I’m not much of a cheese eater. My favourite dairy product is actually cottage cheese. Growing up back home cheese was never a big part of my diet either. However, there was a type of cheese that I would aways eat on the summer solstice celebration day along with the majority of people celebrating it in Latvia. The classic Latvian caraway seed flavoured cheese made specifically for this celebration. It is called Jāņu siers in Latvian.
This type of cheese is available throughout the year in pretty much any shop, but during the midsummer festival it is most popular along with plenty of beer!
There are various recipes and methods to make it and I’m not going to claim that this is the ‘correct’ one. To be fair I could not care if it is or not. This is a super quick and simple recipe that my mother showed me while I was visiting her in the summer. It works great, it’s super tasty, soft, and moist. And it is the perfect introduction to homemade cheese.
This cheese is made by warming up milk and then introducing acid to make it curdle and separate into whey and curd. The curd is drained off and pressed to remove as much of the whey as possible and to give the cheese a sturdy enough structure and a certain shape.
Quite a lot of whey is left over after making cheese, but fortunately it has many uses. It can be added to sauces, stews, and soups. You can boil pasta or vegetables in it. It can be added to smoothies, or you could straight up drink it. This being a breadmaking channel I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to use it in bread dough.
A couple things to note – whey contains salt and in the case of this recipe the salt content is around 1%, so be aware of that when cooking with it or drinking it. As you will see below in the recipe, I have adjusted the added salt content in the bread dough. Secondly, the water content of whey is around 93%, so hydration calculations should take this into account.
Being acidic whey will tighten the gluten which is great for breadmaking.
You can halve the ingredients for the cheese to make a smaller portion.
For the cheese –
2l (0.5gal) full fat milk
400g (14.1oz) sour cream
6 medium eggs (300g; 10.6oz)
30g (1oz) salt
10g (0.35oz) caraway seeds
For the bread –
270g (9.5oz) white bread flour
30g (1oz) whole wheat flour
2g (0.07oz) instant dry yeast or 2.4g (0.085oz) active dry yeast or 6g (0.21oz) fresh yeast
3g (0.1oz) salt
30g (1oz) linseeds or any seeds your prefer
245g (8.64oz) whey
Wheat bran or seeds to coat the loaf (optional).
- Make the cheese. Combine the milk, salt, and caraway in a large pan. Set on medium-high heat and let warm up to 90C (194F).
- Whisk the eggs and sour cream until smooth. Once the milk has reached the correct temperature pour the egg and sour cream mix into the milk gradually while mixing it continuously.
- Leave to simmer for 5 minutes mixing occasionally. The curds will be soft and loose at first. After a few minutes of cooking, they will harden and clump together.
- Strain the curd through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Reserve the whey.
- Press the curd using something heavy. Leave to cool down for a couple of hours. Transfer to the fridge to cool down completely.
- Make the bread. In a large bowl combine whey, yeast, salt, seeds, and whole wheat flour. Mix well. Add the white bread flour and mix to a dough.
- Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
- Fold #1.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- Fold #2.
- Cold ferment for 12 – 24 hours. When fermenting for longer I would suggest giving the dough an extra fold halfway though fermentation to keep it nice and tight.
- Shape into a loaf, moisten the surface, and roll it in wheat bran or seeds. Place in a breadbasket with the seam-side up.
- Final proof for 2 hours. Pre-heat the oven and the baking vessel to 250C (480F).
- Ivert the loaf on the pre-heated pan and score it. Spray with water (optional).
- Turn the oven down to 220C (430F). Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove the lid and bake for 10 more minutes.
Leave to cool down and then enjoy your bread with your homemade cheese!
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