I am a baker, food photographer and recipe developer. I like to experiment with unconventional combinations, create simple baking methods that can lead to delicious and complex results.
Here is where I share unique but accessible baking recipes, which I hope will light a fire in you to race to your kitchen.
My professional background is in political analysis with a regional focus on the middle east, and specifically on women and gender. I’m a former Fulbright scholar and I spent +12 years doing research in that field. During that time I often found myself distracted by chocolate swirled loaves of babka, muffins that perfectly domed, and chewy chocolate chunk cookies.
Just like my daughters do now, as a kid I stealthily hung around the kitchen when my mom baked. She would make chocolate chip cookies from the recipe on the back of the Nestle package (a la Phoebe’s grandmother) or use a random grocery-store cookbook to make a buttermilk chocolate cake (see above). I would very (im)patiently wait for batter-covered beaters to lick, and I’d pounce on the first tortilla that came off the griddle (spread with salted butter while still hot, still my idea of in heaven).
Once I shipped off to college to study politics, I began baking more on my own and got an evening job as a gelateire ( Italian gelato maker) at a local cafe. When I look back at the many (too MANY) jobs I’ve held since then, gelateire was definitely my favorite stint; the very best part of it was experimenting with my own recipes and creating new flavors for the cafe.
But it wasn’t until after my graduate degree from Georgetown that I began baking more intently and attempting to develop my own recipes. I have a bit of professional baking experience from taking classes from trained chefs but the recipes here are products of a lot of baking at home.
I chose the name buttermilk because it is one of my favorite baking ingredients. It makes cakes light and tender, and well, totally scrumptious. The first chocolate cake I made when I was 16 was a buttermilk chocolate cake. I still make that recipe today and love it dearly.
I do this thing I call “imagi-baking” when I’m doing school drop-off, putting the girls to bed, or right before I sleep. I imagine, sometimes picture in great detail, how I am going to bake something, and it’s how I come up with some of my ideas, like my hidden rainbow cake. It’s weird but it seems to work!
If you make a recipe of mine and decide to share a photo you took of it on instagram, please tag me @buttermilkbysam! I’d love to see it. If you want to share the recipe with friends or family, copy paste a link to the recipe page on my blog.
These posts and recipes are the result of a lot of my own hard work. With that in mind please link back to my site and:
• Do not publish my recipes on your site or your Instagram feed.
• All images and content on this site are my own work and are copyrighted.
This is a hard question to answer because it depends. It depends on the ingredient and the bake itself. Before you substitute an ingredient, do a little research online but don’t believe everything you read (flax for eggs has never worked in my thick cocoa brownies, for example. And if I see one more source suggesting to substitute buttermilk with lemon juice or vinegar mixed with milk, I will burst into tears.).
In every recipe of mine I have a section called Ingredients, and there is where I’ll discuss which swaps can be made – these suggestions are based on either me having tried the recipe with those swaps or having done it with another similar recipe. Other than that, it will always be difficult to say.
A packed up of flour can weigh up to 20 more grams than a loose cup. Flour makes all the difference in a tender cake and a soft or dry bread. Most of my recipes have ingredients listed by volume and by weight (grams), generally it’s best to bake with a scale but if you don’t have one I try to provide the cup equivalent. This won’t always be as accurate but it should get you close enough.
It happens to the best of us. I fail all. the. time. I can’t even tell you how many times I messed up my own stuff. Why do things go wrong? Sometimes it’s because we made a hasty substitution, or we didn’t follow the method correctly.
I have found that one of the best ways to avoid failing is to read the full recipe intently before I begin baking. This allows me to first, ensure I have everything I need (so I’m not making any last-minute, ill-informed substitutions) and second, to make sure I understand all the steps before I start.
The other, and I’ve found often, thing that can make recipes fail is using different brands of ingredients. This is why I’ll usually try to specify which brand I used. If you don’t succeed the first time, don’t give up (if I gave up, this blog wouldn’t exist!). Try again, and you can always email me (or DM me on instagram – I’m faster there!) to troubleshoot.
I do sponsored posts with select brands that fit into the buttermilk ethos. And by that I mean, brands that I myself use in my own kitchen – things that are affordable or worth the price for the quality. This applies to to ingredients, tools, gadgets or appliances used for baking. So, for example, you will never see me do a sponsored post with Ferrari (if you will indulge this insane idea, lol). Unless they want my geometric rainbow cake riding on the hood that is….
By using affiliate links and hosting ads on the site. All those ads on the site, earn me a small income which I use to pay for all my costs (ingredients, tools, subscriptions to photo and video editing software, etc.).
Ok, I saw this one coming. Maybe because THEY ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING EVER?! Or maybe because I am a child of the 80s and grew up on Lisa Frank school supplies? But ok, the current obsession likely has more to do with the fact that I have two little ones. They are both really, really, into rainbows and unicorns, and is a huge source of inspiration for so much of my baking. Now if you’ll excuse me, my elder has just asked me if I can make “cookie dough brownies” and “eyes-cream” so I need to imagi-bake my way through those.
I do. You can read it here.