"Exotic" Buttermilk

Posted on: August 11, 2009


I’m obsessed. But at least I know why. I’ve spent many years of my life away from the US and have learned to live without as well as create my own substitutions for certain foods. One such item is buttermilk. Sure, you can get it in Asia, but who wants to pay $11 Singaporean dollars for 1 pint of sour milk? (Thank goodness a DIY version is super easy to make on one’s own!)

Anyway, it’s funny what you miss when you’re far from home and also what things get the label “exotic”–simple things like good-quality cheese, bread, nuts, herbs, dried fruit and chocolate that cost an arm and a leg but which you buy anyway because living without is just too sad and horrifying to imagine (at least for me it is).

Now that I’m back State-side, I am of course taking complete advantage of all these much-missed foods, especially buttermilk. (Too bad I am already missing things like pink guava, mangosteens, kuey teow and dim sum…sigh. Will I ever be content 😛 ) I had almost an entire quart of buttermilk left over from the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake I made before, so I immediately started scouring the web for recipes that required a large amount of the stuff. This recipe for strawberry buttermilk tart that I found on The LoveBite does exactly that–buttermilk in both the crust and the custard!

So–changes I made to the original: for the crust, I used a simple recipe from my go-to Swiss cookbook, TipTopf, replacing the water/cream component with buttermilk. For the custard, the only thing I didn’t do was top the tart with strawberries–definitely would have; just didn’t have any at home at the time.

I’d never actually heard of or tasted “buttermilk tart” before (apparently it’s a Southern US thing). It’s easy-peasy to put together and bakes up all golden–meringue-y on the top and custard-y on the bottom. Loved it.

(Strawberry) Buttermilk Tart (taken from The LoveBite)



200g flour

2 pinches of salt

100g cold butter

2-3 tbsp sugar

grated zest of 1/2 lemon

1 egg

1-2 tbsp buttermilk


2 cups buttermilk

1 cup milk (I used non-fat–no issues.)

3 oz butter

3 eggs, separated

3 tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

grated zest of 1 lemon

2 pints fresh strawberries (optional–I left them out)


Prepare the pastry: Combine and stir together the flour and salt.

Then, cut in the cold butter, carefully mixing it in together with your fingertips.

Add the lemon zest, egg and buttermilk. Stir together quickly–until the dough is just formed.

Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre heat the oven to 350f / 180c

Place a large sheet of baking parchment on your counter space…at least 20 inches…sprinkle a little flour onto it. Place the pastry disc in the centre. Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the pastry and use a rolling pin to roll the pastry out into a 17 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick.

Butter the 9 inch springform pan, then place it upside down in the centre of the pastry. Place your hand under the baking parchment, use your other hand to hold the springform pan in place and carefully flip the pastry and pan. Ease the pastry down into the pan and peel back the baking parchment. Carefully mould the pastry to the bottom and sides of the pan. I re-use the parchement by tearing it into pieces and I line the bottom and sides of the pastry with it. Then place the 8 inch pan into the centre. You are going to ‘blind-bake’ the pastry shell and this will stop the sides from collapsing. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, remove the 8 inch pan and peel back the baking parchment.  Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork…every inch or so. This pastry has a little rise in it and will have puffed up. That’s okay.  Pop it back into the oven for another 10 minutes (I didn’t do this, and it turned out fine).

Start preparing the Buttermilk custard: Place the milk and butter in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts; remove from heat (Do not let it boil).

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla.

In a smaller (very clean) mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they foam. Add a pinch of salt and continue beating until the egg whites look glossy white and hold stiff peaks.

Pour the hot milk in a slow and steady stream into the egg yolk mix. Whisk constantly to do this. Stop pouring and keep whisking if you can’t do both at once. This mix will thinken and you don’t want the eggs to get lumpy. Whisk the buttermilk into the yolks. Add the lemon zest.

Spoon about 1/4 of the egg white mix and fold it into the yolk mix by strirring from the bottom and up and over in a circular motion. Add the rest of the egg whites. Do not beat the batter as all of the air in the egg whites will be beaten out of the custard and it is this which makes the custard so fluffy and light.

Pour the batter into the tart shell and sprinkle some brown sugar on top.

Bake about 45 mins or until golden on top and the custard is just set in the middle.


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