As you know, in the past few months I have been experimenting with homemade ricotta (ricotta fatta in casa). The most recent cheese I made is Stirred-curd Cheddar, according to recipe in the book Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll. I then proceeded to make ricotta with the leftover whey (siero di latte) and, though the result was not among my best, it was flavorful and creamy. I decided to use it to make something new: pane alla ricotta (ricotta bread), a recipe from the book Local Breads, by Daniel Leader, who says he obtained it from a Florentine baker. I like Local Breads a lot: it contains a nice selection of breads from different parts of Europe, each with background information and its own story. Christine of Christine Cooks introduced me to this book and I am very grateful that she did: it has become a trusted companion of some of my kitchen adventures.
I love making bread with interesting ingredients, like fresh herbs, olives, raisins, etc. I had the exact amount of ricotta to prepare one loaf (or half the original recipe, which makes two loaves). You can take a look at the recipe over at Andrea's Recipes. I used olive oil instead of butter and my homemade ricotta, which was not whole-milk, as it was made from whey (to which I added some milk, as described in my post).
Back to the bread, I loved the result: delicate is the keyword, describing both texture and flavor.
The interest about making bread with ricotta was kindled by a recipe for panini alla ricotta (ricotta rolls) that Francesca of francescav posted not long ago. Note that translating bread recipes between Italian and English requires translating the yeast quantity. In fact, in Italy we use lievito di birra, fresh yeast sold compressed in small cakes (25 g each) and available in the refrigerated section of grocery stores, rather than active dry yeast or instant yeast, the latter used by Daniel Leader in his recipes. I have never tried to make the conversion: there are rules on this page. However, as I read on this page, fresh yeast is sold in this country in cakes weighing 0.6 oz. or 2 oz. each, while 25 g correspond to 0.9 oz. I will come back to this topic after I have had a chance to do some testing.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the pane alla ricotta audio file [mp3].