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Friday, February 15, 2013

Whey to Go, Bread

Remember that ricotta cheese I made a few posts back? I used a half-gallon of raw milk and had lots of whey left over. What to do? After scrounging around the Interthing I found tons of ways to use whey – everything from hair treatments to fermenting vegetables to soaking beans (that sounds kinda cool) to feeding it the “farm critters” (I got rid of those a few years back, Manhattan is no place for cattle).

One idea I loved: using whey in place of stock or water when making soup. But one I liked even better: substituting it for water when baking bread. So I tried what looked like a simple, delicious white bread recipe and it was exactly that: simple and delicious. If you’ve got some whey weighing you down (sorry), this is perfect. The bread is classic white bread, great toasted, awesome grilled cheese sandwiches, and very easy to make.

Whey White Bread
Slightly adapted from Grandmother Bread
Makes 2 loaves

3 cups warm ricotta whey
How warm is "warm"? Here’s how to tell if the liquid (in this case, whey) is the right temperature: 
It should be about 100 degrees. I test it by sprinkling a few drops on the inside of my wrist (the same way Grandma tested the baby’s bath water). It should feel just slightly warmer than your body temperature (98.6). Since my whey had been refrigerated, I heated it on low, testing every few minutes. Of course, I let it go too long and it got a little too hot, so I moved it into the bowl and let it cool down for a few minutes.
1 tablespoon yeast (1 packet)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
6-8 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven 350.

Combine the warm whey, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Let it sit for about five minutes until it’s slightly bubbly around the edges. Stir in three cups of flour with a wooden spoon. Add more flour a little at a time, stirring until the dough becomes too stiff to stir. Move dough to a floured surface, flour your hands, and begin kneading, adding flour as needed. I ended up using about 7 cups, but depending on your circumstances you might need more or less). Knead for about 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic and no longer sticky.

Grease a bowl and let the dough rise, covered, until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down, knead gently in the bowl, and divide in half. With floured hands, shape roughly into loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise 1 hour then bake for 25 minutes until golden.

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