The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Added too much wheat gluten to bread

healthylife's picture

Added too much wheat gluten to bread

I tried a new recipe for whole wheat bread, which used several different dough conditioners I'd not tried before.  I accidentally used 1.5 times as much vital wheat gluten as was called for in the recipe (8 T. to 8 c. flour - recipe called for 5 T.).  Just wondered if this is why the bread seems really chewy - kind of like it's more than 100% whole wheat!! ha ha   Just wondered if anyone had any input on this - several of my family members do not like whole grains, and so with any whole grain recipe I try, I am hoping for something that will "taste good enough" to try to substitute for less healthy fare (white bread, instant white rice, etc.) - which is why I bought the expensive dough conditioners in the first place!  I am hoping if I make this recipe again, it will come out better.  Input please?

BreadBro's picture

Consider using a proportion of white bread flour to whole wheat flour. Start with a 50/50 mix and slowly increase it as they become more used to the whole grain flavors. Peter Reinhart has an excellent book regarding whole wheat breads, which I highly reccomend. You can probably find it at your local library.

Personally, I choose not to use vital wheat gluten for the reason you've listed above. It tends to make the bread chewier, and lends some off-flavors which I dislike. I'm sure there's some people here who use it just find, and I'm sure they'll chime in too ;)

proth5's picture

I took on the challenge of developing bread machine formulas.  Now I'm in no way advocating that you use a bread machine or need a bread machine  - I'm just giving an example.

It seems that most folks who develop bread machine formulas say that vital wheat gluten is a must for getting good volume.  I didn't want to use it and so used a sourdough based pre ferment ( a portion of the flour given a long, slow, fermentation prior to mixing the final dough) and got good bread with good volume without vital wheat gluten. (The formula is in my blog - it's one of the more recent entries.)

The more I read on the production of vital wheat gluten, the less I like it.

If you want to buy Mr Reinhart's book - I am told it is excellent - it uses pre ferments and soakers to get good volume and flavor in whole wheat breads (very similar) to what I did with my formula.

I have fairly strong opinions on dough conditioners.  They really acheive nothing that pre ferments, patience, and good technique can acheive - without the expense.  I got a formula for decorative dough from a world famous baker that contained a dough conditioner (tells you something right there - he would use a dough conditioner because it helped make the dough easier to shape - but it was dough that was not intended to be eaten.) When asked how we might work around this, he said "Oh, you can just make a pre ferement..." 'Nuff said.

Many folks have posted whole wheat recipres on these pages, so use the search function to find them.  Many are well written and easy to follow.

Also - folks can be sensitive to the bitter taste of standard whole wheat flours.  If that is the case, you might wish to try white whole wheat flour.  This is made from wheat that does not have the gene that makes wheat red - it is lighter in color and does not have a bitterness to it.  Some folks say it bakes just like whote flour.  I find this to be a bit of an exaggeration, but it does make a lighter product with out that little hint of bitterness.

Hope this helps

healthylife's picture

... on vital wheat gluten, BreadBro and proth5.  I have never used it before; I have a certain whole wheat loaf recipe that has been tried and true, but I thought I would try this new one.  I grind my own wheat and use a Bosch mixer.  The other dough enhancers were lecithin (which I've successfully used before), citric acid, and ginger (of all things).  Other than chewy, I think the bread had a decent taste.  I love fresh ground wheat for bread; I think the bread tastes sweet and not bitter.  How interesting about the decorative dough, proth5 - I had no idea.  I will take a look at the idea of pre ferments, and at some of the other recipes.  Thanks for your help!

dabrownman's picture

really easy to do at home like I do all the time.   The first part of the process is just like making bread,  The process is totally natural and vegan in every way and is nothing more than separating the protein in wheat that you want to keep from the starch that is rinsed away by water and nothing more.

The process origin is probably Chinese and ancient, what isn't, and developed to provide a vegan protein for Buddhists who were strictly  vegan.  We call this 'mock meat' - seitan - something no vegan can live without and no vegan is going to eat anything that isn't completely natural in every way.   Another interesting thing about VWG is that there would be no Chinese noodles without it.  In Chinese, VWG is called miàn jīn;  , 'noodle tendon; because it is what gives the noodle its strength so it doesn't break when being stretched.

Here is how you make it:

Step 1. Start off with 2 pounds of whole wheat flour and make a 65% hydration dough out of it.   Knead it like you would any dough to develop the gluten.  When you can stick 2 fingers in it up to the first knuckle and the hole disappear by springing back immediately the bread making phase it over.

Step 2  Is very difficult.  Get a large bowl and put the dough in it and cover it with cold water and let the dough sit for 30 minutes.

Step 3  Begin to separate the bran and starch from the dough by gently kneading it under the water.  The water gets milky white.  This is the starch you want to get rid of.

Step 3 Dump the now pieces of dough and water into a colander,  Run cold water over the dough as you continue to knead it rinsing out the milky white starch and bran,  When there is no more milk you are done.

If you want to make a powder out of it, just spread it out thin in a dehydrator and grind it up in your coffee mill when it is dry.

I see know reason a totally natural and vegan ingredient made from whole wheat can't be used in any niumber of ways including bread to enhance gluten development when gluten is lacking or weak.  I use about 1/2 tsp per cup in a WW bread and a little more if making a multi grain bread with spelt, rye, corn, or other grains lacking gluten.  No sense making Frisbees.  8 tsp for 8 cups of WW flour is about twice what I would use since WW has gluten.  But VWG can be used in may other completely healthy ways.

I'm not sure where Pat heard bad things about making VWG but they are urban legend and have no basis in fact.  VWG is no different than the gluten in any wheat bread -period.

Happy  baking.

MarkS's picture

That is interesting!

I've heard that VWG does nothing for bread, and have experienced as much. If that is how it is made, then that explains why.

pepperhead212's picture


Here is an interesting video on gluten that CI did, that shows this method you decribe for washing the starch out of the dough, to more or less purify the gluten.  I tried this many years ago when I was experimenting with just about every method or ingredient in Chinese cooking, though I never used it to purify the gluten to dry and add to bread.  It tasted good, and was best when fried (go figure! Seems everything is...), and added to stir-fries, rather than used plain.




dabrownman's picture

I can see is that after making the dough I let the dough sit under cold water for 1/2 hour before starting the rinsing process that I start in that same bowl before moving to a colander.  But that is how easy it is to make.  I prefer my mock duck chowed Thai style.  It is delicious, non fat itself and full of protein.

You can also slow dry it in the oven at 150 F or less, like I do,  if you don't have a dehydrator. 

barryvabeach's picture

Going back to the original question,  i have not used VWG for a year or so, but have decided to try to use it over the next few weeks.  Reinhart says that it can make the bread chewy and rubbery and can add a scratchy taste, but not everybody feels that way  and many use it because it guarantees a higher rise and a lighter loaf.  ( p 113)  Another book I read No More Brics,  Succesful Whole Grain Bread Made Quick and Easy by Lori Viets says that the VWG doesn't make the bread rise higher, but lets it hold the height longer.  She suggests that VWG gives you a longer window of time to get it in the oven before it starts to fall.. One problem I have had is letting it overproof, especially very wet doughs like ciabatta, and as it hits the oven it doesn't rise and instead falls, and I am hoping small amounts of VWG will help. You might want to just try reducing the amount of VWG and see if it helps your recipe.  

healthylife's picture

... dabrownman and pepperhead21 for the interesting discussion.  barryvabeach, I suspected that the bread would have been better with less VWG.  I think I read somewhere that 1-2 t. for every cup of flour was a good ratio - so for 8 c. of flour, I could have used 2-2/3 T to 5-1/3 T VWG (and I used 8).  I'm sure next time will come out better.

dabrownman's picture

I use VWG is to up the gluten in low protein AP flour when using it to make bread.

Whole wheat has plenty enough gluten but its problem is that the bran cuts the gluten strands.  What I do when uising whole wheat is to autolyse it overnight for 8 hours before using it to soften the bran so it doesn't cut as many gluten strands and then usenone or maybe 5 g of VWG per 150 g of WW flour   If I am short of time and don't get in a good autolyse, that is when I add 5-10 g of VWG per 150 g of WW used.  You can also sift out the bran and just soak that for 8 hours and autioyse the white portion for and hour. 

If I have low protein white flour that I want to boost up to bread flour using VWG you have to check to see where you are starting from and where you want to end up.   If you have 3 g of protein per 30 g of flour that is 10% protein - about the average for grocery store AP.  If your AP weighs around 150 g per cup you have 15 g of protein in that amout but not all of it is gluten.   When you are adding straight VWG which is only 65% pure (a good average) adding 10 g per 150 g of flour gives you an additional 6.5 g of protein (all gluten)  so that would be 21.5 g of protein divided by the new weight of 160 g of flour or 13.44% protein with a high percent of it gluten.   That is decent gluten  protein and fairly strong bread flour.

When I can find it I like to buy LaFama AP flour on sale for 38 cents a pound in a 5 pound bag like I did last week.  It is 13.3% protein and no reason to boost it.

 But if I find some AP for 25 cents a pound that is low protien we can quickly make it plenty good enough for bread by adding VWG.  VWG costs a little less than penny a gram (store bought retail for the powder) so you will spend 30 cents a pound to really boost it up to high quality bread flour.  The new flour, even at  55 cents a pound,  is half the cost of KA AP and about the same price as store brand 50 cent a pound AP flour that is 10% protein. 

So, if you are on a budget, you can still make some fine bread flour out of AP using VWG as a boost.

Happy baking



sfp1's picture


I just made a loaf the other day...the recipe called for AP flour but I had a bag of KAF White Wheat that I wanted to use up so I used White Wheat instead. The dough was tough and didn't rise correctly.

I had some dough left so I tried adding about 1C water and 3/4 AP flour. Wow, what a difference. The second loaf rose beautifully and the taste was so much better, as well.

I happened to be going to an Artisan Bread class and the teacher confirmed that gluten can make a bread tough or chewy but adding more moisture will relax the dough and allow it to rise better. She also suggested using a combination of AP flour with whole wheat flour to get a better quality dough.

KAF says that whole wheat requires more moisture due to the higher content of gluten, as well.

Happy baking!

DavidEF's picture


In your case, I think it sounds like the problem was too much water absorption. To say it another way, there was not enough water in your bread. White Whole Wheat has more of both fiber and protein than AP, and both of those tend to absorb more water. Also, the fiber cuts the gluten, so long gluten strands that help create airy volume are hard to form. Next time, you can try using the autolyse method and also add a bit more water than the recipe calls for when switching from AP to WW flour. You may even want to try what dabrownman suggests above - autolyse overnight.

In the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book, Laurel says that one of the biggest mistakes people make when baking with whole grains is that they try to do it the same way they bake with refined flours. She insists that excellent whole grain bread can be made, but it must be done a bit differently, to work with the difference in the flour. Anyone who wishes to make a 100% whole grain bread would do well to look into that book, because that is the only kind of bread she writes about, and no added refined flour, or VWG is needed. She actually teaches about feeling the right hydration in the dough, watching the right developments happen, and letting the dough tell you when it's ready, rather than a recipe or a clock. That alone makes the book a worthy read.

sfp1's picture

Hi David,

Thanks for your reply. I remember someone else mentioniong Laurel's kitchen and want to look into it.

I've taken two classes at different places that both included making whole wheat bread. Both times I made a dough that I thought was good, and both times the teachers told me that my dough looked too moist! I followed the teacher's instruction the first time and the finished bread was a bit dry for my taste. Also, because I kept it moister, it flattened more than would have been ideal, but on the whole was a good enough first effort at whole wheat bread.

This second class, I followed guidance in this blog above about kneading the ww dough long enough. My second whole wheat bread came out looking pretty good. It was a different recipe than in the first class. It rose well, retained it's shape. I haven't tasted it yet, but got to taste that of a fellow classmate and it was pretty good.

I love reading these tips from those with experience. It's really helpful.