Fresh Ricotta and Whole Wheat and Flaxseed Rolls (with the whey!)

Fresh Ricotta and Whole Wheat and Flaxseed Rolls

Fresh Ricotta (or Paneer) cheese is so easy to make. The challenge is to find a good use for the leftover whey. About a year ago I started to use the whey for making bread and it is now a routine. The whey is not a "leftover" any more, but part of the process since I generally make them at the same time. Sometimes we save the ricotta for pizza, pasta or kale paneer, and sometimes we smear it on the freshly baked rolls and call it a meal. Either way, it is a delicious way to spend an afternoon. The bread recipe makes enough to last us for two weeks if we pop most of it into the freezer right away.

Start with the cheese:

Ricotta (or Paneer)

1/2 gallon whole milk- (non-homogenized if you can get it)
1 cup plain yogurt (optional, but adds flavour)
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp salt

Heat the milk up, stirring, until it just starts to bubble. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the salt, yogurt, and lemon juice.

After a few minutes, large curds will form. As soon as it is cool enough to touch, strain the contents of your pot through a clean tea towel or handkerchief, (not a terry towel,) saving the whey for later. Gather up the corners of the cloth into a bag and gently squeeze out more of the whey. Either secure the end of a pouch with an elastic or tie a knot through the ends, and hang the bag over the pot with a wooden spoon. After ten minutes of dripping, you will have a delicious, lemon ricotta.

To make paneer, twist the bag again to squeeze out more of the whey, then place it between two plates to compress. You won't be able to reshape it once it is hardened, so flatten it out an smooth the edges while it is still warm. Place a can over the top plate for weight, then stick it in the fridge for an hour to harden. Take it out of the tea towel an store in an airtight container.

As soon as you strain the curds out of the whey, start making the bread:

Whole Wheat and Flaxseed Rolls (five dozen)

whey from one recipe of ricotta
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp salt (or lite salt)
1 cup flaxseed meal
2 tbsp active dry yeast

10-12 cups whole wheat flour
4-6 cups unbleached white flour
olive oil

Stir in the sugar, olive oil, salt, and flaxseed meal into the whey. As soon as it cools to lukewarm, add the yeast and stir well. Let the mixture rest for ten minutes. Stir in as much whole wheat flour as you can. I usually add twelve cups all at once, stir it in and add a couple more. When you have a ball that can be scraped away from the sides of the bowl, dump it all onto your table. Knead until smooth, adding a cup of unbleached white flour at a time, at least eight minutes.

Pour a couple tablespoons of oil onto a large bowl. Spin the dough ball around in the oil to coat it then flip it over, oiled side up. Allow to rise until doubled, covered with a clean cloth if you like, for about an hour and a half. Punch it down, then let it rise until doubled again, about an hour.

Punch the dough down and divide it into five portions, and lightly coat each with a touch of olive oil. Take the first, form it into a dozen rolls, and place the rolls on a baking sheet that has a light spray of olive oil. After about eighteen minutes, form the second dozen, and so forth. (Punch down the undivided portions as well. )When the third dozen is formed, the first should have doubled and be ready to bake.

Bake at 365F for 18 minutes for each dozen. As soon as it is cool enough, put the rolls that you intend to freeze into ziplocks. You can use a straw to suck the air out of the ziplocks for a better seal.

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