The Fresh Loaf

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Desired dough temperature

bread_to_be's picture

DDT in Peter Reinhart's Whole Wheat Bread

July 24, 2011 - 6:34am -- bread_to_be

In Peter Reinhart's method of making 100% whole wheat bread, there is a resting time of 5 minutes after kneading followed by a final 1 minute of kneading to strengthen the gluten. If I want to take desired dough temperature reading, should it be taken before or after the rest?

I notice that desired dough temperature is usually recommended as about 78º F. But if my weather is 85º F, can the DDT be higher but using less yeast AND what should it be?

Guys, I need and appreciate your help.

davidg618's picture

Desired DoughTemperature (DDT), at best only a gross-estimate of the temperature of a dough at the beginning of bulk fermentation (ref.: ) is too often ignored, or given only a brief word or two of non-specific, and often ambiguous explanation. (See, for example, BBA's Pain a l'Ancienne: this is the best I've found, and still, in my opinion, using ice-water is ambiguous in specificity, and lacks complete explanation, of effects and side-effects.) 

Within the usual range of factors, i.e., the newly mixed dough's temperature, Ph, hydration, and ingredients present; dough temperature, more than any other factor, controls yeast and bacteria activity. Secondly, dough temperature is hard to change, and especially hard to change in a controlled way. Thirdly--and not an issue, but a reality--the home baker has more direct control over temperature than any other factor. (Ingredients is, of course, the second, but you can't turn a brioche into a ciabatta.)

Addressing the latter issue first, having recently built a proofing box, early experiences supported my concern that a dough's initial temperature would dominate the dough's average temperature for hours. Stated differently, the heat energy in a light bulb, or heating pad--typical heat sources in homemade proofing boxes--is low. Furthermore, the transfer of heat into a dough mass (a complex function of the dough's mass, surface area, temperature differences, and its specific heat) is slow.

This is not a bad thing. If the heat source is cranked up too high, undesired side-effects will likely occur; e.g., the dough's surface will dry out, yeast cells at or near the dough's surface will produce gas at a reduced rate. The solution to avoiding both these problems is straight forward: Set the DDT to the temperature desired for bulk fermentation. If your going to proof at 76°F (the most common temperature invoked by bread book formulae), 80*F (Tartine Bread). 82.5°F (Zojurishi bread machine pre-heat, and proof temperature most favorable to yeast growth and activity), or 90°F (best temperature favoring bacterial vs. yeast growth in most sourdough cultures.) adjust the mixes' water temperature to reach a DDT as close as possible to the intended bulk fermenting temperature. Conversely, 40°F if you're going to retard the dough in the refrigerator, and finish proofing at room temperture, or 55°F if your using a wine cooler--my preferred retarding temperature. Then your proofing box (or chiller) is maintaining the dough's initial temperature: a much less energetic job.

The first issue, also stated in a different way: why? What's the reason for a specific DDT? Flavor, Scheduling, or Texture? I can't think of a fourth reason, and texture is the most tenuous.  Nonetheless, know why you've chosen a proofing temperature, and choose accordingly. And, if your writing a breadbook, fully explain why you chose a specificied initial dough temperature, including its benefits and downers.

David G

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