March 13, 2011

Homemade Italian Bread

Last week I said I would try making my Italian bread recipe with the liquid whey left from my cheese-making. After reading different things about acid whey and sweet whey, I wasn't sure what my bread would taste like, or if it would work at all. Because I used lemon juice for curdling the milk (acid whey) it sounded like my bread would not come out well but hey, I had to try. If I'm gonna stick with making cheese I need to incorporate the by-products into my life and not just throw them away. Based on my trial run it looks as though the cheese-making can stay!

I used 2 cups of whey liquid and 1 cup of water instead of the 3 cups of water I usually use in the Italian Bread recipe I've been baking with for years.

Jennifer's "Whey Italian" Bread

2 cups liquid whey
1 cup water
--warm to around 100 - 105 degrees. Warm to the touch, but not hot.
Add 1/2 tsp sugar to liquid and stir
Dissolve 1 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast in the liquid and let proof

Add 1 - 2 cups of flour to the bowl and mix thoroughly. 
sift 2 tsp salt to the next cup of flour that you mix in and stir well

Add enough flour to make a stiff dough ( about 7-8 cups total)

Knead until smooth and elastic

Let rise in a slightly oiled (olive oil) and covered bowl until doubled in bulk

Punch down, divide and form into three balls, let rise in bowl again
Lightly knead and form into loaves. I have made this bread into both round loaves and longer baguette shaped loaves. Either works well so do what you like!
Let the loaves rise on heavy greased cookie sheets that have been sprinkled with cornmeal.*
Make three cuts across the tops of the loaves with a sharp knife just before placing in a 450 degree oven. Mist the loaves with water as soon as you put them in the hot oven, and 2 more times within the first 6-10 minutes. Total baking time is about 20 minutes. Loaves are done when they are nicely brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

* You can use a baking stone in the oven. Heat the stone up with the oven, then sprinkle some cornmeal on it and slide a loaf - or two- onto it from the cookie sheet it raised on. Be careful not to deflate it while transferring.


My verdict? Terrific! I will definitely use the whey again. Other uses for the whey:  many people mentioned feeding the compost; watering certain types of plants; and mixing it in dog food. My chickens also enjoyed drinking it!

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