The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

When is it done?

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plevee's picture

When is it done?

I am about to bake my first attempt at a whole grain pumpernickel, namely the gorgeous Any Grain Sourdough from PiP's blog.

His recipe has a very long baking time - 1h 40m - at fairly high temperatures. This is much longer than  I usually bake for - the highest percentage of rye I have tried so far is 40% .

How does one judge when these very solid loaves sre done? The bread is covered, so it can't be seen. Is there a target temperature or some other method to decide?

Thanks in anticipation, Patsy

dghdctr's picture

Your loaf is "cooked" completely inside when it is between 200-210 degrees at its very center.  But that doesn't mean it has been baked long enough.  Sufficient browning would be an obvious requirement, but excess moisture can be a consideration as well.

The long bake time may be there to ensure that enough moisture has left the loaf for it to be stable and appetizing.  I'm guessing your pumpernickel is fairly dense.  A very dense loaf takes longer to bake on the inside, and it will lose excess moisture more slowly as well.

I'd stick with the recommended bake time and temperature unless you know for certain that they won't work.  As I suggested already, a thermometer can indicate if the loaf is no longer technically raw, but the crust and loaf moisture are important considerations as well.

-- Dan DiMuzio

MichaelH's picture

I bake at just over 6000', and my lean breads are to my liking at 200 degrees, in fact, I don't seem to be able to get them higher with normal bake times. Enriched breads usually come out about 190 to 193.

Does this agree with your experience?



Chuck's picture

To adjust "done" temperatures for altitude, just count backward from the boiling point of water (rather than forward from 0)  ...not exactly "right" but very close. (Most folks live close enough to sea level that doing this adjustment isn't worth the trouble. It does matter though for those folks who live at several thousand feet of altitude.)

At sea level, the boiling point of water is 212F, so the typical lean bread "done" range of 200F-210Fis re-expressed as from -12 to -2.

At 6000 feet, the boiling point of water is 200F. Using that same range (-12 to -2), the thermometer will read between 188F and 198F. 193F at 6000 feet is -7, equivalent at sea level to 212-7=205F.

plevee's picture

I am in a quandry additionally because people who have baked the Hamelman Horst Bendel loaf talk about 225 for >12 hours.

Thanks for the reply, I'll try the recipe as it stands first.


Chuck's picture

I've never seen anything else like the Horst Brendel recipe's uniqueness (and apparent authenticity) are what makes it so interesting. The original idea was the bakers could clean up for the day and stop stoking the oven fire, put the pumpernickel dough in, and go home for the night. The bread would "bake" all night as the oven cooled off. Next morning, they could take out fine loaves before restarting the oven fire for the day. (i.e. "done" was "next morning" rather than any specific temperature) I haven't come across hardly any suggestions of how to transfer specific elements of that recipe to other recipes. So my suggestion is when making some other pumpernickel recipe, don't worry about how Horst Brendel did it.