The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Making a soft loaf - Techniques

ibower83's picture

Making a soft loaf - Techniques

I have been baking my own bread for a while now, recently I have been trying to bake my own bread exclusively. For sandwiches and so on..


here is what I put in it


AP Flour

Whole wheat flour



Flax seed

sunflower seed



wheat germ


the water and honey represent 66% Of the flour - its a fairly wet bread.


every single time I have made this bread, it has a medium (slightly airy) tough crumb. Its delicious, but its not soft...


ONE time, i made this bread, the exact same recipe i've always made - and it came out perfectly soft, delicious and exactly how i wanted it.


So this tells me it has to be something in the technique. Anyone have any ideas? My suspicion is that if I knead it more, it will give me what I want.


Thanks for any responses I get.

clazar123's picture

I make all our weekly bread-a whole wheat sandwich bread and I find that recipe can soften but technique is important.


 I use milk or kefir as part of the liquid

A few tablespoons oil per loaf helps

About 1/4 of the flour is a soft whole wheat (pastry flour)


I often mix my dough in the evening and put it in the refrigerator overnight.It usually raises double,even being in the refrigerator, and I shape,proof and bake the next day.


PaddyL's picture

...will give you a nice soft loaf.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

you delayed addition of the salt?  Forgot it and added it later on?  Or got a telephone call or interruption while combining ingredients?  (which is most likely)  In what order do you add the ingredients together?  A change in the order might be the difference.

It could also be that you added the flour slowly, stirring it in well before half was added (then interrupted) this helps build a silky structure, then seeds, bran and salt at the end.  Seeds and bran tend to draw water away from the gluten forming flour if added too soon.  So if you combine all the dry ingredients together, mix, and then add water, that will also affect the dough.   Bran is known for cutting gluten strands, making for less stretch in the dough.  If the flax if ground, it will also absorb more liquid competing with the flour for water drawing it away from the dough.  So there are a few possibilities of what might have happened.  If you presoaked any of the non-flour ingredients (and this could include washing dust or salt off seeds and draining) that might have also been the difference. 

Plenty of room for experimenting one difference at a time without changing any of the ingredients.  Keep notes on what you do.


ibower83's picture



Thanks for all of the responses. Let me clarify what I do a little bit.

I add all of my dry ingredients (except salt) The flax is whole.

then I add all of my wet ingredients (including the starter - my own sourdough starter)

I mix until everything is combined, then I add the salt and Knead on kitchaid speed 4 for 7 minutes (timed)

Then I turn the dough in olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and form it into a bowl, I press it into the bottom of the kitchaid bowl and let it sit covered on my counter top overnight.


The next morning it has doubled or tripled in volume, I press it down, shape it and put it in a sprayed loaf pan and let it rise another four hours before slashing and baking without steam. I bake at 350 until the internal is around 205 degrees.

and thats it in a nut shell! I dont want to add milk or any dairy to the recipe (if i can accomplish what I want without it)


I will try some of the other suggestions here - including adding the flour in two additions. I am also going to try extending the kneading time.


We'll see! I'll keep you posted

davidbweiner's picture

I think you're right. Kneading the dough more will develop the gluten and give your bread more structure. The whole wheat flour, various seeds and the oil in your recipe all work to shorten the gluten strands in your bread. Therefore you need (no pun intended) to work the dough more to compensate.

Hope this helps,


jlewis30's picture

I have been trying to get a nice soft whole wheat loaf for a long time. This loaf pretty much did it for me, and the next day at the grocery store my sons said no to store bought sliced bread "We want that bread you made." Oh dear...

I started with two cups of warm water and about a cup of sourdough starter whisked together. I whisked in 1/4c of honey and 1/4 cup of sour cream and added a cup of whole oats. To this mixture I added stone ground whole wheat flour until I had a wet dough. I covered the bowl and went to see Inception (was good, but a little hectic for my taste). We were gone for about 3 hours, generally I soak overnight but it is wicked hot out right now and everything goes faster so I targeted one day (enriched loaf as well, lots of sweets)

When we got home my little soak had doubled in size (bliss, I am having trouble trusting my wild yeast). I scraped the sides of the bowl and added 1 can of evaporated milk, 1/2 stick melted butter, and 2 T brown sugar. Then GASP (shame on me) 1 teaspoon of commercial yeast (my trust issues with wild yeast are bugging me, will work on it). I mix all this together to make a big bowl of glop, to the glop I add appx 3 cups of bread flour and a tablespoon of salt and get it all mixed together. I knead the dough in the bowl adding flour until I get a nice smooth (but high hydration) dough. Then I turn the dough out on my bread board, divide in two, and knead each smaller ball for about five minutes. I return the dough to two bowls and cover, stretch and fold after an hour (do this twice), then shape four loaves in the pan for the final proof. When the loaf has doubled, I score the top and bake at 450 for 15 minutes then at 350 until done (hollow tap). I use intermittent steam (4 oz of water tossed on the oven floor a couple times lol).

I think the relatively high fat content and oats in the dough help make the moist and tender crumb, as well as the soft crust. I wish we had smell-o-vision because this loaf was fragrant and flavorful. Please pardon the rough communication of the formula, I am still fussing with it and have not "written it up".


breadmantalking's picture

I wonder if you thought of using  soy milk instead of regular milk to kep the bread non-dairy. I'm not sure it would change the overall structure/texture but would be acceptable to people with dairy problems. I am definitely going to try this loaf. Thanks!

jlewis30's picture

For this recipe I would go almond milk over soy, but that is just personal taste thing - I am not fond of soy milk. I do not drink milk ever, I do not even eat cereal because the milk makes me ill, but I have no issues when it is an ingredient in cooked things.

That said I have used three dairy items; milk, sour cream and butter. I think to get the dairy totally out I would start over with the formula. I have used recipes with canola oil rather than butter for fat, and the milk is easy to sub out for other liquids. I suppose you could go yogurt over sour cream (wait, that is still dairy huh). Honestly I don't think the sour cream added much =P I just like to use it.

We made french toast out of one loaf this morning, it was very yum =)

breadmantalking's picture

Actually I've never used almond milk. Does it have an after tasts of almonds? I know that sounds like a silly questin, but if it does, then it would make the bread more like a 'breakfast' or 'brunch'-type bread (maybe a little cakey). Still delicious but definitely something not quite bread. (Or maybe like a quick bread). I'm thinking to myself as I write.

David at: