The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

High fiber breads

gardenmama's picture

High fiber breads

I just started back with Weight Watchers, and for bread you can eat more if it has at least 3 grams of fiber per slice. I've modified my wheat bread recipe by replacing 1/2 cup of the wheat flour with 1/2 cup of wheat bran, to come out with 3 grams of fiber per slice. But it doesn't rise nearly as much as it used to. I've tried adding additional gluten and just letting it rise longer, but neither has made much difference. Anyone have any other suggestions?

And does anyone know of any recipes for high fiber breads? I hate to be forced to buy them at the grocery store just because I'm on a weight loss plan, when I'm perfectly capable of making my own bread!

timtune's picture

Mebbe you could try the addition of psylium husks together with wheat bran?
Oh! and not forgetting some soluble fibers from oat bran ;)

gardenmama's picture

I have another version to make a high fiber oat bread, but it's even denser than the wheat version with oat bran and rolled oats. I'd love to know how commercial high fiber bread comes out so nicely risen.

timtune's picture

i'm not sure about this, because i haven't tried it, but maybe you could get better results by adding some vital wheat gluten and other additives like a dough softener?

gardenmama's picture

Yes. I said in my post that I put in additional gluten. I guess I didn't say "vital wheat gluten" but that's what it is.

What is a dough softener?

Teresa_in_nc's picture

Tim is correct in his suggestion to add vital wheat gluten and the dough enhancer. I regularly use the VWG in my pizza dough to increase the gluten ratio and obtain a more flexible, stretchable dough. You can find these two products in gourmet food stores and health/natural food stores or perhaps a Whole Foods Market.

This weekend I made a grain-filled sourdough bread by the addition of 5/8 cup of Bob's Red Mill 8 Grain Cereal to a grain bread recipe that called for 1 cup sourdough starter, white flour and whole wheat flour. It rose very nicely and is quite light.

Here is the recipe:

Dee's Grainy Sourdough Bread

2 1/4 t. instant yeast
2 t. sugar
1/2 cup warm water

1 1/2 cups hot water
2-3 t. salt (I prefer the larger amount)
2 TB honey
2 TB molasses
1/4 cup butter
1/8 cup flax seed
1/8 cup millet
1/8 cup cracked wheat
1/8 cup buckwheat
1/8 cup oat groats
5/8 cup 7, 8, 9, or 10 grain cereal such as Bob's Red Mill
1 cup sourdough starter
3 cups whole wheat flour
3-5 cups bread flour (3-4 was plenty the two times I've made this recipe)
1 egg
1 TB water
poppy or sesame seeds (I leave out the egg wash and seeds)

Proof the yeast. Put the next 10 ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. Let sit to cool. When cool, stir in the starter and whole wheat flour. Beat well.

Add the bread flour a cup at a time until the dough comes away from the side of the bowl. Knead for 10 minutes on a floured board. (I mixed and kneaded 5-8 minutes in my Kitchen Aid mixer.) Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled. Punch down and form into 3 balls. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Form into oblong free-form loaves and place on greased cookie sheets or parchment paper covered sheets. Brush with egg and sprinkle with seeds. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-0 minutes.

Source: Diane Henderson on the

I made four balls and put two balls each in a loaf pan to get nice high, light loaves for everyday eating.

Teresa_in_nc's picture

In the above recipe, you would add the proofed yeast/water to the cooled grain mixture just before you start to add the flours.

Sorry about that.

Christina's picture

I agree with the above comments on VWG. The loaf (50-50 whole wheat and white flour) I make for everyday eating includes it and now I put it in all my breads, even though the recipe doesn't say to. Also, to lighten the texture of dense breads, it is recommended to start it off with a sponge.

gardenmama's picture

The recipe I'm using is a 50/50 white/wheat loaf, that I've added 1/2 cup of wheat bran to in place of 1/2 cup of wheat flour. It rises fine if you leave the wheat bran out, but the bran makes it that much more dense, even if I add 4 tsp VWG to it.

"To lighten the texture of dense breads, it is recommended to start it off with a sponge."

What does that mean?

Darrinw2001's picture

A sponge is also called a pre-ferment, it is also known as a starter. usually you take about a cup of flour, and a teaspoon of yeast, and a cup of water and let set for a few hours or overnight. then add this to you recipe replacing the same amounts used in the sponge.


Floydm's picture

check out the glossary entry.

Nancy's picture

The current (March/April 2006)issue of Cook's Illustrated has a very good multigrain sandwich loaf. I made it over the weekend and it was a big hit--even with my whole-wheataphobic husband. It, too, relies on the addition of cooked multigrain cereal (easy to find at the supermarket), but isn't a sourdough. Sturdy enough to slice thinly for sandwiches, and it makes great toast (I'm having some now--forgive me for typing with my mouth full).

Next time I make it, I'm going to add a good dollop of malt syrup, but even just the way it is, it's well worth adding to one's collection.


JohnnyX's picture

Nancy, could you please post the recipe for this loaf? It sounds good. Thanks! =)


Patrick's picture

Fiber!! Another good question. The following article contains an excellent discussion of the subject of adding fiber to bread:'s written by a pro (and for pros) but the information is adaptable for home bakers. Note that toward the end of the "what's healthful" section he talks about adding "bean flour, stone ground whole wheat flour, untreated high-gluten wheat flour, soy flour, sorghum flour, wheat bran, oat groats and ground flaxseed" to bread.

It seems that the highest fiber additive is flaxseed but the problem with flaxseed is that it gives a dry -possibly raspy- feel to the bread. My wife didn't like the loaf I made with flaxseed but perhaps I need to refine my methods. Note that the article mentions that Paul Stitt -the bakery professional- solved this problem with a specially coated flaxseed (perhaps not available to home bakers). For home bakers perhaps flax can be used only in smaller quantities.

This is a good possibility as beans are a high source of fiber (see I bought some garbanzo bean flour last night that I'm going to try adding to bread; it has a fiber content of 5grams in 1/4cup (30gm) and I would expect the taste to be mild. This level is almost twice the fiber level in even the higher fiber wheat flours.

We all know the taste of bran muffins. The problem with bran -if I'm not mistaken- is that it also adds a dry problematic taste/texture which would be objectionable in some breads or which might require the addition of other ingredients (such as too much sugar) to offset the problems introduced by the bran.

This is another good possibility; I haven't fully explored it though just yet.

Don't forget that good King Arthur flours (such as "White Whole Wheat" or bread flour) already have almost 3grams of flour in 1/4cup (30gm) so it's important to be careful about the flour your bread is based on.

Good luck,

cnemmers's picture

Why would you want to coat flax seed? Flax is a seed and therefore already has a coat. In order to absorb the great nutritional benefits of flax you need to mill it like in a coffee grinder so that you may absorb the nutrients which would have been prevented previously from the seed coat. The darker flax tends to be stronger tasting and kinda fishy due to the omega 3 fatty acids so I would try GOLDEN OMEGA FlAX SEED it is mild in flavor and much less noticeable in bread. I should know because I am a health food freak and I eat 3 tab. per day.
A freak I am ... but a Healthy one at that!
I hope you have a Fiber filled Day!

hotbred's picture

ADD plenty of whole wheat or whatever else u wanto yougert what have u BUT !!! get a box of hodgson mill vital wheat gluten With gluten added U will have a more uprite bred more oven spring but please add 1 teas per loaf OK hotbred

Cheryl's picture

You can buy Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten at Wal-Mart -- no need to run to the health food store.

naschol's picture

One reason that bread made with extra bran may not rise as well is because the larger bran pieces actually cut the gluten strands. You might want to try running the bran through your blender or spice/coffee grinder before adding to the dough.


nutrovita1's picture

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titus's picture

You're never going to get as high a rise with whole grains, but so what?

A more dense, chewy bread is just fine. I think that grain breads that are too light lack substance, but then again, I like the "toothfeel" of a real grain bread.