A recent online search yielded almost zero results for the difference in baking performance between almond milk and regular dairy milk, or the difference between rice milk and dairy milk. Most company web sites or blogs note that alternative milk beverages such as almond, soy and rice can be substituted in a 1:1 ratio, but they give no details on the potential outcome differences in the baked products, like muffins. However, a quick glance at the differences in nutritional content between the beverages led me to believe there might be small variances in the final baked products:
|1% dairy milk||Almond Milk||Rice Milk|
|Protein||8 gm||1 gm||1 gm|
|Fat||2. 5 gm||2.5 gm||2.5 gm|
|Carbohydrates||12 gm||8 gm||23 gm|
|Calories||100 cal||60 cal||120 cal|
With the help of a talented dietetic intern with whom I have the opportunity to mentor, (and who first did research on almond milk vs. regular milk in baking) I baked up a couple batches of milk or alternative milk containing muffins. Then we asked folks at the office of a food-company where my intern works to taste-test the muffins on acceptability characteristics. This is not formal research, but the folks at the food company are accustomed to doing taste-tests; so the results can probably viewed with some validity:
|1% Dairy Milk||Almond Milk||Rice Milk|
|Appearance||Raised highest; lightest color; smooth top||Light color; smooth top||Slightly more golden; cracked top|
|Texture||Moist; tender crumb||Light, fluffy texture; fairly tender crumb||Crumbly; dry; almost gritty|
|Taste||Could taste ingredients including eggs||Subtle almond flavor||Sweetest flavor; slight bitter aftertaste of baking powder|
As you can see, there are certainly differences in milk vs alternative milk beverages. In terms of overall performance, regular dairy milk performed the best – with higher rising, better moistness, and a as a blank slate for flavor additions; this is potentially due to protein levels 8 times higher than other beverages. Almond milk added a very slight nutty flavor to the muffins which could be a pleasant addition to some baked good; the slightly drier texture could be remedied by under-baking the product by a few minute or by adding juicy ingredients like berries. With twice the number of carbs as the other beverages, it’s not surprising the rice milk muffins had the sweetest flavor – and the driest (almost grainy) texture; thus when baking with rice beverage, the amount of added sugar could likely be reduced by a couple tablespoons.
Stay tuned…I plan to repeat this kitchen experiment with other baked goods!
Have you had differing results with dairy milk vs alternative milk beverages?
Above recipe updated from Spiced Lemon Muffins.