Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread Made With Whey

Reader Contribution by Heather Alf
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I love to bake and eat homemade bread; however I always was disappointed in the texture of sandwich bread. Most recipes are a little too heavy or crummy to accompany sandwich fillings. A few years ago I discovered the secret to wonderfully textured sandwich bread quite by accident.

I was milking goats and making cheese nearly every day. I was also making something that I called yogurt cheese which is basically the equivalent of Greek yogurt. In making cheeses and yogurt a byproduct is produced called whey. I had a lot of whey and I hated to see it go to waste every day.

I was baking bread one morning and had a giant pot of warm whey it was the perfect temperature so I decided to experiment and use whey to replace the milk and water in my recipe.  I was happy to discover that using whey resulted in flavorful evenly textured bread neither too heavy or to light.

After a little research I learned that the reason that whey works to improve breads texture is that it is an acid. Commercial bakeries usually use acid in some form (vinegar, vitamin c, or even whey) to improve crumb and shelf life of bread.  Now I almost never bake yeast bread without whey or sourdough starter.

The Best Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

10 cups whole wheat flour (my favorite is King Arthur white wheat)
4 cups warm whey plus 1 additional cup of water or whey
(If you don’t have whey on hand use half water and half yogurt)
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons yeast
¼ cup honey
¼ cup melted butter

Electric mixer instructions: In a large electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment add the flour, salt, and yeast incorporate them well. Next melt the butter and honey together on low and allow it to cool to the touch. Turn on the mixer and in a slow stream add the warm whey and melted butter and honey. Allow the mixer to incorporate the ingredients for about a minute.

At this point there may be a bit of flour on the bottom of the mixer bowl. Stop the mixer and use a silicon spatula to scrape all of the flour and unincorporated dough together. Then turn the mixer on and slowly add as much of the extra liquid to make a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Resist the urge to add additional flour. I have found that kneading more water into whole wheat bread dough and having a wetter dough results in a much better textured loaf.

Allow the mixer to knead the dough for at least 5 minutes and no more than 10 minutes.

When the bread is well kneaded coat your hands in vegetable oil, using your hands and a silicon spatula remove the dough from the mixer bowl. Coat the mixer bowl with a little vegetable oil or butter and put the dough back in the bowl. Turn it a few times to coat the outside with oil.

Cover with a dish cloth and place it in a warm place and allow it to rise until it doubles in size – about 2 hours.

After the dough rises it should lose some of its stickiness.  Punch the dough down with well-greased hands.

For sandwich loaves place the dough in 3 standard loaf pans lined with parchment paper or well-greased.

For rolls, form them into fist shaped balls and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Allow to rise once again for about 1 hour.

Fifteen minutes before you are ready to bake them preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit and place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.

You can also bake the bread at 550 degrees for the first 5 to 10 minutes and add the water to the pan right after you insert the bread. The shock of the heat will cause the air pockets in bread to expand and the bread to increase up to 20 percent in size. The steam will prevent the exterior from becoming crispy. (My husband, Shaun’s, 2 cents)

In a bowl, scramble an egg with 2 tablespoons of water, brush the tops of the loaves with the egg mixture, and slash each loaf with a sharp knife. When the oven is pre-heated, quickly place the loaves in and bake them for 45 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them at least 30 minutes to cool before slicing to allow the loaves to firm up and finish cooking internally. Of course, if you want hot fresh bread and aren’t concerned about the shape of the slices you can eat it straight out of the oven. Yield 3 loaves.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Please feel free send me any suggestions, tips, or experiences that might help to make this blog more informative and interesting. Thanks.