fools crumb

What Is “Fools Crumb” And How To Deal With It?

If you bake sourdough now and then, you may have encountered Fool’s Crumb in your baking adventures without even realizing it. Just like its whimsical name, this weird structure of sourdough creates much confusion among bakers. 

So, what’s a fool’s crumb and why does this happen?

Fools crumb is a particular structure inside the sourdough where there are 3-4 big and 12-13 medium holes in the sourdough. It looks artistic to many bakers however, in this condition the bread tastes more gummy and dry. It happens due to not kneading or slashing the dough properly and using excessive yeast. 

I will discuss it more and how you can avoid it to achieve perfect baked goods every time. Keep reading. 

What Is Fool’s Crumb?

What Is Fool’s Crumb
Source: Reddit

Fool’s crumb is a specific type of crumb structure of the sourdough where the sourdough has 3-4 big holes in it, especially on the top side. In a fool’s crumb sourdough, there are also around a dozen medium to small size significant holes. 

In this condition, you will also notice the bread has a pointy spike on it or the whole sourdough is pyramid shaped.

Is Fools Crumb A Good Thing?

Is Fools Crumb A Good Thing
Source: Breadtopia

Whether or not “Fool’s Crumb” is a good thing is a matter of personal preference. Some bakers find this crumb structure to be visually appealing and an indicator of a well-made loaf of sourdough bread.

However, although it looks super aesthetic and a good thing to show off to your other bakes friends, you don’t want it for your regular sourdough. 

This structure indicates a problem with the fermentation process. This could be due to a weak starter or under-fermentation during bulk fermentation. The resulting bread is usually dense, and gummy, and it lacks the desired texture and flavor.

What Causes The Fool’s Crumb In Sourdough?

There are various reasons why you will get the fool’s crumb or big holes in the sourdough. so, avoid these below-mentioned factors if you don’t want the fool’s crumb to happen and can make a perfect sourdough

Under Kneading The Dough:

When you knead the dough, you are working the gluten in the flour and creating a gluten mesh. This gluten mesh helps trap gas on the sourdough. If you don’t knead the dough properly, there won’t be much gluten mesh and the air trapping will be uneven, resulting in big holes in the dough. 

Excessive Flour During Shaping:

When shaping bread dough, it’s important to avoid using excessive flour. Excessive flour creates a barrier between the layers of dough and prevents them from sticking together. 

When the dough layers don’t stick together properly, air pockets can form between them during baking, resulting in large holes in the final product.

Giving Less Time for Fermentation:

After shaping the bread, you have to give the sourdough enough time to ferment. The yeast needs to burn through its energy properly before you put the bread in the oven. Otherwise, the yeast will still release gas more quickly once it is in the oven and will create too many air pockets.

Not Slashing The Bread:

If you don’t slash the bread before baking or the slash is not proper, the dough will not understand where to release the gas from. As a result, excessive gas will trap inside creating bog holes in your sourdough.

Slashing the sourdough properly is not as hard as slicing a flank steak, you just have to be a little careful. You can use the Happyyami slashing tool for a perfect slash in the bread. 

Not Using Hot Enough Oven:

When you bake bread, the high temperature of the oven causes the gasses created by the yeast to expand rapidly. It gives the sourdough a nice, even rise and a tender, chewy texture. If the oven is not hot enough, the gasses may not expand as quickly or evenly. It will lead to uneven rising and larger air pockets in the dough.

Highly Hydrated Dough:

The dough with high hydration levels is more difficult to handle. It can be harder to create the necessary tension to develop a strong gluten structure in this dough. Without a strong gluten structure, the dough can expand and rise more easily, leading to larger air pockets and holes in the finished bread. 

The perfect hydration level in sourdough is 55%. That means if you use 100 gm of flour, you need 55 gm of water. When there is too much water in the dough it becomes tacky dough that sticks to your finger. 

Excessive Use Of Yeast:

Using excessive yeast on the sourdough will cause more gas to produce on the bread. As a result, there will be larger holes in the bread.

Excessive Dough Temperature:

When the dough temperature is too high, it can accelerate the activity of the yeast in the dough. It causes the yeast to ferment more quickly than it should. This can lead to over-fermentation, where the dough becomes too gassy and loses its structure. 

As a result, the gas pockets in the dough can become larger and more irregularly shaped. It creates larger holes in the finished bread.

Excessive Dough Temperature
Source: Seasoned Advice

Not Enough Dough Tension While Shaping:

If the dough doesn’t have enough tension, the gas pockets in the dough can expand and merge together during the fermentation and baking process. As a result, larger holes will be created in the final bread.

It can also cause a flying crust to appear where the upper part of the bread is hollow. Which will make the bread even dry and gummy. 

How To Deal With Fool’s Crumb?

If you have got fool’s crumbs on your sourdough, take a picture and shop it off to your other baker-enthusiastic friends. However, about taste, you can’t do something about it. Try it with some fried egg as sourdough goes very well with them. 

If you don’t want a fool’s crumb in your bread from now on, follow the tips given below. 

  • Knead your dough properly. 
  • Use limited flour during shaping. 
  • Give proper fermentation time. 
  • Slash the bread properly.
  • Preheat the oven according to the recipe requirement. 
  • Don’t overhydrate the dough.
  • Use optimal yeast. 
  • Maintain proper dough temperature.
  • Maintain proper dough tension. 

Following these steps will help you get the perfect sourdough. And if you want the fool’s crumb to occur, just follow these factors which promote the big holes. And if you are lucky, you will get the perfect fool’s crumb on your bread. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How Do You Make Sourdough Bread Moister?

To make sourdough bread moister, instead of using only water use some milk with it. Adding fat like butter or oil can also help. Avoid over-baking the bread and try storing it in an airtight container to retain moisture.

How To Make Sourdough Sourer?

To make sourdough bread sourer, try fermenting the dough for a longer period of time. Also, using a stiffer sourdough starter, using heavier or whole grain dough, and  lowering the temperature during fermentation can also help develop a more tangy flavor.

Can You Add Vinegar To Sourdough Bread?

Yes, you can add vinegar to sourdough bread to help create a tangier flavor. It’s recommended to use no more than one tablespoon per loaf. The vinegar can be added directly to the dough or to the water used to mix the dough. You can also use lemon juice for the same result.


Here’s everything you had to know about fool’s crumb. Whether or not you achieve the elusive fool’s crumb, the most important thing is to enjoy the process of baking. Also, you get to savor the delicious taste of homemade sourdough bread which is a plus.

That’s all. Have a great day!

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