Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Water Bath and Whey

This is the last full week of posts for the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Last year, participants dropped like flies on a cold summer day. But this year, there are more than 2000 bloggers still participating. If you haven’t checked in to find some new sites, you should before it all goes away next week. Let’s get to the last Saturday post for this year’s challenge.

W is for Water Bath.
You might be asking, “Aren’t all baths water?”  And why are we concerned with ablutions while cooking? Well, silly, of course, water bath is a cooking method.

Some foods bake best with direct heat, either broiling or roasting or baking, but some are more delicate and need a moist heat for even cooking.

Apparently, alchemists are credited with the creation of the water bath method to control cooking temperature and moisture. Who knows what was in their little pots, but today we use the bain marie (Mary’s bath) or water bath to cook flan and other custards, cheesecake, and pudding.

The moisture helps keep cheesecakes from cracking and flan from getting rubbery. The water bath also helps ensure a more even baking temperature than the oven alone.

To use a water bath, place your baking dish into a larger pan, pour boiling water into the larger pan halfway up the side of the baking dish. Then bake as directed. Some water evaporates, but some remains so be careful in removing the pan from the oven.

W is for whey (WAY)
Whey, you know, like in “Little Miss Muffet.” What does that nursery rhyme tell you about whey?

Well, whey is something to eat while sitting on a tuffet. (Huh? What’s a tuffet?) Whey is compatible to eat with curds (more on that later). But, umm, not much else, right?

Another name for whey is milk serum. Whey is the fluid left after removing the casein and fat from milk. There is sweet whey (a by-product of making hard cheeses like cheddar and swiss) and acid whey/sour whey (a by-product of making cottage cheese or yogurt).

So Miss Muffet was eating a bowl (because it was liquid-y, she’d need a spoon) of curds (the solid parts of curdled--see the connection?--milk containing the casein and fat) and her whey. You could compare it to cottage cheese. Clearly, Miss Muffet was not a picky eater.

And that tuffet? It’s a small clump of grass, sturdy enough, I guess to hold a little girl and her bowl of curds and whey.


  1. Wow! Still 2,000 participating? That's amazing. Every year the group grows and grows.
    You've had some very interesting - and usual - words for your selections!
    Trisha Faye

    1. I know, Trisha. People are sticking it out in greater numbers, too. Maybe they are better prepared for the rigors of the challenge this year. I know I am. Thanks for coming by. This series has been great fun to do!

  2. You make me smarter and make me laugh all at the same time. I love that you know this stuff and are willing to share. I was pretty sure a tuffet was a stool with little tufts of fabric and a water bath was what you dumped Epsom Salts into. See what I mean? Thanks. (And for the record, I like cottage cheese.)

    1. LOL Sandy! Actually, these days a tuffet is a stool. I'm sure the grass clump gave someone the idea that you could design a small stool for the purpose of perching. I do love doing this series! Next year, you're in, right? (I like cottage cheese, too.)

    2. A tuffet actually did morph into a stool? Imagine that. I'll start a file on alphabet ideas, and if it works, I'm in for next year. (Does that sound like a politician's answer? Yikes!) Oh Sharon, you're so good to always push me to the next spot. Yes, I'm in for next year.

    3. Absolutely! Get a couple of categories and see which one you can fill up first! I have a few lined up as possibilities I am already working on.

  3. Sharon, I'm going to miss your a-z posts, I've learned so much! (

    1. Thanks so much for that, Corinne. I do post info pieces occasionally throughout the year, so check back and see what I'm up to. Coming up in early summer will be a post on cornmeal, grits, and polenta--how they're alike and how they're different.