The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A Question Regarding Ricotta Cheese/Cottage Cheese in Sourdough Bread

txfarmer's picture

A Question Regarding Ricotta Cheese/Cottage Cheese in Sourdough Bread

I have been experimenting using sourdough to make lightly enriched sandwich breads. Went great until I tried to make a ricotta loaf. All white flour, a little butter/sugar/milk, quite a bit of ricotta cheese, 19% of the flour was in the sourdough levain, knead well to pass windowpane test, bulk rise for 2 hours then fridge overnight, take out, divide, shape and proof (base on this formula, changed instant yeast to sourdough). The same procedure worked like a charm for other similar breads(such as this one here), but this ricotta loaf just won't rise much in the oven. If I persist and leave it proof longer, the dough even tears. It seems to me that the dough's gluten was too weak to support the rise - in another word, something in ricotta seems to be weakening the dough strength.


After sucessfully making the 100% ww sourdough loaf (here), I tried to duplicate the process with another formula from Laurel's Kitchen Bread book. This one has a lot of cottage cheese. Knead well, 15% flour in levain, bulk rise for 2 hours, fridge overnight, take out, divide, proof, bake. The same thing as the ricotta loaf: no oven spring, sad volume. The dough didn't tear, but it had no oomph to rise anymore.


Now, both the ricotta loaf (with white flour, from "bread bilble") and the cottage cheese ww loaf works well with instant yeast, but fails with my sourdough process. What's the reason? I have vague ideas: cottage cheese is pretty acidic, it might weaken the dough over the extra long fermentation? Especially when I increase the acidity of the dough with sourdough levain? Not clear on the acidity of ricotta cheese, is it pretty acidic too? Does ricotta/cottage cheese also make fermentation go faster? The dough doesn't seem to be over-risen out of the fridge, but then it may just be that it's stiff from the low temp? More importantly, how do I deal with this issue? Shorten the process to one bulk rise + proof to shorten the overall time? Add some baking soda? Any ideas/theories/advices would be appreciated!

LindyD's picture

I wonder if the added strength of high-gluten flour would be of help, txfarmer.

As to the acidity of ricotta, I've read at some sites that it's recommended as antiacid for those suffering from acid reflux.  Cottage cheese is acidic.

Interesting questions you've asked.

wally's picture

Ricotta is fairly alkaline and this can negatively affect yeast fermentation.  I don't know if that's the cause of your problem or not, but it is a candidate for consideration.


breadsong's picture

Hello Larry and txfarmer, (I hesitate to write because I don't know anything at all about the subject at hand!)

Larry, your comment reminded me of a recent post I'd seen regarding the pH of dough; I include the link here, in case you did not see the post:

(I thought this post was interesting as I had never considered acidity or pH of dough/ingredients before when baking - as txfarmer is with her query).

I wonder, if cottage cheese is acidic and ricotta is alkaline, if you could use some of each ingredient to balance pH and see how that might work?

txfarmer, I hope you find the answers to your questions and find success with your new version of sourdough!

Regards, breadsong