We are curious cooks. We often ask each other what would happen if…? What if we allow this dough to rise for longer? What if we leave out the boiling step for soft pretzels? What if we used whey instead of water in our sandwich bread?
What exactly is whey, you ask? Good question. Whey is the liquid that you drain from yogurt to thicken it, or from mozzarella or ricotta as it firms up. It is full of protein and nutrients, so it is a great addition to baked goods in place of water.
We did a side-by-side comparison of water and whey in two of our favorite sandwich breads, and boy, were we surprised by the results! The breads made with whey were smaller and denser than those made with water. And it seemed like the whey took longer to become absorbed into the flour than the water did. (The whey doughs were cracked and crumbly-looking, even after longer mixing and kneading and the addition of more water.)
My advice? If you choose to replace the water in your homemade breads with whey, add more whey as necessary to get your dough smooth, and allow it to rise for a bit longer to compensate for the delay in rising time the whey causes.
As for me? I’m sticking with water.