How to Make Big Holes in Bread


Big holes can be made in bread by slightly altering the dough recipe or cutting into the fully baked product. Yeast releases carbon dioxide gas as it consumes the sugars in bread dough. Elastic dough can trap these bubbles of gas and create wide-open spaces inside the loaf. Some recipes call for an baked bread slice or loaf to be hollowed out. The new cut-out space in the bread can be filled with other edible items for a creative presentation.

Things You'll Need

  • Large oven-safe bowl
  • Cooling rack
  • Bread knife
  • Ring mold, round cookie cutter or empty metal can

Recipe Alterations

  • Turn on the oven light. Place an oven thermometer on the center rack and close the oven door. Grease the insides of a large oven-safe bowl with butter, shortening or cooking oil.

  • Double the amount of active yeast and sweetener in the dough recipe you are using. Sourdough and French bread recipes usually generate the largest air holes. Add 2 tbsp. of honey, brown sugar or white sugar, if no sweetener is called for in the original recipe.

  • Knead the dough gently for five minutes. Kneading incorporates the ingredients evenly and increases the elasticity of the dough. Over-kneading can cause the dough to tear easily and become tough.

  • Place the dough in the center of the greased bowl. Slide the bowl of dough onto the center rack when the oven is between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the oven onto its lowest setting for a five-minute heat blast, if the oven light does not get it up to the temperature zone.

  • Wait four hours while the dough doubles in size. Increase the temperature inside the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake according to the times suggested in the recipe. The high heat cooks the bread quickly to set the big holes in place.

  • Turn the bowl over to eject the bread while it is still warm. Place the loaf on a cooling rack for one hour. Slice with a bread knife to reveal the large gas bubble holes.

Hollow Bread

  • Slice the baked bread into 1½-inch-thick slices for individual servings or leave the loaf whole to stuff the entire thing. The classic dish "egg in a basket," also known as "toad in a hole," uses a hollowed slice of bread to contain a cooking egg. Whole loaves are often hollowed out for soups or dips to be put inside.

  • Twist a ring mold or cookie cutter from side-to-side as you press it all the way into the baked bread. Pull out the round piece of bread inside the ring mold. Cut both lids off a metal can, remove the label and clean it thoroughly to make a homemade ring mold.

  • Push the ring mold or can into the loaf until the end comes within 2 inches of the back end. Pull out all the bread surrounded by the cutter. Pull out the ring-mold cutter carefully.

  • Heat the hollowed bread loaf inside a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes to dry the interior. Lightly toast slices of bread with holes to make them more rigid. Drying the inside of the big hole in the bread helps to keep it from getting soggy when the filling is added.

Tips & Warnings

  • Spray ring molds, cookie cutters and empty cans with cooking oil spray if they are sticking to the bread.
  • Oddly shaped loaves can be started with the ring-mold cutter to give them a uniform opening. The remainder of the hollowing out process can be done with a bread knife and fingers.
  • Place the blade of the bread knife along the side of the loaf so the tip is 2 inches from the back end. Press your thumb on the side of the blade at the front of the loaf to mark the maximum depth. Insert the knife into the loaf and keep your thumb in place to act as a distance guide.

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  • Photo Credit Tin image by Paul Sparrow from
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