Can You Bake with Whey Protein Powder?

Protein coffee powder
A scooper filled with whey protein next to a pile of whey protein. (Image: ogichobanov/iStock/Getty Images)

If you want the benefits that whey protein has to offer, but you're tired of smoothies, add it to baked goods to increase their protein content. Create protein-rich brownies, cookies and muffins, without having to shell out big bucks for the prepackaged, protein-enhanced versions. The only thing you'll need to do is adjust the ratio of other ingredients when baking with whey protein powder to prevent adverse changes in the texture of your final product.

Denaturing Debunked

When proteins are heated, their chemical structure changes. While this may affect the rate at which you digest whey and slightly alter its total protein content, it won't render whey protein dangerous or ineffective in boosting your total protein intake. Most protein powders are flash-pasteurized, meaning they are exposed to high heat to kill any dangerous microorganisms before being packaged and sold. According to the Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, most whey protein powder has been denatured to some degree during processing. Baking with it may further denature the protein powder somewhat, but it still offers benefits in terms of providing amino acids and increasing your protein intake.

Effect on Baked Goods

Commercial bakers include whey protein in some of their products to enhance browning and create a fine, even crumb. Whey protein can also extend the shelf life of certain products and improve the nutrition in terms of amino acid and mineral content. Add whey protein to homemade bars or brownies to make these nutritionally challenged treats healthier for you. When you add whey, though, you risk making your batter too sticky and ending up with a dried-out final product.

Recipe Adjustments

When you use whey powder, you need to decrease the cooking temperature or the cooking time slightly to prevent browning the crust too quickly. You can't substitute whey for all of the flour in a recipe, however -- you'll end up with a puck-like product that failed to rise. Instead, use it in place of just 2 to 3 percent of the flour content in a recipe. You may also need to increase the liquid content of the recipe slightly or add a bit more oil, applesauce or cottage cheese to make the finished product more moist.

Easy Additions

Whey protein powder mixes smoothly into forgiving batters, such as those for pancakes or boxed cake mixes. Add just a scoop or two to boost the protein content. A scoop is generally equal to about 1/3 cup and contains between 20 and 25 grams of protein. If you're making your own protein bars, you may be better off finding a recipe that's had all the ingredient ratios adjusted to accommodate the powder. If you're not ready to make a batter-based treat, try adding whey protein to cooled oatmeal, mixing it with peanut butter and rolling it into candy-like balls, or stirring it into pudding.

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