The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Need help re final internal temperature for baguettes?

Nickisafoodie's picture

Need help re final internal temperature for baguettes?

A bit of backgroundL I've baked whole wheat loaves for many years in bread pans.  Near the end of the bake cycle I quickly insert a probe themomenter and take the loaves out of the oven when the internal temp is 201 degrees. The other day I made sourdough baguettes for the first time: 70% bread flour, 20% whole wheat and 10% rye.  68% hydration, 500 grams per loaf, about 14 inches long and 2 1/5 inch diameter when removed from oven.  Oven was heated for one hour at 470 degrees, bake was for 12 minutes.  My starter is maintained daily at room temp and was 100% hydration, and approx 20% of total build up.  Steam 2 times first 8 minutes.  So far, so good

Here is my conundrum: When I inserted my probe themomenter after 10 minutes,  I expedted to read 190 degrees or so indicating another 3-5 minutes or so of baking to get it to an internal temp of 201 degrees. It read 218 degrees at minute 10!  I fully inserted the probe into one end so a good portion was inserted and thus trying to avoid the heat of the oven registering the temp rather than the inside of the loaf.  The probe is  working as I later put it into boiling water and it registered 212 degrees.  Perhaps the slightly thinner ends were that hot?  Can they get that hot and still be moist inside?  And yet they were just starting to brown nicely not quite there yet, thinking they needed a few more minutes to brown.  A thump showed the ends sounded amost done and the slightly thicker middle needed a few minutes more.  I removed the probe, let them bake another few minutes and out they came.  I thought all breads were done at 201-205 or so degrees.  My oven is accurate and I also have a themometer in the oven at all times.

The good news is they came out great, slashes spread nice, moist and airy crumb, great flavor and will keep well but I can't help think totally accidental.  I will pursue yeastless sourdough without yeast, another new adventure in baking.  Should I not bother with themometer and use the  thump method to judge whether they are done?  Internal temp targets?  Any feedback on others experience would be appreciated!  Thank you all...

Chausiubao's picture

I first learned how to judge doneness by thermometer, but I think touch and feel is far more accurate then a thermometer can be.

Operating off the philosophy that it is extremely difficult to overbake bread, I aim for a good color, then I thump the bottoms and listen for a hollow sound.

Additionally, where the scores have opened up, I push on the crust, if there is give, then I'll bake it a little longer, if there is no give, its likely done.

So try to bake it by feel and put away that thermometer! First look for color, then look for how much give the lightest part of the crust has.

--Gabriel Leung

flournwater's picture

I've learned that Gabriel's method works well.  Initially, I used internal temperature exslusively to judge when my bread was done.  I found that I didn't like anything the registered under 200 degrees and that the hotter the internal temperature got the better the bread was  -  within reason of course.  I still use my thermometer as a basic guide, but the decision as to when the bread is done is made with a push on the crust and the texture of what Gabriel describes as  "where the scores have opened up".  I can't describe the precise point but, when I'm certain I've baked it sufficiently, I turn off the oven and leave it open with the bread stlll inside and the oven off until it is cool enough to handlel with bare hands.

Mise En Place's picture
Mise En Place

I always worry about getting an inaccurate reading by hitting an air pocket with my Thermapen thermometer so rather than doing several replicates and making my bread look like swiss cheese, I learned to do by feel as the above posters said.


Nickisafoodie's picture

I very much appreciate your feedback and techniques - I can trust my senses and tune into the Force!!  Thanks All!

dghdctr's picture

Then you don't have a significant problem.

First of all, let your bread bake at least until, for whatever reason, you think it might be done, and don't interrupt that initial period.  For a 12-oz, maybe 12-14 inch long baguette baked at 450-475 degrees, that's often 18-22 minutes.  But your oven has it's own characteristics, so defer to your own judgement.

Crust crispness/hardness, crust color, and remaining water in the loaf are at least as important as the "doneness" of the interior.  Just because the starches have gelled and the proteins have coagulated (solidified), that doesn't require you to pull the bread from the oven.  An internal temp of 200-210F isn't a reason for serious concern, but anything lower might be a good reason to leave the bread in the oven.

There aren't many pros who use thermometers to double check doneness, but I am one who does occasionally.   That's just as insurance in case the loaves may have browned too quickly -- I just want to be certain that the inside isn't raw when the outside looks done.  Things like brioche, kugelhopf, stollen, and even challah sometimes brown too quickly outside before the very center of the loaf has "cooked." Which -- BTW -- means I should lower my baking temperature next time. 

I think pros who object to bakers using thermometers are reacting to the overt and over-simplified dependence on a probe to make your decisions for you.  It ain't that simple.  Thermometers are just tools. 

The 200-210F reading tells you the insides have been cooked, but the factors I mentioned above, such as crispness, color, and loaf moisture have to be addressed as well to get optimal results.  Don't let the probe make your decision for you.

--Dan DiMuzio