No Wholes


I'm making some really good bread.  I share it with others who live in my apartment block and they love it, but I'm really disappointed.   I get no wholes in the baked bread.  What am I doing wrong?

368 users have voted.


mlucas 2011 February 1

Hi, can you share your recipe? That will make it easier for others to help you.


Holes come from higher hydration (higher ratio of water to flour), as well as gentler handling during shaping (since the holes are bubbles you don't want to pop them).

HopesHope 2011 February 8

Without giving a recipe you did help me, thank you.  


I am getting wholes, not big ones like I see in some of the pictures, but I'm getting there.    It's all about gentle handling during the shaping...


The Bread is awesome though, after a months time I got the sourness living in the starter now, and it's soo delicious. 


I actually have 2 starters going, one I keep in the fridge and use if I don't want the sourness in the bread, and then the one I use constantly that is sour.    I bake about twice a week now.  

Jane Williams's picture
Jane Williams 2011 May 17

I'm getting small holes and use 100% hydration.  Still feeding every day and baking about 3 times a week.  I'm not going to worry about the lack of holes as long as I get great taste.  Have done a rye loaf, nice crumb but small holes.  But the taste has made me proud.  I learn slowly but at least I am learning.

Merrid 2011 May 18

You are using 100% hydration in your starter, but that's not quite the same as the hydration level of the dough you're making bread with. A high hydration dough would be ciabatta at around the 70% plus mark - other sourdough breads would be more like 60-65%.

For large holes, it's the hydration in the dough that matters most (leaving aside the handling), not the level in the starter. The level in the starter affects how you need to treat the dough for the end result you want. The hydration level in the dough is based on the total water to flour ratio in the dough recipe, including the proportions in the starter - there are some calculators elsewhere on this site, and most of the recipes give a figure so you can have an idea what you're dealing with.

But don't let that stop you enjoying the bread you're making now!

HopesHope 2011 May 17

Some breads I have nice holes, and some breads I don't, but like you I love the flavour.  Right now I'm addicted to Spelt flour[which is called the other wheat]  it is soo delicious.    I try to use a different flour each month to test the flavour it's wonderful...


I use to feed my starter "which i call girl', twice a day, but now she lives in the fridge, and gets fed once a week.  She's very strong and willing to please everytime. 


I too learn slow Janey, but I learned.   I just got a digital scale and learning to use it.   I don't have the fancy baskets for proofing yet, but I'll get them.   I made an apricot almond sourdough bread, which was sooo good, great for toast and french toast.. yumm!    I also made 2 loaves of bread with cornmeal in them... I'm finishing that up now,and that was really good.


I will also be using sourdough in cakes and cookies as well. 


Take care...





HopesHope 2011 May 19

Even when I make Ciabatta I don't get big holes, like I see with others breads.  I follow the recipe to a T.    I just got a scale and beginning to use it, but even then I always sift the flour. 


I'm not concerned with the big holes, but I do have holes large enough for butter or jam to nestle in and be delicious with every bite.    The people I make bread for, raves about the bread.  It's good for toast, sandwiches, and french toast..   What more can I ask for? 


you take care also...and thank you



Merrid 2011 May 19

I prefer larger holes for a more crumpet-like texture; others prefer a denser texture to trap the butter etc on top of the slice.

The other things than can affect hole formation is the handling during bulk fermentation and the shaping done to form the loaf before the final proof. Sifting the flour doesn't make a lot of difference for bread making since the way the dough is worked will negate any air added during sifting. However, if you're using stone ground or home ground flour, sifting will still help with removing any foreign matter - it just doesn't add lightness in the way it does for cake making.

HopesHope 2011 May 19

I don't sift flour for the added lightness, like for cakes I sift it because because flour gets so compressed and you use more than what is necessary.


I use stone ground,  and I am searching around for a home flour mill.  I have found that it would less expensive to buy the grains, and mill them yourself, than to purchase already milled flour, and you only mill what you need.  Grains are also easier to store [in the freezer] than sacks of flour.


Maybe I can learn more about what to do with bulk fermentation and shaping, and see if that makes a difference in my bread...


Thank you again Merrid



Merrid 2011 May 19

That's the main reason why we always recommend weighing ingredients. Weighing is much more accurate than using a volumetric meausre, so your results will be much more consistent. You don't need an expensive scale but a small digital scale that measures in 1g increments up to 2 or 3 kg will be quite sufficient, and an investment well worth making. In Australia we usually give dry ingredient measures in terms of weight anyway, especially for flour and sugar.

HopesHope 2011 May 19

I got a scale now, and I'm trying to figure out how to properly use it.  The pamphlet that came with it, only shows how to turn it on and how to use grams or pounds and ounces.    I believe I subtract the container the flour  being weighed in from the total amount being used to get the correct amount of ingredients weighed.  However, I have to admit, I don't  follow how many grams or cups the recipe calls for, I use more my senses to tell me what is enough.   Sometimes depending on the weather humidity etc, the recipes can be wrong and you use either way to much or way to little.


Most of the Recipes I like in baking bread are in cups or ounces and need to be converted, and when I convert the ingredients in cups is way to much in grams, and I tend to revert back to where I'm comfortable and that is using my senses to tell me what is enough.


Maybe I will never be a professional at baking bread, Merrid but what I do works for me. 


Can you talk to me about bulk fermentation and shaping the loaves.


Thanks Merrid, I appreciate your help!

Merrid 2011 May 20

Most digital scales have a tare or zeroing function to help with that - you just put your container on the scale and set the scale to zero. Then anything you put into the container is nett weight, which is what you want. And most digital scales I've seen have both metric and imperial measures - as you've said yours does - so you don't necessarily need to convert your recipes in ounces to grams. You haven't said whether yours is digital or analogue, but even analogue scales usually have an adjustment wheel to zero the scale in the same way.

If you think on conversion that your cup measures generate "way too many grams", I should think there's something wrong with your conversion maths! It would be better to measure out a cup the way you do it, and then dump the flour onto the scale to find a weight measurement for it, and use that conversion in future.

And even at the extremes of climate there should not be so much adjustment required to make the stated recipes "way too much" one way or the other. It sounds to me as if your expectations may be wrong, which causes the confusion.


Of course, you can go on baking bread any way you like - people have done it for thousands of years by feel. But you initially said that the bread you're turning out is NOT exactly how you'd like it, and if you really want to get some consistency in your bread making to turn out the bread you want, the fastest way to learn that is to be a little scientific about it. You may think the dough needs a lot of adjustment because that's how it "feels" to you, but the point I'm making is that what you "feel" is not turning out the end result you want - so your "feeling" obviously needs to be retrained.


As for the rest, if you go to the beginner's forum you will see a link to SourDom's beginners blog, where you will find some very detailed instructions, with pictures, of the bulk fermentation and shaping phases.

HopesHope 2011 May 20

I do have a digital scale.  


I'll try a recipe by following it to a T and see what I get.   I believe that doing things by "feel" is the best way to live actually.    When I initially wrote this if you look at the date it was January, and since then I have baked a fair share of bread since then and have gotten better at it.   I do get holes but not as large as some as I have seen here in the forum.  In January I was disappointed, now in June, not so much.


I'll find SD's beginners blog nd read it. 


Thank You Merrid for your kindness and responding...



Merrid 2011 May 20

I'm glad you're now seeing some improvement on want you want to achieve - and do follow the tips in SourDom's blog. You may find that's the last little bit that finally gives you the result you're after.

HopesHope 2011 May 20

I do enjoy baking, not only bread, but lots of things.


I eat for my health, I have M.S. and where it affects me more, is my digestive tract.   Since I've been making sourdough bread, I can tell I'm digesting food better to the point that I'm losing inches, but not pounds yet.  I'm also feeling better.  I eat no other type of bread but sourdough, what I'm saying is baking this kind of bread is now my lifestyle.


I will read SD blog and make notes and then report back about the results..  IF I had a camera I would take pictures but that is not possible at the moment.


Thank you once again for your kindness..


Take care

Post Reply

Already a member? Login