This recipe for Whey Bread is a great use for the byproduct of cheese making (whey), and since I just made Feta and have started the six-month process of making bleu cheese, I had a lot of whey. Not making cheese? Got no whey? I’ll tell you how to easily get whey (without making cheese) for your loaves of delicious, homemade whey bread.
First, what is whey? Whey is the liquid remaining when milk has been curdled and strained; there are two types of whey. Sweet whey is produced when making rennet types of cheese (like the Feta recipe I posted). Sour whey (or acid whey) is created when you make cottage cheese, or from straining yogurt.
So, if you aren’t making cheese, you can easily get enough whey to make this recipe for whey bread by straining a quart of plain yogurt through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer, suspended over a bowl. One quart of yogurt will yield 2 cups of whey and 2 cups of a thick Greek-style yogurt.
You can also get whey by straining cultured buttermilk through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer, suspended over a bowl. The amount of whey varies depending on the brand of buttermilk, but a quart should yield the two cups you will need for this recipe. The remaining buttermilk curd makes a nice, smooth spreadable “cheese” that, once lightly salted, I love on an English muffin or crackers.
Why whey? Well, besides not wasting it, whey is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals. In addition, yeast loves whey, so you will get a wonderful rise with your bread when you use whey instead of water.
As I’ve discussed before, here in the South, we typically use soft wheat flours for baking. Biscuits and cakes are all made lighter and fluffier using soft wheat flours (like White Lily and Martha White brands). But for yeast breads, hard wheat flours are best because of their high protein, high gluten content that becomes stretchy when you knead it. That stretchy gluten traps air bubbles and creates the lovely holes in bread.
Instead of using whole-wheat flour, I decided to use a white wheat and add wheat berries. That required that I soak them in water overnight to soften them. A little extra planning made for a nice nutty addition to my bread. I also added some roasted sunflower seeds; I love them in my bread. Both of these are optional inclusions.
This recipe made four round loaves (called Boules). Here they were fresh out of the oven:
Since I was making rustic round loaves, I baked my loaves on a pizza stone in my oven. You can use greased loaf pans, if you prefer: one two-pound loaf pan, or two standard one-pound loaf pans.
Whey bread flavor is so incredible. I hope you’ll bake some!
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 cups whey (warmed to 90°F)
- 2¼ teaspoons dry active yeast (one packet)
- 1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons wheatberries (soaked overnight) - optional
- 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds - optional
- In a large bowl, add the warmed whey, sugar and yeast, whisk to dissolve the sugar and yeast.
- When bubbles begin forming on the surface of the liquid, add the salt and begin adding the flour.
- Using a wooden spoon, or sturdy spatula, stir to combine. The flour mixture will be sticky and wet.
- Cover the blow with a dampened cloth and allow the dough to rise to double (1-2 hours).
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (if using a pizza stone, like I did, place the stone on the center rack of the oven to preheat as the oven is coming to temperature. (I give my stone an extra 15 minutes to get completely hot before baking on it).
- On the bottom rack of the oven, place a pan containing about a cup of water (this will create steam as your bread bakes, giving it a beautiful crispy crust).
- Once the dough had doubled in size, divide it (if making round loaves, into four parts; if using loaf pans, into two parts).
- Turn each part out onto a well-floured surface.
- Flour your hands and knead the dough lightly for about a minute. If making round loaves, knead by stretching the top of the loaf around to the bottom, rotating the dough a quarter turn and repeating this until a round is formed. Place the formed dough on a piece of parchment paper for transfer to the stone (If making standard loaves, place the kneaded loaf into a greased pan).
- Lightly dust the tops with flour (for the round loaves I flour my hands and lightly rub the surface of the bread).
- Place the loaves in the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes (35 minutes in pans). The bread is done when the crust is browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the center.
- Remove from oven to wire racks to cool completely (if baking in pans, remove from pans and allow to cool on racks).