I have seen someone asking how to get big holes in a bread? and then someone else asking how to get small holes in the bread?

Why would someone like big holes and the other person small holes?

Question: Is it all about the looks? Big holes look fancier than the smaller ones OR do the size of the holes impact the taste and texture of the breads?

  • Big holes = more butter!
    – citizen
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 9:26
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    I believe this is not a duplicate because the referenced question asks for how to manage the holes in bread; this question asks why is that an interesting or important feature.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 13:43

2 Answers 2


There are lots of styles of bread, which of course different people have different preferences for, and which lend themselves to different applications.

First, what do the holes indicate? The holes are pockets or cells in the gluten network in the loaf--so the stronger the gluten network, the larger the holes can expand during proofing. similarly, the more active the yeast, or the longer the proof, the larger the holes will have the potential to expand.

So large holes tend to be found in breads with strong gluten networks, which have longer proofing times. These loaves will have chewier texture, and yeastier flavor, which can be very delicious.

For other applications, such as a typical US-style sandwich bread, the desire is for a more tender product, which is indicative of less gluten development; also, large holes would let spreads or condiments soak through the bread more easily, which is not so desirable in a sandwich to be eaten out of hand. So these loaves are typically ones with smaller holes.

So the holes are either a factor themselves (as in sandwich bread), or indicative of other qualities of the loaf (as in so-called artisan style bread)--but either way, they are a very visible indicator of the nature of the loaf, and so getting the desired holes will help get the desired loaf qualities.

I am sure there are many more qualified bread experts who will give you a more detailed answer...

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    Agreed. Smaller-holed loaves, like 'standard' sandwich bread, are almost always enriched with fat and milk, which has the dual effect of tenderising the bread and reducing hole size. Larger-holed loaves, for example pain a l'ancienne or ciabatta, are often very lean with little or no fat in them at all, and are subsequently also much chewier. Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 11:16
  • @ElendilTheTall thanks for clarifying, in my first comment I had understood vice versa. Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 14:41
  • @ElendilTheTall Many traditional breads have small (or "non visible") holes but not enriched with fats. Such as this one or this one Spanish breads which have quite a chewy crumb
    – J.A.I.L.
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 16:05
  • True, but they are exceptions rather than the norm, and I note they go through a special process to achieve that density of crumb. Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 16:38
  • Now I wish I read Spanish--and no, I don't think google translate does the job.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 16:40

The size of the holes in bread is largely due to the water content of the bread, although the yeast used and the method used also makes a difference. In general the more water in the bread the bigger the holes.

There's been more than one discussion on this exact topic before, here is one that has some excellent information.

  • in general the more water in the bread the bigger the holes. So why should I put lots of water in the bread? What would it give me besides big holes? Why would I want big holes? Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 9:30
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    @AnishaKaul i think your answer is going to depend on the application of the bread. If it's sandwich bread you may not want a dense chewy texture since you want to focus on the ingredients inside. But if you want to emphasize the bread a chewy big bold bread may be what your looking for and therefore bigger holes and probably bigger flavor.
    – Brendan
    Commented Jan 9, 2013 at 18:30
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    @Anisha Kaul: This style of bread is nearly always used for one of two things: 1. Sandwiches of all sorts. 2. Served plain with butter on the side as an accompaniment to other foods. You might for example get a small basket of sliced bread and a small bowl of butter when ordering a soup in a restaurant. Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 9:04
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    @KristinaLopez: You mean baguettes? If so, then yes, baguettes belong in this category. At least when they are properly made, which usually means they're made with sourdough. Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 9:08
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    But of course the flavour does not come from the holes. The flavour and the holes both come from the method of baking. High hydration, good strong (high protein) flour, long proofing (rising) times are some of the factors that contribute. Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 9:13

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