whole wheat buttermilk brownies-4

Whole Grain Buttermilk (or Yogurt) Brownies

the tender and cakey crumb on whole grain buttermilk brownies

I’m not 100% sure what prompted me to chose these Buttermilk Brownies (also called Texas Sheet Cake) for my baking day project. I was originally trying to decide between hot milk cake recipes (maybe this one, but leaning toward this one because of the oil instead of butter) to make with Ermine buttercream.

Then out of the blue, I went the chocolate route. I liked the sound of the Buttermilk Brownies recipe on brittanyspantry.com. They sounded mild (not outrageously fudgy), with a cake-like texture that I wanted to try. Plus they called for a chocolate icing that sounded fun.

whole grain buttermilk brownies AKA Texas sheet cake

Adapting the recipe for freshly-milled wheat flour worked out very well. Granted, my baking time was longer than the original recipe called for. I’ve been having problems with underbaking, so this time I pushed the baking time longer and increased the oven temp by 10°. This worked out well and the brownies were baked evenly throughout. I feared hard, crusty edges (in a dry, bad way, not in a caramelized, delicious way) but that didn’t happen.

Since I rarely have buttermilk in the house, I used a substitution of yogurt combined with milk. I’m having good luck with using yogurt in baking with whole grain wheat flour, which tenderizes it and makes a nice moist crumb.

whole grain buttermilk brownies with chocolate glaze icing

The icing is sweet and sugary, and if left to cool on the counter gets a nice crust on the top. Once they’re stored in a container, the crust seems to melt back into sticky territory. I froze most of my brownies, and when I thawed them the texture changed to glossy and sticky rather than firm.

I love that this recipe is an classic Better Homes and Gardens recipe. Tried and true recipes that stand the test of time are my favorites. And this one was a big hit at a little get-together where I shared them.

Whole Grain Buttermilk (or Yogurt) Brownies

Adapted from Buttermilk Brownies.

Makes an 8×8 pan of brownies.



  • 125 g freshly milled hard white wheat flour
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c water
  • 113 g unsalted butter
  • 17 g natural unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 c buttermilk OR scant 1/4 c yogurt (I used homemade yogurt that was a bit too runny to eat), plus milk to fill to 1/4 c
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used seeds scraped from 2/3 of a vanilla bean instead)
  • 1 egg

Chocolate Icing

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tbsp buttermilk or yogurt
  • 140 g powdered sugar
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Spray/grease an 8×8 pan and set aside. Heat oven to 350° (my oven runs cool, so I increased to 360°).
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a sauce pan, melt together the water, butter, and cocoa. If using vanilla beans, add them here as well. Cook, whisking constantly, until smooth. Bring just to a boil, then take off heat.
  4. Pour cocoa mixture into the flour mixture. Mix on low (I used a handheld mixer because with this small amount of ingredients, it scrapes the sides of the bowl and moves through the mixture better than my stand mixer paddle).
  5. Slowly add buttermilk or yogurt/milk and mix. If using vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean, add that here, too.
  6. Add egg and mix.
  7. Turn the mixer speed up and beat for 1 min.
  8. Pour into the prepared dish and bake for 20 min., then check progress. Bake until it springs back in the middle, with a toothpick coming out clean.
  9. Make the icing during the last 10 min. of baking so that it can be poured over the hot brownies and melt into place. In a saucepan, heat the butter, cocoa, and buttermilk or yogurt. Whisk constantly and bring just to a boil. (I needed to add extra milk here because it was too thick.)
  10. Remove from the heat and whisk in powdered sugar and salt to taste. Add a splash of milk if it’s too thick to pour over brownies.
  11. Once the brownies come out of the oven, pour the icing over top and gently smooth out big lumps. The top of the brownies will be tender, so using a light touch is helpful.
  12. Cool completely, and cut into squares. They’re good on day one, but get even better after a day or two. And they freeze well, placed in plastic containers.