The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How can I make these rolls less dense...

maxamilliankolbe's picture

How can I make these rolls less dense...

I made these rolls for this past Thanksgiving and they were delicious. They were a little too dense, however. No, I take that back; the were super dense. Posted below is the recipe and the picture, though its not my picture. Thanks in advance if anyone has some ideas.



Photobucket You need:


  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup water, lukewarm
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp fine cane sugar
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 4.5 oz walnuts, toasted
  • 2 oz dry cranberries


  • To toast the nuts, preheat your oven at 400 F.
  • Place them on a baking sheet and toast for 10 mns.
  • Remove to let them cool and chop coarsely.
  • Sprinkle the yeast on top of 4 Tbsp lukewarm water and leave to froth for 5 mns.
  • In a bowl, place the flour. Add the salt and sugar and mix together.
  • Add the butter cut in pieces and mix.
  • Make a well in the middle and pour the yeast. Mix with the tip of your fingers.
  • Slowly add the rest of the water. Knead the dough with the palm of your hand until it is elastic and forms a ball.
  • Cover and let rise in a warm part of the house, until it doubles in size.
  • Add the nuts and cranberries and knead the dough again.
  • Form small bread rolls (about 8 or 10, depending on the size, they will rise). Place them on a baking sheet and cover again to let rise for 30 mns.
  • Preheat your oven at 410 F.
  • Brush the rolls with some water and place in the oven for 20 mns or so. The rolls are ready when they have a nice golden color and sound hollow when tapped with your finger.
  • Remove and let them cool on a cooling rack.
jonquil's picture

Sounds like a yummy recipe, but the rises are short.  In a rich dough (like brioche, tho this one is not as rich) you need more time on the 2nd rise, or cool down the rises (fridge or garage), because with the new experience I've been having with whole wheat, the longer it's wetted, the better. The crumb sticks together.

Since you are cutting the butter into the flour, keeping the dough cool could prevent the butter from inhibiting the process (see Reinhardt's new book). 

Also, oven may be too hot for soft rolls. If you heat the crust too fast, you retard oven spring.

Those ideas come to mind.  I would like to see what others say about your rolls. 


rideold's picture

I think the rise times may be part of it.  Try basing your rise times on the feel of the dough rather than the timer.  Or, rise in a warmer environment.  Whichever works better for your schedule.  Try splitting your next batch half and let one batch proof longer after forming the rolls and see which one is better once out of the oven.

maxamilliankolbe's picture

You all are so smart!  Thanks for the tip.  I'll eventually get the hang of figuring out the science behind baking.  I am trying to read all I can on it.  I was going to say that I'll try making these again today, tomorrow, or the following day, until I realized I have about a dozen things I want to attempt, as well as about another dozen recipes I want to tweak.  Woah, system overload!  Hopefully it won't be next Thanksgiving by the time I get around to them!

holds99's picture

For what it's worth. Without seeing your dough it sounds like it may be too dry. If I'm reading your recipe correctly, the water to flour ratio is 33% (1 cup of water to 3 cups of flour).  You might try adding approximately 7% more water for a wetter dough, like 40% water (1.2 cups instead of 1 cup as indicated in your recipe). Remember the rule, "wetter is better".  You can always add flour if it too wet but adding water after the initial mix is done... well... it's difficult.  Also you may want to try scoring the top of each roll with a couple of 1/4-1/2 inch deep angled slashes to allow for more expansion during the intial 8-10 minutes of baking when the oven spring takes place.  Use a sharp double or singel edge razor blade to avoid tearing the dough while scoring.  Finally, make sure the rolls have at least doubled in bulk before scoring and putting them into the oven.

Ramona's picture

Holds99 might have a good answer.   I agree that you might not have enough hydration.  How about adding some buttermilk or some milk with a little vinegar with it?  This really helps with the texture.  A tastier and lighter result.  Even letting it sit in your refrigerator for a couple of days, really helps with the flavor.  Just a thought from an amateur.