The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


jade's picture


So I have just finished baking my 3rd ever loaf and its so dense i cant even believe it! it rose but its so heavy. I have done some research and i have found that if i add a couple of tbsp of vital wheat gluten this will help this problem? Is there any other things i can add to my ingredients other than this that will lift my dough and give me a better loaf? I would prefer to keep it 100% wholemeal.

The ingredients I'm using are -

500g Wholemeal flour (very strong)

350ml of warm water

1tsp dried active yeast

1tsp of salt

tsp of sugar/honey.

I knead for 10 minutes - let the dough rise - then knead for another five - shape and rise for 30 mins before cooking in oven at 190 for 30 minutes.

Some help would be MUCHLY appreciated.

Thank you


dabrownman's picture

at 70% hydration is very low.  If I grind my own flour I will be at 91-100% hydration but If i use store bought whole wheat I will be at 81-85% hydation.  Improper hydration on the low side makes for dense bricks.  Make sure to autolyse wholegrains for at least 4 hours and 8 hours in the fridge is better.  Make sure ypou are developing the gluten properly

If you are using very strong WW then you probably don't need any VWG  but all the store bought ones I can find need it at about 15 g per loaf or 1 tsp per cup of flour.

That is where I would start.  i'm guessing your next loaf will be much better.

Happy baking

clazar123's picture

In order to produce a soft, non-crumbly and delicious whole wheat loaf,the process is almost more important than the ingredients.

Welcome to The Fresh Loaf! There is a tremendous amount of information on this site and the Search Box will be very helpful to you because there is not just one simple answer to your plea for help. Enter  variations of "fluffy whole wheat" and "soft whole wheat" in the box and see what pops-a LOT.

The main idea will be to build in some form of a sitting period to allow the wheat and all the lovely bran to absorb the  water into itself. It takes a while for that to happen and there are many ways to build this soak into the process-an autolyse, a sponge, a retardation (usually in the refrigerator), a preferment of some kind or simply holding the dough for  30 minutes after mixing. Also, with whole wheat, add a little extra water at the start so the dough seems wetter than typical bread. At the end of the sitting period, after the water has absorbed into the bran, it will seem the normal tackiness.

After it has absorbed, the other important concept is to knead or stretch and fold the dough until a windowpane effect is achieved. What you are doing is to hydrate the starch in the flour and this allows the gases produced by the yeast to be captured and held (like a balloon) so they can expand and rise.

I don't add vital wheat gluten as I find it imparts a chewiness I don't care for. Most whole wheat flours have plenty of gluten present to do the job. It is usually that a very fast process is used to  get the loaf done and then the gluten and starch are not hydrated or developed enough to use.

A wholemeal loaf will be denser than a loaf made with AP or bread flour but it can be soft and delicious and not at all crumbly. If you want a really soft loaf-take a look at this WW beauty: