What Does Milk Do in Baking?

Baking is both an art and a science, and every ingredient has a purpose. From flour to sugar to eggs, each component plays a vital role in creating the perfect texture, flavor, and appearance in your baked goods.

One ingredient that often gets overlooked is milk. However, milk is a critical ingredient that can make or break a recipe.

In this article, we’ll explore what milk does in baking and why it is such an essential component in creating delicious and moist baked goods.

What Does Milk Do in Baking?

  1. Adds Moisture:

Milk is primarily made up of water, which means it adds moisture to your baked goods. This extra moisture helps create a tender crumb and a moist texture that keeps your treats from becoming dry or crumbly.

  1. Tenderizes:

Milk also contains proteins, such as casein and whey, which can help tenderize your baked goods. These proteins break down when heated, creating a softer and more tender crumb.

  1. Adds Flavor:

Milk has a slightly sweet and creamy taste that can enhance the overall flavor of your baked goods. Whether you’re making a cake, a muffin, or a batch of cookies, adding milk can help create a richer and more satisfying flavor.

  1. Helps with Browning:

Milk contains lactose, a type of sugar that can help with browning in your baked goods. When heated, the lactose caramelizes and creates a golden-brown color that adds to the visual appeal of your treats.

  1. Binds Ingredients Together:

Milk can also act as a binding agent in your baked goods. It helps hold together ingredients like flour, sugar, and eggs, creating a cohesive batter or dough that will result in a more uniform and consistent finished product.


Can I substitute milk with other dairy products in baking?

Yes, you can substitute milk with other dairy products such as cream, buttermilk, or yogurt. These products contain similar proteins and can provide similar benefits to your baked goods.

What type of milk should I use in baking?

You can use any type of milk in baking, but whole milk is the most commonly used. Whole milk has a higher fat content than low-fat or skim milk, which can result in a richer and creamier texture.

Can I use non-dairy milk in baking?

Yes, you can use non-dairy milk such as almond milk or soy milk in baking. However, these milk substitutes may not provide the same texture, flavor, or browning properties as regular milk.


Milk is an essential ingredient in baking that provides moisture, tenderness, flavor, and binding properties. Whether you’re making a simple cake or a complex pastry, milk can help take your baked goods to the next level.

So next time you’re in the kitchen, don’t forget the importance of milk in your recipe. It could be the key to creating your next masterpiece.

I'm Jennifer Tirrell, a self-taught baker, and founder of CakeRe. As an experienced baker and recipe publisher, I have spent over a decade working in the kitchen and have tried and tested countless baking tools and products. From classic cakes to creative twists, I've got you covered. So grab your apron and let's get baking!

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