The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can the crumb be significantly more open?

texasbakerdad's picture

Can the crumb be significantly more open?

A week ago, I set out on a mission to appease my wife's desire for the uber-healthy 100% whole wheat bread combined with my desire to produce a beautiful open crumb loaf.

Today I read dabrowman's Double Levain 100 % Whole Wheat Half Sprouted At 100 % Hydration post. Dabrowman seems to know what he is doing when it comes to baking bread. The crumb of his loaf was not open, but the bread looked divine, just holy enough for the Pope.

Now, I am starting to question whether or not 100% whole wheat and open crumb are even possible.

So... I ask the community, is it possible to have near tartine sized open crumb with 100% whole wheat (links, proof, photos)?

Elsie_iu's picture

It's absolutely possible to get moderately open crumb with 100% whole wheat. This is my recent bake inspired by dabrownman's 100% whole wheat half sprouted (given, it had vital wheat gluten which I know you prefer not to use):

You'll probably never be able to get super open crumb achievable by white flour. However, do you really want bread that can't even hold sandwich fillings? This is the price one has to pay for nutrition and flavour, which is totally worthwhile in my opinion.

Careful handling, proper time management and appropriate hydration are key points for open crumb (and good bread). They're only learnt after one gains experience so you must not rush it.

Something irrelevant: dabrownman is a "he". But his baking assistant, Lucy, is indeed a female dog :)

franbaker's picture

in my perusal of 100% WW recipes/formulae. I haven't seen huge Tartine holes anywhere even in 50% WW breads. If you look at the ones that Trevor J. Wilson or Maurizio (The Perfect Loaf) bakes, the holes are not Tartine-style in 50-100% WW loaves. Nor have I seen it in books by Chad Robertson, Peter Reinhart, Ken Forkish, Jeffrey Hamelman, Dan Lepard, or others. All the breads with the super-big holes have 25% of whole grains or less.

But I'm not aiming for those huge holes, just a texture that's light enough to be pleasant eating. And we're actually pretty satisfied with what I'm getting, since the flavor is great and it's nice and moist but not at all gummy. 

Dabrownman makes beautiful, gorgeous breads, including lots of whole grain loaves, and has given me lots of good advice. I would say that the crumb of the bread you linked to is pretty light and open. It's not "molten", or "Tartine-style", but I doubt that was the goal for that particular loaf. Have you read Trevor Wilson's comments about the pursuit of huge holes? You can read them in his reply to this post:  I thought what he had to say was really interesting.

leslieruf's picture

on achieving the different degrees of openness in your crumb.  with 100% ww? I don’t know and haven’t made any with that % yet so can’t comment.  Dabrownman is an excellent source of info as well! his breads are gorgeous.


Malio's picture

blog entry by pips!

It might be just what  you are looking for, not as open as Tartine, but it might give you an idea.

texasbakerdad's picture

You are why I created this post. I thought... maybe someone else had seen a loaf that was 100% whole wheat and had a crumb like that!

And now, I have a 100% whole wheat recipe I can work towards achieving. 90% hydration... I can do this!


dabrownman's picture

 Empress Ying (txfarmer)is the Queen of Whole Wheat Crumb, or any crumb for that matter, but her baking is out of this world as Ming the Merciless's Daughter from the planet. Mongo.

Either baker is one to emulate and to strive for their results.   Everyone can do it except Lucy of course but she is just a baking apprentice 2nd class for heaven's sake:-)

Happy baking

not.a.crumb.left's picture

very inspiring baker and his  100%WW...

I would be happy with that!  ....:D Kat



texasbakerdad's picture


texasbakerdad's picture

What does the 100/100/100 mean in his comment?

not.a.crumb.left's picture

whilst you looked with another link as I thought was even better... Kat


not.a.crumb.left's picture

and always good to have something to aim for!!! Interestingly enough he does that soaking method...which a number of people have tried here but I have not done yet.... Kat

Bigblue's picture

Nice to see there are a few of us pursuing an open crumb with 100% wg. I'll post my results as I plan to focus on it. My criteria is having both rye and red fife, fresh milled, organic. No additives, just flour, water, salt. I don't want big holes but a medium open crumb and a decent rise and bloom.