Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bread and Cheese

Hey look!  I grew food!  Not quite a pound, but it's a start.  If the hookworms hadn't eaten my only (so far) ripe tomato, that'd be more like three pounds.  It was a big tomato... sigh.

Not only is bread and cheese an excellent, inexpensive, delicious, and quick meal... it's a good morning of activity.  I had a gallon of milk that had been purchased two weeks ago but had only been opened a few days ago and was barely dented.  I knew it was going to turn, and soon.  So, craving lasagne (as one does) I decided to make it into some nice ricotta.  It's pretty simple.

Add half a gallon of milk and the juice of two lemons (I used limes, actually) to a cold, cold saucepan.  Stir briefly.  Put on very low heat and add a thermometer with a temperature alarm (easiest) or regular thermometer.  Heat sloooooowly to 175°F.  This should take nearly an hour.  DO NOT STIR during this time.  when it reaches temperature, turn up the heat to medium and reset the temp alarm to 200°.  DO NOT STIR.  It should reach temperature in about five minutes.  When it does, remove from heat.  Let stand for ten minutes, then pour into a colander lined with cheesecloth (why do you think they call it that?  Hah).  Let drain for ten minutes, then refrigerate.  Sprinkle a little salt if you like, you're done.

I like to drain it over a bowl to save the whey.  It's really good for making bread... which leads me up to my bread-making portion of the morning.

Basic Bread

This is a recipe based on King Arthur Flour's Supermarket Italian Bread, and I was going to call my variation that, when I realized that what makes it Italian no longer applied.  I don't put on the sesame seeds.  I'm using whey instead of water.  Heck, it's technically not even bread, it's sandwich rolls because I portioned them out in 4.6 ounce blobs and made them into a hoagie-shaped roll.

The whey from the cheesemaking gives it a bit of sourdough twang, but not the depth of true sourdough.  It's packed with protein though which is why you can add extra moisture (I upped the whey by half a cup over the recipe's standard water) and still have a strong dough that will hold up under its own weight.


  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup dried potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons
    instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm leftover whey, or 1 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

Place all the ingredients, in order, in the bowl of a stand mixer, or large mixing bowl. Stir the dough for two minutes on lowest speed or by hand.   Knead the dough with a bread hook or by hand for 5 to 8 minutes, until it's smooth and supple, adding more water or flour as needed. 

Cover the dough and allow it to rise for 1 hour, or until it's doubled in bulk.

For Italian Loaves, transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth 16" log. Place the logs into the two wells of a lightly greased Italian bread pan, cover, and let the loaves rise until very puffy, about 1 hour.

For Sandwich Rolls, divide into eight pieces and roll into rough logs.  Sprinkle a half-sheet pan with cornmeal and lay out the rolls four across in two rows, flattening slightly into oval shapes.  Cover and let rise until rolls are puffy.

Slash the loaves or rolls diagonally, making 3 slashes in each, and immediately put them in the oven. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 25 minutes, until they are golden brown. For the crispiest crust, turn off the oven, prop the door open, and allow the bread to cool in the oven.

So that's how I spent my day.  What have you been doing?  :D

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