There’s been a resurgence of all things from the 80’s lately. I find it highly entertaining, especially as the people most embracing this style are generally too young to really remember it from the first time around. If I was allowed to use hairspray when I was younger, I’m sure my hair would have been as feathered as the rest of them. Secretly I’m thankful that the already awkward-enough middle school pictures of me aren’t further enhanced by a feathered bang.
One of the byproducts of making cheese is an abundance of whey. Early uses of whey included incorporating it into the slop you feed your pigs. Seeing as I live in an apartment and don’t have a herd of swine at the ready to gobble up the leftover whey, I’m looking for alternative uses. I also hate to see any food stuffs go to waste, so any recipe that can incorporate this whey seems like it’s worth a try. When I found a recipe for whey bread called “Italian Feather Bread,” it seemed that it couldn’t be more appropriately timed.
This is a quick bread that only requires one long rise. It was easy to make on a weeknight, and was heartily enjoyed the next evening when we brought it to some friends for dinner.
This recipe is adapted from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company recipe book, by Ricki Carroll.
Italian Feather Bread
4 tsp. Perfect Rise yeast (or 2 packages active dry yeast)
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup warm water
3/4 cup hot whey (you can use milk if you don’t have whey)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut up
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 cups all purpose white flour
2 tsp. salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten
cornmeal for dusting pan
1. Butter baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal; set aside.
2. Stir the yeast, sugar and warm water together in a large mixing bowl. Let sit until yeast dissolves and starts to bubble.
3. In another bowl, melt the butter in the hot whey. Microwave if the whey is not hot enough. Let cool to lukewarm.
4. Add the salt to whey mixture and combine with yeast mixture.
5. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring well between each addition.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Use a baker’s scraper or large spatula to scrape under the flour and dough, folding over and pressing down with your hand.
7. Repeat until the dough has absorbed enough flour to be easy to handle.
8. Knead dough for 2-4 minutes, keeping hands well floured.
9. When the dough is smooth, let rest for 5 minutes.
10. Divide into two even balls.
11. Roll each half into a rectangle, approximately 12″x 8″
12. Start with the wide end and roll dough up tightly. Pinch ends closed.
13. Place the loaves on cookie sheet and cover with clean, lint-free dish towel. Place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 50-60 minutes.
14. Preheat oven to 425 F.
15. Brush loaves with beaten egg white.
16. Cook until a rich golden color, about 30-40 minutes.
17. Cool on a rack.
18. Enjoy while still fresh, preferably with friends, a bottle of wine, and some butter.