Help light my whey
June 14, 2014 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Rules of thumb for substituting whey for water in the bread machine.

I haven't had a bread machine since the one my mom had when I was a kid 25 years ago. Just bought new Zojirushi, primarily for using up whey after making cheese.

My gut feeling is that I should be able to substitute whey for water at 1 to 1, and just omit sugar, since the whey should be more than enough tuck for the yeast. How off base am I?
posted by colin_l to Food & Drink (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not make two loaves for comparison?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:05 AM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Really don't want to thread sit, but we sure have an early leader for best answer :)
posted by colin_l at 8:12 AM on June 14, 2014

Yeah, I'd do what oceanjesse said, except I'd do three loaves.

1) Your standard recipe (as a control)
2) Your standard recipe with whey subbed for water
3) Your standard recipe, with whey, minus sugar

Taste all three side by side and see which works for you. I suspect that #3 will give you the best results; after all pizza dough doesn't use sugar at all and the yeast has no problem finding enough to eat.

PLEASE let us know how it tastes; my neighbour has a bread machine and I have access to whey.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:54 AM on June 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Whey is about 5% sugar. This is how you do a precise (kitchen) calculation to see if this is possible:

How much sugar would you need to make this bread if you were using sugar? Call that X.

X * 20= amount of whey used to satisfy the sugar requirement for the yeast.

But is X20 enough of a substitute for the amount of water you would have added in?

If it's close, perfect. Go ahead and try that.

If you realize that X20 would only give you half the water you need, the solution is easy...add more water till you get enough water.

The problem is when X20 adds enough sugar...but wayyyyyyy too much water. If you have to add in 5 cups of whey to satisfy the sugar requirement, then it's not going to work because you have too much water. In that scenario, what I would do is add enough whey to satisfy the water requirement, calculate of a deficit the sugar, and add enough sugar to make up for it.

Hope that helps. Please tell me what ends up happening, regardless of which method you choose, because I'd like to try this too.

Also, if you throw up the standard recipe you were going to use in this thread, it would help in answering your question.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:11 PM on June 14, 2014

Something to think about - most of my bread machine recipes call for 1 1/2 T sugar and a T of powdered milk (just the powder). From a chemical composition perspective, does milk powder + water sort of equal whey? I often mix my water with half milk (not powdered) and omit the milk powder. Works fine.

If I were you, I would just use whey as the water (full measure) and leave the sugar the same.

Also, lots of folks have discussed this on the internet before, so their experience may help. Here's a good bunch of people discussing it.
posted by CathyG at 12:28 PM on June 14, 2014

Experienced bread maker here:

Yes, 1-1 substitute should be just fine, or to be more accurate - the variability will be no greater than the variability you get from different types of flour at different times of year. You don't need to add sugar at all - but then you don't need to add sugar with regular flour and water, either - the yeast does exactly what your body does; breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars, and then consumes them. I personally only add sugar to loaves like brioche, maybe a little in a pullman bread or something.

What the whey will give you is a softer, richer tasting bread and you will find that it browns a little more readily in the oven (coming from using no sugar, that is).
posted by smoke at 3:09 PM on June 14, 2014

Thanks y'all. Made the control (mostly by the book) loaf today. Will do the whey one tomorrow, and will update here.

Differences from the book recipe: added a couple T each of wheat bran, wheat germ, and gluten powder.
posted by colin_l at 6:58 PM on June 14, 2014

Please do the same additions to your experimental loaves, to account for confounding variables.

(This is actually how experimental kitchens--Alinea, Fat Duck, Mugaritz, etc--work).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:09 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks again, y'all. The whey & no sugar loaf came out with the same consistency as the control loaf. So I think we have our answer on that one.
posted by colin_l at 11:38 AM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

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