The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Open vs. Close Crumb

nicolesue's picture

Open vs. Close Crumb


I've made the 'lean dough' recipe from PR's ABED a couple of times. Most of the time, dough often comes out with large open crumbs, except for a loaf I made yesterday. Instead of the usual, the crumbs were close, more like regular bread loaf. Taste wise, the bread was thoroughly cook with no gummy texture at all. All in all, still very good to eat.

May I know what causes the crumbs to open and not? I've been using the same recipe each time. I'm just curious, and would like a better understanding, to help me control the outcome of the bread better next time.

As always, any ideas and advice will be highly appreciated!

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Sue.

There are so many factors that influence crumb structure!

Are you weighing ingredients? If measuring by volume, you can inadvertently alter flour to water ratios.

Differences in mixing impact gluten development. Under- and over-development can both result in fewer big holes. Under-development can make the bread denser. Over-development makes for smaller, more uniform-sized holes.

Are you fermenting the dough by time or by judging the dough's development? Differences in fermentation temperature, which are impacted by dough temperature and room temperature, can change how long you need to ferment it.

Dough handling in dividing and shaping the dough can retain or decrease the bubbles that fermentation generates. Handle the dough gently after fermentation.

The question about fermentation also applies to proofing. 

This is just a sampling of the factors that influence crumb structure, but I think I've hit the major ones. You might reflect on these and be able to identify what you did differently that resulted in a less open crumb.

I hope this helps.


nicolesue's picture

Hi David,

Thanks for highlighting the various variables to consider in my case.

Yes, i weigh all my ingredients, including water, down to 0.1 gram. Since it was PR's latest book, ABED, I followed his instructions for the overnight retarded fermentation. I've also learned from many experts in this forum that I should watch the dough, not the clock in terms of fermentation. So I believe it boils down to the way I handle the dough during shaping prior to the proofing. I suspected I may have not been so 'gentle' with the shaping, thus losing all my 'bubbles'.

It was nice of you to help me out on this. Appreciate it! Thanks!