The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to tell from a formula what the crumb *should* be like?

BluesmanEP's picture

How to tell from a formula what the crumb *should* be like?

Hello All,

I've been baking various types of bread at home for a while now, with pretty good success. My question is how to tell from a formula what the texture of the crumb should be? It is simply a question of hydration - a higher percentage of water will yield a dough with more holes and an open crumb, and a stiffer dough will yield smaller holes? Or is there a better way to tell?

When making a bread I'm familiar with, I know what I'm 'aiming for' as far as texture goes, and am able to evaluate my loaf and figure out how to make it better next time. What about if I'm making something entirely new, from a simple text description, or even just a percentage formula? Are there general guidelines, based on the formula for textures etc.? I make a lot of different types (and textures) of bread, from crusty hearth-loves to whispy, almost cloud-like pan cubano, and when using a new formula, I'm often not sure what the ideal texture for that bread would be. Any thoughts or help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance, this site has been a wonderful resource for me!


ananda's picture

Hi Evan,

you've entered a complex area here.   There are many variables in a recipe and formula which can, and will, impact on the final texture of the crumb.

Clearly hydration levels is one factor, and a major one at that.   Here are some others that I can think of:

fat level; sugar level, yeast level; solt level; use of any improver/dough conditioner; any other enriching material; type of flour used; use of pre-gelatinised flour in a "boil-up"; type of pre-ferment used; different times and temperatures used at any of the process stages; any number of variances in the process stages.

So there is a LOT to took at.   However, yes, a wet dough, handled carefully and subjected to stretch and fold only during proof, will yield an open-textured bread [eg. Ciabatta], and a tight dough subjected to pre-boiling will yield a tight and chewy crumb [eg. Bagels].

Best wishes