Recently, I posted an exchange about a reader who, when trying one of Leader's Poolish recipes, had some problems with the final loaf being too dense. Since it's one of the most frequently expressed problems in bread baking, I posted the feedback.
It was revealed in a later email with this person, unlike Leader, the bread was made with ALL whole wheat flour! As virtuous as this sounds, breads made entirely from whole wheat flour are, for the most part, pretty darn dense. Leader, Silverton and most of the baking world use a fraction (typically not more than 1/3 of the flour makeup (by weight) whole wheat or whole grain flour and the other 2/3 unbleached white (UBW)) when making grainy breads. The UBW has the type of protein that gives structure to the risen loaf so it stays somewhat airy during the proof and subsequent baking.
That person wrote me later to give an update. Using the flour Leader uses (20% whole wheat) indeed made a difference and the results sounded quite good.
If there were ever a discipline in which the lessons are learned and relearned over time, it is baking. This individual also forwarded a cool quote from the 3rd printing of the 1975 Edn. of The Joy of Cooking found at a used book sale:
Feather-lightness is, of course, by no means a prime objective in making whole-grain breads. Yet such loaves should have substance without high density. If our instructions are closely followed, you will never have occasion to level at us the reproach of Mrs. Burns, who, on viewing an impressive monument to her illustrious son, exclaimed: "Aye Robbie! Ye asked for bread, and they've given ye a stane".