Yogurt is a cultured dairy product known for its ability to promote healthy digestion due to its live active cultures. It can be tolerated by some people with lactose allergies and is a substitute for many dairy products in both cooking and baking. You can substitute yogurt for milk in yeast breads, quick breads and sourdough starter breads.
Breads made with yogurt instead of milk will have a sour tang similar to that of sourdough bread. When substituting yogurt, you can thin it with water to get a milk-like consistency or keep it as is and use a bit less flour than called for in your recipe. Warm the yogurt first before combining it with the yeast, being careful not to exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help the activity of the yeast cultures, encouraging the bubbles needed to rise your bread.
Yogurt substituted for milk in quick breads adds flavor and moistness. Because of the sugar in quick bread, the tartness of the yogurt is masked. When substituting for the milk in your quick bread recipe, replace the yogurt cup-for-cup by subtracting 1 teaspoon of baking powder and adding ½ teaspoon of baking soda.
Sourdough breads are made with a starter that serves as a yeast substitute to leaven the bread. The University of Idaho Extension Service recommends making sourdough starters with yogurt instead of milk because the lactic acid bacteria (good-for-you bacteria) in the yogurt helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria during fermentation. Using yogurt instead of milk when making sourdough bread will also encourage the bread to rise, although it may result in a loaf with more tang.
Yogurt is available sweetened or unsweetened, and those labeled as “light” contain artificial sweeteners to reduce the number of calories. When substituting yogurt for milk in bread recipes, choosing the unsweetened variety will eliminate the need to adjust the amount of sugar called for in your recipe. The decision of whether to use nonfat, lowfat, or yogurt made from whole milk is up to you, because small amounts of butterfat added to bread have no negative effects.