The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Oatmeal Wheat Bread too flat and dense/ Vital Wheat Gluten?

vanessabrown8712's picture

Oatmeal Wheat Bread too flat and dense/ Vital Wheat Gluten?

I started making wheat bread for my family to start eating healthier but all the batches of my bread loaves are dense and flat! I have vital wheat gluten but I don't know how much I should add? Also could I add eggs to make my bread softer, if so, how many?

This is my recipe.

2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup shortening or butter
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup honey
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon instant yeast

pmccool's picture

Yes, one of the ingredients, the rolled oats, is a factor, since oats have no gluten, but not to worry.  You don't say whether you pour the boiling water over the oats and allow them to absorb the water as they cool down, or whether you fully cook the oats before cooling them.  I suspect the former, from the way ingredient list is worded.  Overall, probably not a lot of difference in the finished bread.

Since you are making a bread that contains a substantial proportion of whole wheat flour, plus the oats, the issue becomes one of fully developing the dough.  In other words, knead it for a long time; say 25 minutes by hand.  Yes, the oats will make the dough gooey; don't throw more flour at it to make the stickiness go away.  That will just make your bread heavier.  Yes, your arms will complain.  Cover the dough with plastic or a bowl so that it doesn't dry out and take a few minutes break.  Then go back at it. 

As an additional help, you could stir the whole wheat flour in with the oats when the oats are thoroughly hydrated.  A 30-60 minute rest after stirring in the whole wheat will go a long ways toward moistening and softening the bran, which will make the finished bread softer and lighter in texture, with less crumbliness.

Even after all of that, this will be a hefty loaf when compared to a white bread brother.  The oats, especially, and the whole wheat flour to a lesser extent both contribute to a heavier texture.

Adding vital wheat gluten isn't really necessary.  It will contribute more to a feeling of toughness in the bread than it will to lightness.  If you like that, go for it.  Be prepared to add some more water to the dough if you do.  You could also use bread flour in place of the AP flour to get a slight increase in dough strength.  Again, be prepared to add more water.

Sounds like a really good bread.


PaddyL's picture

It may help with the rise, and an egg wouldn't hurt.  Or you could use buttermilk, either powder or liquid, to make the finished bread softer.  I do agree with PMcCool about not giving in and adding extra flour as an oatmeal dough is going to be stickier than any other dough.  I've found that oatmeal bread is much lighter than I ever would have imagined; maybe you could use less ww flour and more white.

Antilope's picture

 by Baker's percent.
The total flour weight used is considered 100%. All other ingredients used are expressed in a percentage of the weight of the flour. The oats absorb a lot of water and in this case I am adding it to the flour category.
oatmeal wheat bread
Baker's Percent
57.3%.....456g...3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
30.2%.....240g...2 cups whole wheat flour
12.5%......99g....1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
100% 795g Total Flour etc.
7.5%........60g....1/2 cup nonfat dry milk.
74.6%....593g....2 1/2 cups boiling water
7.2%........57g....1/4 cup shortening or butter
21%.......170g....1/2 cup honey
2.25%......18g....1 tablespoon salt
1.5%.......12.5g..1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon instant yeast
You are using all purpose flour in this recipe. If you are using Gold Medal all purpose flour, or a store brand of all purpose flour, it may not have enough gluten (usually they have about 10% protein/gluten). If you are using King Arthur all purpose flour, it has more gluten (11.7% protein/gluten). You could also use Bread flour instead to add more gluten to the recipe (usually 12% to 13% protein/gluten). You could also add vital wheat gluten, at the rate of 1 Tbsp per cup of flour used.
Looking at the baker's percentages of the ingredients used, the shortening is okay at 7.5%, that's about average use. The yeast is okay at 1.5% (1% to 1.5% is usually used.).
The salt is probably okay, but maybe slightly high at 2.25%. It might slow the yeast a little more than average (1.5% to 2% is usually used).
Now we come to sugars (honey). You are using 21% honey. When over 12% sugar is used in a yeast bread recipe, it robs moisture from the yeast and can cause rising problems. Slow rise or dense loaf.
I would cut the salt slightly, to 2 1/2 teaspoons, that's 15 grams or 2%. (This is for table salt. Kosher salt, by volume would be a little more than 2 1/2 teaspoons). Also, don't allow the dry salt to come in contact with the dry yeast. That can damage of kill the yeast.
I would cut the honey down to 12%, which is 95g or 4.5 Tbsp.
Changing these recipe ingredient amounts would allow the yeast to rise more, making a less dense loaf.
Also, make sure the ingredients in the boiling water cool to lukewarm before adding the yeast. If it's too hot it can damage of kill the yeast.
I used the following website to obtain ingredient weights from their volume measurements:
Your recipe is similar to the King Arthur Flour - Vermont Whole Wheat Oatmeal Honey Bread. Here's a link to that recipe:

Antilope's picture

Oatmeal Honey bread for the first time today. I followed the recipe except I used more yeast (2 1/4 tsp of yeast for one loaf) and I also added a Tangzhong water roux. Even with those two changes, it is still not a real light bread. I think this is caused by adding the oats soaked in the hot water. When I make a very similar loaf, but it doesn't include the oats, it is really light. So the oats appear to be the cause of the somewhat dense loaf.  It is closer to a 100% whole wheat loaf in density than to a light wheat loaf (half bread flour and half whole wheat flour).

Antilope's picture

a higher percentage of whole wheat flour (50%) vs the original recipe above that has 37%. It is really light, almost as light as white bread.  Below is the recipe and a picture of the finished loaf:

I used the stretch and fold technique on 65% hydration light wheat bread (half bread flour & half whole wheat flour).

It came out as good as when I make the recipe from kneaded dough. I adapted the Panama bread stretch & fold recipe that is on I also made a Tangzhong roux from the 1/2 cup of water and 3 Tbsp of bread flour, which I always do to this recipe when making the kneaded version.

Here's a link to a YouTube video showing the Stretch & Fold technique I used on the firm bread dough:
Panama bread's first stretch and fold
Panama Bread's Second Stretch and Fold
Panama Bread Third Stretch and Fold


Here's the recipe I used:

No-Knead Stretch-N-Fold Honey Wheat Bread

This makes a delicious loaf of bread with very little effort.

Makes a 1-1/2 lb sandwich loaf of Honey Wheat Bread without kneading. 
No mixer, bread machine or hand kneading required.

You just need a wooden spoon and a couple of mixing bowls along with a loaf pan.

This recipe uses a series of stretch and fold techniques on regular firm dough to replace kneading. The bread is baked in a regular loaf pan.

Total time, about 4 hours, mostly rising and waiting. Actual hands on work, about 15 minutes.


1 3/4 cups (225 g) Whole Wheat Flour
1 2/3 cups (225 g) Bread Flour
4 Tbsp (30 g) Wheat Germ, raw or toasted

2/3 cup (160 g) Milk, lukewarm
1/2 cup (120 g) Water, lukewarm (used in Tangzhong roux with 3 Tbsp bread flour)
1 Egg (50 g), beaten (or 1/4 cup Eggbeaters egg substitute)
2 Tbsp (40 g) Honey or Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp (15 g) Ovaltine Classic Malt Powder (do not use chocolate flavor) - optional
2 Tbsp (15 g) Non-Fat Dry Milk or Dry Coffee Creamer
1 1/4 tsp (9 g) Table Salt
2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet (7 g) Instant or Active Dry Yeast
3 Tbsp (45 g) Butter, softened


In a large mixing bowl, stir together the Whole Wheat Flour, Bread Floor and Wheat Germ. Mix well.

In a smaller bowl, mix in the milk, water (or cooled Tangzhong roux), beaten egg, honey, Ovaltine, non-fat milk powder, table salt and yeast. Mix well. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Stir the mixed liquid into the flour mixture. Mix until the flour is completely moistened. Mix in the softened butter. Add enough additional water or flour as needed to form a slightly sticky, firm, ball of dough. Mix well until everything is evenly incorporated.

Form dough into a ball, place in covered bowl and let rest for 45 minutes.

Remove dough from bowl, do the first of three stretch and folds on the bread board.

Stretch and Fold Technique:
-Press and stretch the dough into a 12 by 9 inch rectangle. Dust lightly with flour, as needed.
-Take the top (12-inch) edge of the dough and fold it down to the middle. Press dough flat. 
-Take the bottom (12-inch) edge of the dough and fold up to the top edge. Press dough flat. 
-Take the right edge of the dough and fold it over to the middle. Press dough flat.
-Take the left edge of the dough and fold it over to the right edge. Press flat.
-Return dough square to the bowl and cover. Rest 45 minutes.

Remove dough from bowl, do the 2nd stretch and fold on the bread board and return the dough to the covered bowl for another 45 minutes.

Remove dough from bowl, do the 3rd stretch and fold on the bread board and return the dough to the covered bowl for another 45 minutes.

Remove dough from bowl, form loaf by rolling or pressing dough out into a 10 x 10 inch rectangle. Roll dough into a sausage shape. Pinch seam closed along length of dough. Rotate loaf to place seam on bottom. Flatten about 1 inch on each end of roll and fold under loaf.

Place formed dough in loaf pan, seam side down. Use an 8 x 4-inch or 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in warm place until doubled and it has risen about 1-inch over the edge of the loaf pan, about 60 minutes. Remove plastic wrap.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350-F degrees for 45 minutes, until done, or until center of loaf reaches 195-F on a digital probe thermometer.

Remove from loaf pan and allow to cool before slicing.

Makes one 1-1/2 lb loaf of bread.