The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Do Large Holes = Flavor

DanAyo's picture

Do Large Holes = Flavor

It seems to me that large holes or at least very open crumb produces better flavor than a more closed cell bread. But it really doesn’t make sense to me why this should be. It seems to work this way with both yeasted breads and SD.

  1. Do you agree
  2. If so, why is this the case

This question arises from a recent quest to bake a bread with Ciabatta flavor and a sandwich bread crumb (not open).

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

I don't necessarily agree. If you include the whole eating experience into "flavour", then large holes could be beneficial, depending on the purpose and preference. Pure taste and aroma of the bread - can't be affected by size of holes directly. I'm not sure if it's possible that the conditions needed to create open crumb happen to affect the flavour in some particular way. I am skeptical.

But we do perceive food with all our senses, so go with what your mouth, eyes, ears and other organs tell you!

Abe's picture

A perfectly fermented dough brings out the most flavour in a bread. If a dough is under fermented it'll compromise on crumb and flavour. But it isn't the holes themselves that give flavour. 

In some ways a tighter crumb gives more flavour as long as the reason for the tight crumb is not under fermentation. 

yozzause's picture

i agree with Abe its all down to a perfectly fermented dough that gives the flavour.


justkeepswimming's picture

My shaping abilities are improved from what they were a year ago, but if I'm not paying attention or am in a hurry, I tend to degas the dough a bit too much. Gentle shaping seems to give my bread a bit more open crumb - but I can't say that either of us has noticed a flavor difference. Fermentation and flour selection seems to be bigger influences. 

I wonder about hydration influences, might skew your observations/experiences on holes vs flavor?  🤔

NumbWhistle's picture

I am by no means an expert baker, much less a professional (I'm happy to share my work, but some of it isn't pretty), but I would guess the holes do more to improve texture and mouth feel than they do actual flavor.


I would also agree with the post that mentioned proper fermentation and higher hydration that result in a more open crumb actually doing more to improve flavor than the actual holes themselves.


Then again, what do I know? :-)


- Steve

trailrunner's picture

My dad was a butcher at one point in his life in the 1930’s-40’s. He always said slice meat paper thin to serve in order to have the best flavor due to the air touching/ permeating the surface. He’s of course correct. When slicing roast beef or ham when it is sliced paper thin it has way more flavor.

The same is true of bread . I find the thin slices of finely grained bread have way more flavor than any slice, thick or thin , of large hole bread . 

I think large holes take away from the flavor… duh lol… it’s a hole ! Could be wrong but having baked all our bread for almost 50 yrs that’s what I’ve found to be true . c

MTloaf's picture

Are where the flavor is. What I mean by that is the glistening skin of the holes is where it’s at. Does an open crumb have more of that than a tighter crumb? Hard to measure but maybe so at least that is what I tell myself;-)


headupinclouds's picture

Have you compared an open and closed crumb bake of the same dough in the same sitting?  It reminds me of the whole wheat flavor comparison you did a while ago.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

works best for bringing out flavours.  Cheese, thin sliced or spread thin. Bubbles in potatoe chips. Phyllo dough creations. Smoked salmon thinly cut with a razor sharp knife.  Meat and cold cuts already mentioned. Crackers.  Soup slurfing.  Try slurfing your favourite drink sometime and compare. (If we all do it at the same time and have to cough, will the rotation of the earth be affected?)

Bread sliced thin gets my vote.

Benito's picture

Assuming the difference in alveoli is not related to issues in fermentation then I don’t think that larger alveoli equates with more flavour.  I do think that we do react to textures and the textural differences might affect our perception of flavour.

Doc.Dough's picture

The flavor of salt and the texture of a good sourdough (crackly crust, light/airy crumb, good chew) probably gets 90 points out of 100.  The remaining smell of the aromatic compounds, and the sour/sweet balance against the salt goes into 8 the remaining 10 point. Appearance gets the last 2 but I can eat bread with my eyes closed and still tell when I get to heaven.

Abe's picture

"The flavor of salt and the texture of a good sourdough (crackly crust, light/airy crumb, good chew) probably gets 90 points out of 100".

 Which comes from perfect fermentation.