Heavy Cream vs. Milk in Baking


When it comes to baking, every ingredient should play a role and affect the outcome of a meal. Dairy products like milk, heavy cream, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream and cheese can be essential for the success of baked goods. In recipes that call for milk, some home bakers will wonder if heavy cream could make for a better replacement. At other times, bakers run out of heavy cream and wonder if milk will serve as a sufficient substitute. Because of the differences in content, both milk and heavy cream have different purposes in baking. Milk tends to add moisture, structure and taste to baked goods. Heavy cream has some similarities to milk, but it can also act as a thickener or creamer.

The biggest difference between milk and heavy cream is the level of fat. Heavy cream is made from the fat of cow’s milk. Once the fat is separated from the milk, it can be turned into a variety of culinary products, such as whipping cream, half and half, or even butter. Cream can be used to create and enrich soups, sauces, custards, ice creams and frostings.

If you run out of heavy cream while making a recipe, there are substitutes to try out. One of the most common substitutes is to melt some butter and pour it into whole milk. A key step to making this work is to ensure that the butter cools down before adding it to the milk. Another substitute would be mixing Greek yogurt with milk. Greek yogurt is naturally thick, so adding some milk will water it down enough so that it has the same consistency as heavy cream. While there are other variations of heavy cream substitute, nothing beats the real thing. Real heavy cream is especially needed if you want to make whipped cream.

Some people like to add heavy cream in places where the recipe calls for milk. I have done this before with french toast and it was absolutely delicious. However, keep in mind that heavy cream is more decadent because it has much higher fat content. It probably isn’t a good idea to add heavy cream to cake batter, which already has plenty of fat in it. If you are not worried about your diet, then this is a good opportunity to get creative and try replacing milk with heavy cream.

Check out this healthy baking recipe: