly warm them up to room temperature, put a whole egg (without cracking it) into a cup of hot tap water for 5-10 minutes.


Liquid temperature

Making bread can be tricky. If the liquid is too cold, your bread won’t rise. If it’s too hot, the yeast will die. To get it just right, use lukewarm liquid that’s around 27-32°C/80-90°F for most bread recipes and 43-46°C/110-115°F for the quick/rapid/express (1 to 1:30 hour bread “settings.” Don’t use a liquid hotter than 50°C/120°F, as it will affect the yeast’s ability to work. If you don’t have a thermometer, use your body temperature as a guide. If the water temperature feels comfortable to touch, it will likely be comfortable for the yeast.


What are the basic ingredients to make basic bread?

The basic ingredients to make bread are like instruments in an orchestra; each one does a specific job and gives a unique flavour to the bread. The right amount of each ingredient is essential to get the best taste. When you bake bread, a reaction happens to make a final masterpiece.

Excellent bread is as good as the ingredients that go into it. The basics for bread are simple: liquid like water or milk, fat like butter or oil, flour, sugar, salt, and yeastBread can taste better using additional ingredients, different grains and floursThere are also quite a few bread improvers that you can add to your home-baked bread, depending on what quality you are trying to improve.


This article is part of “How to bake awesome bread


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