Cows and Cakes!


Sara Cipressi

Pennridge student showcases milk. Not only a cow product for baking but also a healthy breakfast option. May 24.

What really makes a cake? Some say it’s having colorful icing and extra sprinkles. Others will say it’s the flavor of the cake or the pairing with a fun flavored filling. However, these preferences cannot be met on a cake without the staple ingredients of dairy products. With the constantly changing world and the creation of new diets, many are beginning to limit or even entirely remove dairy products from their consumption. This has become increasingly easy in daily snacks or other items but can create quite a stir-up in the baking industry. Ingredients such as milk, butter, cream, sour cream, yogurt, and sweetened condensed milk are just some of the more commonly used dairy products in baking. So what would it look like if we removed all these ingredients?

From a dairy farm standpoint of this issue, farmers rely on traditional ingredients and recipes to stay in business. Often local farms will sell strictly milk from their cows or branch out to make some additional dairy products from the milk collected. Many small business bakeries will create a relationship with a local farm to create what is a similar setup to a subscription with the farm for specific quantities of dairy products. This allows for a mutual relationship or a setup where both parties benefit. The bakery receives fresh, local dairy products to use in their baking that will later be sold, creating profit for the company. The farm receives payment from the bakery for the dairy products allowing them also to receive profit and continue production. If one of these systems were to halt, such as the farm closing down due to lack of business, the bakery would be unable to continue production until finding a new seller. These systems work hand in hand to support one another while also creating profit and a name for their own companies. In reference to a bakery’s reliance on dairy products, Lauren Gunning, an employee at Landis bakery, said without dairy products in the bakery, “ it would just look pretty empty. In a bakery, it seems like everything has dairy in it or was cooked with dairy or something like that. Dairy pulls all the baking together and is a staple for baking and just bakeries in general.”

Looking at things specifically baking, means dairy is a pretty common ingredient. Though it’s not always needed and can be easily subbed, it’s easy to come across and a staple in many recipes. For some, though, dairy is an obstacle. Whether it’s an allergy, intolerance, or simply a dietary lifestyle, many people are limited. This is when specialized bakeries, substitutes, or home baking comes in handy.

When baking at home, it’s pretty simple to sub out dairy products. Many grocery stores carry plant-based substitutes or alternative kinds of milk. Some common brands include Baybell Plant Based, Earth Balance, Boursin Plant Based, Forager Project, and Country Crock Plant Based. Imitation milk such as oat, almond, cashew, coconut, and soy are also readily available and easy to find. The substitution ratios are usually 1:1 making it simple to swap. Brenna Broadbent, a Pennridge senior, has recently discovered she has a dairy intolerance. It’s been around six months since she cut dairy out of her eating habits and had to change parts of her lifestyle. She said, “It’s harder to find good food options when out in public, and it’s really expensive, but there’s not much to do about it. Cooking myself and eating in is much easier than finding food going out. Many restaurants have accommodations, but lots of chains and small places do not.” She also hasn’t had much experience in dairy-free baking but is currently looking at local bakeries for a graduation party cake. Though it can be a challenge, it’s not impossible to bake dairy-free and source the right products when baking.

Altogether, we can see how both the animals we keep as livestock and our lifestyles intertwine in many ways. We have many thanks to give to our animal friends for pulling together baking. However, if dairy is not something you wish to include in your diet, there are still ways to enjoy cake! Whether you are consuming dairy products or living dairy free, there are always ways to support local farms, and businesses, while still picking the best option for you.