Dense / Coarse Texture

Here are some helpful solutions for the common causes:

  • Poor gluten development
    • The bread dough did not rise enough. Whole wheat, cake, self-rising and non-wheat flours such as rye, oat, barley, rice and soy all have too little gluten. Also, self-rising and cake flours are lower in gluten and therefore will not produce the best yeast bread. Yeast breads need flour with higher levels of gluten to produce a good bread structure and rise properly. For best results, combine these flours with bread flour or a national brand of all-purpose flour. A good rule of thumb is to use two parts bread or all-purpose flour to one part other flour. You can also increase the amount of yeast used in the recipe.
    • In the South, all-purpose flour is milled from soft winter wheat which is lower in gluten; it therefore will not produce the best yeast breads. For best results, use bread flour or a national brand of all-purpose flour. Learn more about flour.
    • It is possible the dough was not kneaded long enough. It takes time for gluten to develop fully. Bread dough should be kneaded 4 to 10 minutes. When you have kneaded the dough enough, it will be smooth and elastic, and tacky rather than sticky. A good test is to press the heel of your hand firmly and deeply into the dough; hold it there 10 seconds. If your hand comes away clean, you have kneaded the dough enough.
  • Too much flour was used
    • Too much flour makes yeast dough too stiff to rise correctly.
    • Be careful measuring flour. When flour is "scooped" into the measuring cup directly from the container, it compresses or becomes packed. This means you will be adding more flour than called for in the recipe. Spoon flour from the container into the measuring cup and use a metal spatula or the flat side of a knife to level the flour even with the top of the cup.
    • Add as little flour as possible when kneading the dough. Learn more about flour.
  • Fat slows down the rising of dough

    While fat added to yeast dough helps produce a loaf that has a moister crumb and keeps fresher longer, fat added to flour before the liquid called for in the recipe will coat the protein in the flour and prevent the gluten from forming. However, if small amounts of fat (a little vegetable oil or melted butter) are added after mixing the dough and just before kneading, fats increase the gas-holding ability of yeast dough and the volume of the bread will increase. Learn more about Fats in Baking.

  • Salt slows yeast growth and inhibits rise

    Excess salt keeps yeast from growing and the dough will not rise as well. Reduce the amount of salt or find another similar recipe prepared with less salt.

  • Dough did not rise long enough

    Many factors influence the amount of time the first rise will take. It depends on the type of yeast used, the temperature of the dough, the temperature of the environment the dough is kept in for rising and a number of other conditions. The dough should be allowed to rise until it has doubled in size. The dough will also appear swollen and puffy and will usually have a few blisters on top. You can test the dough to be sure it has risen enough by the "poke test" – lightly pressing two fingers about 1/2-inch into the center. If the indentation remains, the dough has risen sufficiently.

  • Oven too hot

    An oven that is too hot can bake bread so fast that there is no time for "oven spring" to occur before the dough is set. Follow recipe directions for the correct baking temperature. To insure the correct temperature each time you bake, always use an oven thermometer. Adjust oven dial up or down to correct the oven temperature.

  • Dough was allowed to rise too long before baking

    Once the yeast dough is shaped, the second rising period is much shorter than the first (20 to 60 minutes). Make sure the shaped bread doesn't rise too long before baking – it should only double in size. If it rises too much, the dough will collapse on itself during baking and the bread will have a dense, coarse or dry texture.