Did you know your sourdough bread sandwich is part of an ancient legacy? Humans have been making sourdough since Ancient Egyptian times!
Making sourdough bread is a delicious and satisfying way to show your culinary skills. But there is one step in the process that always seems to stump bakers: getting an open crumb on their loaves.
One of the characteristics of sourdough bread is the presence of large holes. These large holes are also known as “an open crumb.”
Are you trying your hand at joining in this time-honored tradition? If so, you may be wondering how to get large holes in sourdough bread. This guide will show you how to achieve that perfect texture, so your sourdough bread can be the star of any meal.
Open Crumb: What Sets Sourdough Apart
Sourdough bread has a distinctive taste and texture due to the fermentation process that takes place during its preparation.
Open crumb bread is superior in taste and texture to loaves of bread with a tighter crumb. It contributes to the taste of the bread; a well-developed crumb will have a pleasing flavor. This is because the longer fermentation time creates more flavor complexity.
Open crumb is a desirable quality in sourdough bread, as it allows the bread to rise higher and results in a more airy texture. Open crumb bread is also often more nutritious, as the longer fermentation process breaks down some of the gluten and makes the nutrients in the flour more available to the body.
How Do I Get an Open Crumb?
There are a few different factors that contribute to an open crumb. One is the structure of the dough itself. Sourdough bread dough is typically quite wet, which allows it to produce more gas during the fermentation process. This gas is what ultimately forms the large holes in the bread.
Another factor that contributes to a good crumb is the type of flour. Bread flour contains hard wheat. Hard wheat flour contains whole grain, which has fiber, vitamins, and minerals. All of these nutrients and the higher protein give it a hearty flavor and a chewy texture.
It also has a higher gluten content than all-purpose flour. Gluten is actually the protein that is responsible for bread’s chewy texture. Not only that, but the gluten also helps trap the gas from the fermentation process, leading to large holes in the finished bread.
In addition, your technique matters if you want large holes in your bread. When shaping the dough into loaves, bakers will often stretch and fold it several times. This process helps to create a more open structure in the dough, which allows for more gas to escape during baking and results in larger holes in the finished bread.
Succeed with Fermentation
When you begin making your sourdough bread, make sure you have your starter, which is a mix of water, flour, and wild yeast, that you will use to leaven your bread.
If you want large holes in sourdough bread, you will need a long fermentation process. It allows the yeast to do its job and creates lots of air bubbles in the dough. When you bake the bread, those air bubbles expand and make those big, beautiful holes we all love.
The Power of Wild Yeast
Sourdough is unlike other types of bread that use baker’s yeast. Instead, sourdough uses an active starter. Wild yeast is a natural, airborne yeast that is all around us. It is often used to leaven bread and other baked goods.
To get big holes in your sourdough bread, you will need to activate the wild yeast. Once the wild yeast is active, it will start to produce carbon dioxide gas. This gas will cause the dough to rise and create big holes in the bread.
You can either get a starter from a friend or purchase it online. If you make a starter from scratch, it takes around five days to ferment.
Make sure that the ratio of flour to water is 1:1. Once you have mixed everything, put a lid on the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. After 24 hours, check on the mixture. It should be bubbly and smell slightly sour. If it is not, then you will need to start over.
Once it is ready to use, you can leave it out at room temperature if you plan to use it frequently. If not, you can store it in the fridge. When you make sourdough bread, you are combining this starter with your dough. The fermentation process works as the wild yeast breaks down the grains.
You actually need a long fermentation process for better air bubbles. But you also don’t want to wait too long. If you allow the dough to ferment for too long, the dough will not have enough structure. Instead, it will become very liquidy, and you will not be able to form it.
Aim to ferment your dough from 12 to 48 hours. 48 hours is the maximum. 24 hours would be more ideal.
A Solid Recipe
Aside from a starter, make sure you use a tried-and-true sourdough recipe to get an open crumb. If you are looking for a great starting recipe, we’ve got you covered. The ingredients you use for your sourdough have a big impact on how many holes you’ll have in your bread.
Use Quality Flour
To start, make sure you are using appropriate flour. A light or all-purpose flour will give your sourdough bread a more cake-like texture, while a heavier whole wheat flour will make it denser.
You can use all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour for more holes. You can also add some vital wheat gluten to your flour mix. It will help the bread to rise more and be less dense.
Another way to make your sourdough bread less dense is to let it rise for a longer period of time. It will allow the bread to develop more gluten, which will make it lighter and less dense.
How Much Water Do I Need?
A drier dough will produce a tighter, more closed crumb. If you want a more open crumb, add more water to the dough. This will make the dough softer and easier to shape.
It will also result in a loaf with a crisp crust and a soft, fluffy interior. If you want a tighter crumb, use less water. This will make the dough firmer and more difficult to shape. It will also result in a loaf with a chewy crust and a dense, moist interior.
The amount of water you use will also affect the flavor of the bread. A wetter dough will result in bread with a milder flavor, while a drier dough will produce bread with a stronger flavor.
Wetter dough helps to form more gluten in the dough. You will not need to knead the dough when it is well hydrated. You can calculate the hydration for your dough and aim to keep the rate around 75%.
Pay Attention to Your Oven
A longer rising time will help you create a lighter, airier texture. When baking the bread, bakers use techniques such as scoring the dough or steaming the oven to help the bread expand evenly and prevent it from collapsing.
If you are looking for a foolproof way to bake sourdough bread, try using a Dutch oven. This kitchen staple is ideal for trapping heat and moisture, resulting in a crispy crust and fluffy interior.
For best results, preheat your oven or Dutch oven before adding the dough. Then, bake the bread covered for 20 minutes before removing the lid to allow the bread to brown.
The key to a good rise is a warm, moist environment. You can do this in your kitchen oven by turning it up to its highest setting and placing a pan of water on the bottom rack while the dough is rising. If your oven doesn’t have a steam function, simply spraying the dough lightly with water before baking will help create a crusty exterior.
Too Much Open Crumb
Can you have too much of a good thing? Sadly, you can also go overboard and end up with holes that are too big on your sourdough. No one wants sauces dropping straight from the bread onto their plate when eating a sandwich.
Over-proofing can cause too many large holes in the bread. This occurs when the yeast overgrows and creates too much gas.
The best way to avoid over-proofing is to use a kitchen scale when measuring out the ingredients. This way, you can be precise with the amount of yeast you are using and know exactly when the dough has risen enough.
Another way to avoid over-proofing is to place the dough in a cool, draft-free place while it is rising. This will slow down the yeast’s activity and prevent it from overgrowing.
Beware of Poor Shaping
Poor shaping can also cause large holes because you are not stretching and forming the dough evenly.
You may have heard you need to knead bread. You can knead it lightly, but you don’t want to do it too aggressively.
If you do, you risk toughening the dough too much. You may end up with a hard loaf of bread. In the case of sourdough, you will want to shape and stretch it instead – particularly if you have a well-hydrated dough.
When shaping the dough, be sure to evenly distribute the tension so that the dough doesn’t tear and create large holes. If you see large holes forming while the bread is baking, simply poke them with a chopstick or skewer to release the steam and prevent them from getting too big.
When shaping, stretch it out gently and then tuck the ends under. You can also use a bench scraper or dough cutter to help shape the dough into an even round or loaf.
Final Thoughts on How To Get Large Holes in Sourdough Bread
Sourdough is a delicious and complex type of bread that can be a little tricky to make and bake. Hopefully, by following these tips and paying attention to the details in this guide, you will be able to produce large holes in your sourdough loaves with ease.
Now that you know the most important steps to creating large holes in your sourdough bread, pay attention to flour types, dough moisture, and starter quality. Don’t over-knead your dough and let it rise slowly as it bakes.
With a bit of experimentation, you will soon know how to bake amazing sourdough with large holes. Start baking today and see how your family and friends will react when they take their first bite of your perfect sourdough!