I wasn’t really sure what to title this post. I know the term pot liquor but it’s not a term I grew up with. However, bean water just sounds weird. I dunno.
Let me back up.
Pot liquor (or pot likker, or potlikker) is the water that remains after cooking beans or greens. It’s a term mostly used in the South. It forms a flavorful base for soups.
We found ourselves with a little over three cups of bean water after Mr. Bread Maiden made a batch of beans for cassoulet. Since he was already making stew, there wasn’t much point in using the bean water to make another soup.
But what about using it for bread?
I recalled a recipe for potato water bread in Peter Reinhart’s book, which relied on the starchiness of the potatoes leaching into the water.
I put “bean water bread” and “bean pot liquor bread” in google but didn’t come across any recipes for how to use it, except a commenter on this thread who said it “might” work. Like me, he/she was familiar with Peter Reinhart’s potato water recipe.
Other recipes I found called for bean water AND beans, but I didn’t want to do that. Plus Mr. Bread Maiden had used all the beans.
I figured if it didn’t work, I would’ve thrown the water out anyway so it wasn’t a huge loss.
I used my usual 2/3 hydration loaf, as seen here. However, I did have to add extra bean water. The extra protein doesn’t dissolve into bread as easily as straight water.
You will need (for one loaf):
375g mix of AP flour and bread flour
250g of leftover bean water, maybe more
7g instant or active dry yeast
1. Weight out your flour in a large bowl. Add the salt and yeast to the flour and whisk thoroughly.
2. Weight out 250g of the bean water, keeping some on hand in case you need it. As you can see, it’ll be about one cup.
3. Pour the bean water into the bowl with the flour, salt and yeast.
4. Grip the bowl with your left hand. Using your right hand, vigorously stir to incorporate the dough. If it seems dry, add a splash more of your bean water. When it comes together easily, cover the dough with plastic wrap.
5. Here is where I feel sorry for people who insist on kneading their bread for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes of resting, take the plastic wrap off the bowl (don’t throw it away!) and gently fold the dough a couple of times. See? The dough is smooth and pliable like you just spent 15 minutes kneading it into submission, and you didn’t do a darn thing. Ok, now put the plastic wrap back on and let it rise another 2-3 hours, until it has doubled in size.
6. After it has doubled in size, punch it down ONCE (one punch to deflate it!) and then gently shape it into a ball. Transfer it to a sheet of parchment paper to rise a second time. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and slide your dutch oven inside the oven to heat up.
7. When the oven is ready, remove the plastic wrap and score the top of your loaf with a sharp knife.
8. Transfer the loaf on the parchment paper to the dutch oven and bake, covered, for about 25-30 minutes. Remove the dutch oven lid and bake another 10-15 minutes until the loaf is nicely browned and the top is solid when tapped.
This loaf has a very soft crumb, which I believe is due to the bean water.
I have been using it all weekend for sandwiches, french toast, and just spreading with butter and sprinkling with sea salt. There is no detectable “beany” taste.
So, Mr. or Ms. Commenter on that website: it can be done! You can successfully use leftover bean water in bread, and I plan to do it whenever I have bean water on hand. You should too!