The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

I want BIG holes in my bread.

jklarsen's picture

I want BIG holes in my bread.


I have been reading all of your wonderful posts on this site for quite a while, and you all seems like really good bakers.

I have only recently jump into the art of baking good breads myself, and though my ambitions are high, i am afraid that my skills still needs some training.

I have one simple question, and i realize that the answer might not be simple, i still want to ask it.


I am currently set on making breads like the Rustic light Rye loaf and Tartine style breads. One thing they have in common apart from being very delicious is the big air holes. Now here comes the question.

What is it that makes these big wonderful holes? - because i have made 60% hydration breads, and 80% hydration 100% wheat breads with yeast and or sour dough, and although my breads have been great, they have only had semi-big holes, and i want the big holes ;-)

Can any of you help me in my quest?

Kind regards,
Jan H.


Marco.Hiirata's picture
LoveBreadBaking's picture

Hello, I believe to make larger holes in the bread is to be sure the oven is set high, the high heat makes it burst with bubbles, 450 or higher depending on your oven, you can lower it later.


jcking's picture

1. High hydration, 75% or more
2. Fairly high gluten flour
3. DDT 80°F
4. Autolyse
5. Good gluten development and poor gluten organization
6. Long primary fermentation with several stretch and folds
7. Very gentle handling
8. Rest between dividing and shaping
9. Very gentle shaping
10. High oven temperature
11. Well steamed oven
12. Oven venting
13. Loaf rest before slicing

Remember the Tartine loaf pictured were baked in a wood fired oven.


jklarsen's picture

Thank you for your fast responses.

I have one newbie question - what is DDT 80°F?


MangoChutney's picture

I did a search on DDT and found Desired Dough Temperature.

Humorously, it could be bug spray to keep the bugs out of the procedure.  *grin*

quickquiche's picture

This may or may not contribute to it, but I've had recent success with this that I didn't have before.

Raisin yeast water...  Yes, using raisin yeast water rather than commercially made yeast seemed to help me get big holes in the crumb of my loaves that I was NOT getting when I used commercially made instant yeast.

You might try that method along with the other suggestions.

Cachi's picture


This has also been one of my quests in bread making and I've succeeded in obtaining big holes in my breads.

I strongly agree with Jim on most of his points except for 3, 12 and 13 and although they are excellent advice and I do practice all except 3, I can't see why the latter would have any effect on crumb. I'm not saying you can't achieve an open crumb if you do let the DDT reach 80F, it's just not my preference since I believe flavor can suffer from an overly warm dough.

I never let the DDT reach beyond 72 F, in fact the long fermentation (24h) is done at 60F after a cold 12h autolyse in the refrigerator. Proofing is done at room temperature, meaning I don't try to control this step but rather adjust the proofing time accordingly. Flour is organic KAF (all-purpose white) and hydration is +80%, no yeast, 100% leaven.

The extent to which holes will be more or less big is largely due to how you handle the dough during the shaping phase, all else remaining constant.

An example illustrating this is shown below. Here are two cases where the only difference was how the dough was handled during pre-shaping and shaping steps:

I hope this helps.

Good luck!

jcking's picture


As always 10% formula, 90% bakers skill. My list above is a culmination of other Fresh Loaf posts, baking books, and Bread Bakers Guild of America threads (I cut and paste any useful info I find into wordpad files). All are subject to interpretation by the baker and their skill level. As to the DDT of 80°F I agree flavor could suffer, it's up to the baker to find the balance they prefer. As to 12 and 13 venting (at end of bake) and rest, apply to most hearth breads baked at home. I don't believe a soft crust goes well with holey bread. Myself, I lean more toward flavor than large holes. Air has no flavor {:-))

The outstanding results you have achieved shows how the skillful baker can control time and temperature to achieve the desired results.


Cachi's picture

I wish I could take credit but it's all mother nature in play. I'm just there for the ride... and to mess things up! (like during the shaping or baking)

brinkster911's picture

Hi, these pictures look great, just the kind of holes I have been trying to achieve.

Would you be willing to share your recipe.

Ogi the Yogi's picture
Ogi the Yogi

two loafs? I get a beautifully tasting bread but for some reason absolutely cannot get an even distribution of airholes throughout my crumb and they tend to be on the smaller side too. 

alabubba's picture

Here is a recipe that has always excelled at producing exactly the crumb your looking for. Its tastes good too.

lumos's picture


An example illustrating this is shown below. Here are two cases where the only difference was how the dough was handled during pre-shaping and shaping steps:

Can you please elaborate this more, if you could?  In what way were they different?  I mean, the crumbs on both pictures do look wonderfully open and beautiful, I don't mind having either of crumb anytime in my bread!



Getting very open crumb with large holes  CONSTANTLY, EVERYTIME (for certain types of bread, of course),  is my ultimate Holy Grail, too.  You see the photo (avvy) in my post?  That's a picture of poolish baguette I baked several years ago. I've been using exactly the same recipe over the years, but that's the only time I managed to achieve the crumb like that. I still don't know what sort of miracle happened there, because that time I wasn't paying much attention on procedures as much as I do and it was only the second or the third time I'd attempted making my own baguette. I need a time machine to find out.....

But one thing someone (a professional artisan baker) told me on another bread forum is that you should not use too strong flour and you should not knead too much, because large holes are created because gluten strands are not strong enough to contain expanding air during expansion in the oven, they break and create large holes.

Also, one thing I learned from my experience and some bread books is that it's important to punch down large air bubbles in dough during shaping. Because those few, very large air pockets actually prohibit other larger air pockets to form during baking, making crumb outside those large air pockets very tight.  You can 'punch down' those gently by patting the surface of the dough evenly with finger-parts of your open hand (Sorry for my hopeless discription. Hope you know what I mean...). Just the surface, not all way down. It helps distributing air in the dough, making the crumb evenly open all over still with some random, large holes.

Well that's the theory, anyway...... It's so much easier said than it's done....I think what we bot need is, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

Kind regareds,


Cachi's picture


Sure, I'll try.  Let me first begin by saying that I've seen and read conflicting theories on how to obtain a very open crumb and some have already been mentioned on this thread. For instance, the type of flour - Jim mentions a strong flour vs. what you were adviced to use, a weaker one. The amount of kneading - some suggest not to knead the dough much at all, others beat the living $#%! out of it to the point they have to warn you that "This will not hurt your precious Kitchen Aid". I do have to say that doing the long cold autolyse develops the gluten in an incredible way but without oxidation. The long fermentation also further develops the dough with a minimum of oxidation during the S&Fs. The single most important element is the hydration level. After this, other factors already mentioned come into play.

Personally, I'm looking for the best flavor I can get out of a given flour so I keep temperatures below 72F, I will do a minimum amount of kneading, all by hand and mainly using the S&F technique. Although still experimenting on flours, I choose those with less protein and which are also organic. There's a good correlation between weaker flours and good flavor (i.e. french flours are sought after for their taste they impart to the bread).

Back to the pictures...As I mentioned, both breads use the same recipe, ingredients, times and temperatures.

Picture 1: Handling during the shaping was kept to a minimum - The dough is turned out onto the surface, lightly poked with finger tips, stretched out and folded to a batard shape. Rested for 20 min then stretched and folded again to same shape and placed in banneton. That's it!

Picture 2: Same steps as above but with additional stretching and folding, tightening up the outer "skin". I also poked a bit more, getting rid of the bigger air pockets. There are only subtle differences between the two.

There isn't really much more to it but shaping is a deceivingly simple task. I still cannot produce consistently well-shaped loaves due to the high water content of my dough but I know that if I were to reduce the hydration rate, I could be more consistent in producing appealing bread. I'm still experimenting and fine tuning.


lumos's picture

Thank you very much for trying to explain. Really apprecieted.

Yes, I agree, there's so many conflicting opinions, it is really confusing sometimes. I guess the only way is trying out many methods and gradually establish the way which work for you best.  I just hope I'll be able to produce constant good result like you before long.

There's a good correlation between weaker flours and good flavor (i.e. french flours are sought after for their taste they impart to the bread).

Not to sure about this, to be honest.... I don't think weakness of French flour is the reason for their superior taste, but, if my understanding is correct,  the way they mill is the key to it;  less oxidation due to slower milling process which helps keeping flavour and also higher ash level;  because of the way they mill more wheatgerm and bran are left in the final flour to achieve deeper flavour.



Cachi's picture

You're absolutely right, there are many other factors that contribute to a flavorful flour. I shouldn't have generalized about weak flour and good flavor but it has been my observation that several good bakers on this site prefer flours that are not too strong. Is it a coincidence? Perhaps, but I don't think gluten brings anything other than structure to a bread, certainly not taste; otherwise we'd all be adding some gluten flour to our doughs. I have this notion in my mind that high protein flours are like those monster vegetables in our gardens - they look great in pictures but have no taste :)

lumos's picture

I have this notion in my mind that high protein flours are like those monster vegetables in our gardens - they look great in pictures but have no taste :)

Haha! I like that! :D

But I'm not sure if there's any correlation between weakness of flour and its flavour, though. I personally would like to choose weaker flour (or due to lack of good quality weak flour in UK, I mix strong and plain to deliberately make it weaker) so that I can achieve light, open crumb but weakness doesn't really add anything to the flavour, so I often add small amount of WW flour or wheatgerm to improve flavour (attempting to emulate French flour with high ash content) .  In UK and USA, the milling process has long been more industrialized for mass market, which is good thing if you're after production efficiency but a bad news for flavour, while in France they still have many millers whose milling process is closer to more traditional slower method.  Also, I believe their milling stone is different (again, more traditional) from ours which helps retain the part of grain that is important for flavour. Hence higher ash content. As far as I know (please someone correct me, if I'm wrong),  the reason many TFLers use relatively weak KA AP flour is because their flour is high quality because of the careful way they mill theirs. 

kmrice's picture

Read 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust by William Alexander for a great book about a baker on the same quest as you for big holes. Excellent read, very funny, with a great deal of information on all aspects of bread. His recpies at the end work well for me.



rkursem's picture

There is no short or easy answer to this. I spent around 15 years learning to master this.
In short, the main factors are:

 - The right flour and balance between water and flour - depends greatly on flour quality.
 - The right kneading.
 - The right handling of the wet dough.
 - The right baking.

You can read a detailed description of my efforts here (including pictures and videos):