Milk powder is a pantry staple however only a few are aware of just how valuable it can be when making desserts like cakes, brownies, and cookies. In this article, we explore what milk powder is and the importance it has in baking.
Milk powder is one of the ingredients you can use during baking that can make almost anything that comes out of the oven 5x better. It is also called powdered milk and it is formed when you evaporate liquid milk. It is essentially concentrated milk.
This means that it will contain fat, protein, and flavor. Even better, it does so in a way that does not affect the liquid content of your baking. Adding milk powder to what you are baking adds a bonus layer of richness, sweetness and creaminess.
Milk powder is also dry, making it ideal for the current baking-heavy time we are in. It has a low moisture content which means that it can last longer. There is no need to refrigerate it and it has a shelf life of over one year in your pantry.
Chef Christina Tosi, author of Momofuku Milk Bar and Milk Bar: Kids Only, does not believe that there is any existing dessert that can’t be made better with the addition of milk powder. She said:
“Milk powder has an amazing way of adding a terrific baseline flavor. It can make ice creams milkier, denser, silkier—and cookies chewier.”
Her Mint Cookies and Cream Cookie Pie recipe includes a tablespoon of nonfat milk powder that gets mixed in with the flour and some other ingredients like cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda, softened butter and sugar.
According to Tosi, it adds depth, and intensifies the chocolate flavor, “making those dark vanilla notes of a chocolate chip cookie taste more magical and regular chocolate taste more luxurious.”
Epi contributor Ramin Ganeshram, the author of Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago, also agrees. She says, “nothing is better than milk powder to give cookies a chewy texture and a slight crust.”
She also finds milk powder especially useful while baking bread. According to her, it makes sandwich bread rise higher and flatbreads more tender.
On the other hand, liquid milk leaves room for the leavened dough to retain more gas which makes it lighter. Unfortunately, liquid milk also increases the moisture content in batters and doughs, and when it is too much, it can ruin the texture of the finished product.
Some other great applications of milk powder in baking include:
In baking brownies: Lani Halliday, pastry chef and owner of Brutus Bakeshop, not only likes to add a tablespoon of milk powder to the dry ingredients, but she also likes to go further by making brown buttermilk powder.
In making doughnuts and other fried dough: When the dough is enriched with milk powder, it develops a rich creaminess which when fried transforms into a very tender dough.
What unique ways do you like to use milk powder?