After making mozzarella last weekend, I ended up with nearly as much whey as the amount of milk I started with. I didn’t feel I could just through this delicious, slightly fluorescent green coloured liquid away. After a bit of research on some cheese making blogs, I found some people where using whey as a substitute for water or milk when baking bread. Since I was in an Italian cooking frame of mind, I decided to make some ciabatta.
I was feeling a bit rushed when I made the ciabatta, and was doing the recipe from memory. Instead of making a small biga (starter), I made up the whole bread dough in one go. What’s the worst that could happen. Well the yeast must have thought they were in heaven with all that lactose to eat up from the whey, because when I came into the kitchen the next morning, the dough had increased to monstrous proportions, escaped from the bowl and was making a break for it across the kitchen counter. The dough that had escaped from under the plastic wrap had dried out and wasn’t able to be used, but in reality there was a lot of wastage.
The main lesson I’ve learnt when using whey in bread is that it will produce very vigorous rising. During the proofing there was a fantastic ‘beery’, yeasty smell coming from the dough, not unlike a brewery and after baking the bread was more more-ish than usual, with a slight sourdough flavour because of the whey. It also ballooned up more than any ciabatta that I have made in the past, with a more open texture with larger bubbles.
Whey bread ciabatta
I’m including the ingredients and method the way that I made this bread, but since it is quite a vigorous dough, I would suggest using my previous ciabatta recipe to make a biga, but substitute the water with whey. However if you do feel brave enough to make the bread using this method, use a bigger bowl.
- 2 cups (475ml) of whey
- 5 cups (1100g) of strong white bread flour
- 1 tsp of dry active yeast
- 3 tbsp of sugar
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2 tbsp of melted unsalted butter
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, and the kneed the dough for about 5 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for about 8 hours or overnight.
- Cover a work surface in flour, turn out the dough and pull it into a long oblong.
- Place the dough onto a greased baking tray. Sprinkle on a little more flour. Optionally you can cut a few shallow, diagonal slashes into the top of the bread.
- Bake the bread in a 375F (190C) oven for 40mins or until it is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before eating.