The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Why Holes?

harryf's picture

Why Holes?

It seems that one of the goals for baking artisan bread is for the crumb to include large holes. Why?

I have had no problem with producing bread like this (don't use sourdough), but am not sure if it corresponds to enhanced flavor or some aspect of desireable texture.

I do know that it does not work well for toast, unless you enjoy have melted butter and honey or jam dripping through and making a mess.

I guess I could make some experiments to find out for my self but getting advice from folks with experience and know-how is so much quicker and easier. So, what do you all think?

idaveindy's picture

Welcome to TFL!  Where some of us are half-baked, but no one is crummy.

"It seems that one of the goals for baking artisan bread is for the crumb to include large holes. Why?"

IMO, that is not generally, or not universally, true.

It's merely one of many aesthetics.   As you point out, it's not universally useful.  But for just dipping in seasoned oil and snacking on as an appetizer, it's fine.

It's popular on Instagram. So some of the "cool kids" do it. Or maybe it's "keeping up with the Joneses."

And like any craft or hobby,  it's a matter of "whatever floats your boat."  

Trends come and go. 


So, what kinda bread do you like / bake ?   

I'm into 90% whole grain loaves, and except for the 10% white flour, mill at home.


phaz's picture

Not being a fan of huge holes, I will give some advice if ya do like them - get a dog. Everything that falls out will go to good use - only downside is the little guy will be right at your feet 24/7 waiting for a treat - yeah - this is from experience. Enjoy!

clazar123's picture

I believe your observation about flavor is one of the possibilities about why holes are desirable. When you have large holes, the crumb is usually very well and properly fermented and the flavor-like fine wine- is delicious on the tongue. Also, the texture as you chew helps to deliver that flavor without being pasty or glue like.The presence of too much crumb can overwhelm the taste buds.

When saliva is mixed with the wad of food in our mouth, it helps deliver flavor to our taste buds. When air is mixed in, it enhances the flavor we perceive. Think of those coffee,tea and other tasters that slurp air through their mouthful of the sample in their mouth. I think the same thing happens with bread. So, bread with large holes may promote our ability to perceive the actual flavor of the bread and a large-holed crumb may actually be more flavorful because it was well fermented.

OTOH, the best bread I have tasted in my life was a very well done loaf of WW that I made myself...once. For whatever reason, everything came together with that particular experiment and even though I documented it well and have tried to duplicate that recipe, I have never again achieved that particular flavor profile. Close but not quite the same. Who would have thought a loaf of WW sandwich loaf could be that delicious. I had a tasting friend on that and subsequent loaves who agreed-it had incredible flavor.

Holes or no holes-peronal preference and why the bread is being used- sandwiches,toast & honey, cheese,dipping...always enjoy.

gerhard's picture

be deceiving you, the day you remember maybe was a cool fall day you went for a walk and where hungry when you returned and everything tasted fantastic. Recreating the bread might be perfect but recreating the experience might be off the mark.  Just a thought.

phaz's picture

Just read the op again and have an idea.

Look up the definition of a hole, then ask yourself what effect that can have on taste or texture.

Might save ya some time and effort.Enjoy!

semolina_man's picture

To wit: read about the German, French and Italian bread artisans.  In the native language websites, based in the native country.  Do not read about other countries' bread culture through websites that are based in another country.   In the home country websites, in the home country language, you will find high quality bread, best in the world in fact, with no holes. 

Holes do nothing for flavor. 

Holes do nothing for degustation.  In fact, they hinder degustation in the case of using spreads or other toppings such as meat, cheese or vegetables. 

Holes do nothing for aesthetics or appearance to many people.  I am in this camp. 

Holes are a phenomenon of social media and people latching on to something they don't know much about. 

Holes are an indication of insufficiently deflated dough prior to shaping. 

alfanso's picture

one can assign to their baking.  If they wish.  There are many bakers in France who create baguettes with an open crumb.  I'll limit this to just baguettes, which is what interests me.

Quoting semolina_man "In the home country websites, in the home country language, you will find high quality bread, best in the world in fact, with no holes. "

Here is just a sampling indicating that there are no absolutes.

To state that other cultures and countries do not value the open crumb is incorrect.  Is it an appropriate finished product everywhere or for any bread?  That depends on what the baker values and creates.