Sep 30

Whey Bread – A monstrous Ciabatta

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.

Sliced Ciabatta bread made with whey

Sliced Ciabatta bread made with whey

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.

Total time:


  • 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


  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, and the kneed the dough for about 5 minutes.

    Whey Ciabatta Dough

    Whey Ciabatta Dough

  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for about 8 hours or overnight.

    Whey Ciabatta Dough Risen

    Whey Ciabatta Dough Risen

  3. Cover a work surface in flour, turn out the dough and pull it into a long oblong.

    Forming the ciabatta

    Forming the ciabatta

  4. 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.

    Ciabatta ready for the oven

    Ciabatta ready for the oven

  5. 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.

    Whey Ciabatta

    Whey Ciabatta

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  1. Laura Etheridge

    Was the whey you used for this beautiful bread sweet or acidic whey?
    I’m a little confused because I’ve been reading that you can only use sweet whey in breads (whey that comes from cheeses made with a bacterial culture, not with acids like lemon juice or vinegar).
    I’m trying to find out if I could use the whey leftover from the ricotta cheese and yogurt I made in place of water for baguette dough, but it would fall into the acidic category, so according to those posts it wouldn’t work.
    I’d appreciate any input you could give me.

  2. Liz Vrugt

    does yogurt fall under the acid category? And I believe that yogurt is made from bacterial culture

    1. Stuart

      Yes yogurt does fall into the acid category and made from a bacterial culture

  3. Jarrod James

    Could I use a mix of gluten free flours for this?

    1. Stuart

      I don’t think so as most gluten free flour mixes are pretty weak at holding large bubbles. Why don’t you try it with a little bit and let us know what happens

  4. Lindsyjudd

    Excellent!!! I made it with yogurt whey, so delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

  5. Jenni

    Does this need to proof a second time between pulling it oblong and baking?

    1. Stuart

      It depends on how much you handle the dough. If you were quite rough with it, give it 30mins just to rest before baking

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