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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Scones

    Buttermilk is hard to find where I live. What can I use as an alternative?

    From the nigella team:

    Buttermilk is slightly acidic which is important when making scones as it reacts with the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in the recipe to produce carbon dioxide which causes the scones to rise. You can make your own buttermilk substitute by adding 15mls/1 tablespoon of an acid ingredient, such as lemon juice or vinegar to 250mls/1 cup milk. Let it stand for 10 minutes before using.

    As buttermilk usually has a fat content of 1-2% we would suggest using milk with a similar fat level, such as semi-skimmed (reduced fat or low fat) milk. Avoid using skimmed (fat-free) milk as it tends to turn watery when the acid is added. If you use vinegar then choose one with a fairly neutral flavour, such as white wine or cider vinegar.

    If you have some low fat natural yogurt in your fridge than this can also be used as an alternative to buttermilk and you can thin the yogurt with a little regular milk first if you prefer. Another alternative is to add some cream of tartar to the dry ingredients and using regular milk in the scone dough. If you opt for this then use 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar for every 250mls/1 cup milk used in the recipe imstead of buttermilk.

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