The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Big Holes & Human Nature

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Big Holes & Human Nature

For the last 2 years I have worked diligently to produce the illustrious and much sought after open crumb. < that darn Trevor Wilson :D > Thanks to Doc, I am well on my way to developing that skill set. Not there yet, but close...

But now when I give a bread with those coveted holes, I feel the need to apologize for them. 

Human nature is hilarious!

Now, I’m concerned I won’t be able to bake that lacy honeycomb crumb that I so consistently baked before.

We struggle to get what we don’t have and once we get it, we often wonder, why?

Human nature IS hilarious!

Danny

When I want a piece of bread to eat this fits the bill much better. No ears or large holes that evoke the praise of Internet bakers, but boy - is it nice to spread butter or condiments on.

I still want the skillset to bake extreme open crumb, BUT when it comes to eating, gimmie sum of da below...

 To each his own.

ifs201's picture
ifs201

That's really outstanding. Your hard work and curiosity has really paid off. Congratulations!

Colin2's picture
Colin2

Sorry, but I could not resist.  It looks lovely!

ds99303's picture
ds99303

I definitely like the second picture better than the first.  When it comes to ears and extreme open crumb, I'm reminded of the story of the Emperor's New Clothes.  Everyone kept praising and saying how beautiful they were because they were afraid of going against the masses in the mistaken belief that their opinion must be wrong.  It took just one small boy to point out the obvious.  The dude was naked.  I've taken it upon myself to take on the role of that little boy and visit as many bread making websites as I can and point out the impracticalities of ears and large holes in bread.  Of course if you like ears and big holes then fine, but like them because you truly like them and not because you think you're suppose to like them.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

We are often easily persuadable. In my day no man would be caught dead wearing an ear ring. Today it’s almost mandatory for the cool crowd.

I am not complaining, just observing human nature. We are all a peculiar lot...

I personally love ears and I’m thrilled to bake extreme open crumb on demand. Both are skill sets I greatly admire in others. 

Isn’t it great to be free and have the ability to make choices?

Danny

Benito's picture
Benito

Yes I think I prefer the second photo's crumb more.  Although the internet loves the very open crumb, I like the more lacy but not closed crumb of a well proofed loaf.  Now you've been able to achieve both, so you can bake to impress the internet or impress yourself.

Benny

Maverick's picture
Maverick

What caught my eye more than the holes is how well these images show the difference in how the crumb looks based on where scoring. It is easy to see where the gas was trying to escape as you follow the larger holes towards the smaller ones, and finally out the final scoring location. Those are both nice looking loaves.

As to the topic at hand, it really it depends how you are planning on using the bread. If you are spreading stuff on it, then the holes get in the way. But if you are dipping it then I like the flavor and texture of large irregular holes as these tend to be light and airy. The second picture is a nice compromise though.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Good point about using large holes for dipping.

But since smaller hole crumb would also serve dipping well, I have a question. Does large hole bread taste different than a bread made with exact dough but produced with a crumb of moderate size?

”inquiring minds want to know...”

Danny

phaz's picture
phaz

First - congratulations - you have seen the light (pouring in through those big holes) and decided is was to bright. Logic always comes to the top - eventually.

Holes and dipping - let's use logic again to look at this. A big hole won't hold much of what we are dipping it in. I love my Olive oil with garlic, black pepper and herbs, and want a lot of it when I'm dipping my bread in it. Nuff said.

Last - You wanted big holes and got them. Reminds me of the saying - Careful what you wish for, as you may end up getting it. 

Almost forgot - do big holes taste different - if you think they will, they do. But that's not really logical. As always - enjoy!

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

I am thrilled to have learned that skill set. It’s an attribute of my obsession.

For those that want them, good on you. For those that don’t, good on you.

Some like holey jeans and some don’t. For me, holey jeans are ridiculous, but some people pay hundreds of dollars for them.

Human Nature... go figure.

Danny

phaz's picture
phaz

Oh yeah - I was a happy camper when I first saw big holes. 4 or 5 loaves later, and a lot of counter top cleaning, I wasn't so thrilled anymore. What really turned me off, was having to use a teaspoon to sip my seasoned olive oil with my bread as the bread wasn't holding enough for my liking. Eh, I'm just an odd sort as a few have said - and I always thanked them for the compliment. Enjoy!

Maverick's picture
Maverick

As I said, the breads with large irregular holes tend to have a different texture. The taste is harder to say. The techniques that bring about the holes definitely makes a difference in taste. If the technique is the same, but you are a more heavy handed on the shaping to create smaller regular holes, then the difference is a lot smaller (if at all). For instance, one of my favorite breads is the ciabatta recipe by Ciril Hitz (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFja1ShZFsA). It uses a double hydration (because it is a very wet dough) and a poolish. The flavor profile is excellent. If I handle the dough too much, the bread becomes more dense and the texture is not as good (in my opinion). The flavor is still good, but the mouth feel is different. Something about the chewiness where those gluten bubbles formed is satisfying.

Of course, ciabatta is meant to be that way. For a baguette, I would aim for the second picture since it is still a nice open crumb with irregular holes. It is probably harder to achieve that balance. So I guess it all really depends on the kind of bread you are making. A nice pan de mie should have a small uniform crumb, ciabatta wide open, others can run the gambit of everything in between.

This topic comes up every once in a while. There was a discussion about it a while back that had some good information. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22005/why-open-crumb-desired

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Maverick the holes indicating pressure relief is an interesting observation.

I should also explain the shaping of both doughs and their resulting crumb.

The extreme open crumb was shaped using Kristen’s shaping technique (12:45)

The other crumb was shaped using Doc’s, aka doc.dough using his double rollup technique.

Everything else about these 2 doughs were identical. Shaping makes a difference.

Dan

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Thanks for sharing this video. It's very clear and seems like an easier method than I've seen shared on other videos.

BobbyFourFingers's picture
BobbyFourFingers

Are ears considered a fault? I get large ears on virtually every batard and have a crumb like the second photo, so the tartine-like crumb is not necessary for large ears, it’s just a function of tension in the dough.

Huge holes in crumb is usually (and classically) considered a fault, but what about large ears?

ds99303's picture
ds99303

Someone decided that ears are desirable and everyone decided that that person must be right even though they make the bread hard to slice and that little flap of bread at the top of slice is utterly useless and ends up being broken off anyway.  To me it always looks like the seam in the loaf wasn't sealed properly and the loaf has started to come apart.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

“Are big ears a fault”?

IMO, opinions are personal to each baker and every eater.

As far myself, they are extremely desired. To me looks are very important. It’s been said, “we eat with our eyes first”. Ears, IMO, are the marked of a skilled baker.

Now far me, big holes are for looks, not eating. But that’s me...

Dan

not.a.crumb.left's picture
not.a.crumb.left

both are light, lacy and beautiful!

What was it that made the difference in the end Dan? I seem to remember that you thought it was the make up of your starter and I am very curious what 'cracked' the code? :D Kat

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Not the starter Kat. I started using a very sweet starter and still no difference. Doc worked with me and I think I stumbled onto the problem(s).

  1. Since I am a “sourhead” my doughs have probably been over fermented. I was over proofing.
  2. I think in the process of pushing the ferment, the dough became acidic. And the acids weakened the dough.

When I forego both of the above, it blows my mind how strong and resilent the doughs become.

By the way - as I’ve suspected, my scoring was NOT the problem, the dough was. Most people believe they don’t get ears because they need to score better. That may be the case, but it isn’t necessarily so. A couple of years ago I told Alan, “I know if I could score your dough, it would produce ears.

Keep in mind - I am no authority on ears, I’m just beginning to get a taste of them...

Dan

BobbyFourFingers's picture
BobbyFourFingers

I suppose I could slightly over proof my dough or cut on a vertical bias but I don’t think large ears are an Instagram invention as lames for making large ears (bow-shaped razors) were available at least in the early 1990s as were written instructions to dock on a more horizontal bias. Admittedly I never heard or read about ears at the time, just how to properly dock your loaves (which would give you an ear). Perhaps the tools and knowledge were there but the obsession was not.