The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How To Tell When Loaf Is Fully Baked??

Crusty44's picture

How To Tell When Loaf Is Fully Baked??

Just started out.

Have a Dutch oven so 4th loaf was from a Jim Lahey recipe.

Very pleased with it.

A couple of earlier loaves from other books were under cooked slightly.

Hence my query - What methods do folk use to tell when the loaf is ready to come out of the oven?

I have been told about the the "bang on it with a spoon to see if it sounds hollow", but I haven't tuned my ear yet to what sounds "hollow"

The Lahey boule I stuck with a bamboo skewer & it came out clean, so I figured it was ready.

& it was, but not sure how much was luck.




Craig_the baker's picture
Craig_the baker

Get yourself a meat thermometer, one that goes up to 230F-250F. insert in the center from the bottom and take temp. I bake my bread out to 205-210F. Good luck!

Crusty44's picture

 Thanks for suggestion

Having difficulty visualizing your thermometer placement.

I have a BBQ meat thermometer that is wireless remote. ie, the probe is wired to a sender unit & receiver can be wherever one wants it.

To use the Dutch oven with the lid on for 1st 30 minutes I could have the wire snake out under the lid, then out through the oven door - but I am not sure if you are talking about this or a different type of meat thermometer?

& can't yet see how I could "insert in the center 'from the bottom", particularly when using a Dutch Oven.

Guidance appreciated



Frequent Flyer's picture
Frequent Flyer

..the motion.  I bake to the same temperature unless it's a sweet or enriched bread.  Then I bake to 190 to 200F.


jcking's picture


One thing you might try is the following: when you are taking bread out of your oven , give it a good squeeze, top and bottom, and get a sense of how much pressure you have to exert before the bread gives a bit of a crack (just tapping the top of the loaf tells you nothing, as that part got hard pretty early in the bake you do need to do a full squeeze). Then take the temperature. When the bread is cool and you eat it, you can now tell for sure if it is baked to your liking. If it is, then try to get a tactile imprint on what it felt like when you squeezed it. Keep doing that squeeze and thermometer testing for several bakes. Slowly you will begin to trust what your hands are feeling.


Fred Rickson's picture
Fred Rickson

Just a wonderful thermometer......for anything.

adri's picture

I never had this problem. At least not with nonpan-breads. For cakes, the thermometer method, already proposed by Craig and others works best.

Also the pinching and see if dough sticks method might work well with most types of bread. But because of the structure of bread, the outer parts and crust might strip of the inner part.

Also some breads with higher percentage of (coarsely groated) berries and high hydration (the loafs, that you cannot cut in the first 48 hours) will always stick when pinched.

But when in doubt, why not bake it for 10 minutes longer? The breads, especially the crust will get much aroma in this period of baking. And If you don't cut the breads warm, the underpressure while cooling down will get parts of this aroma to the crumb as well. This is true for rye breads but also for wheat. Just look at the fotos of breads from the now very popular tartine bakery. (Ok, they keep them in the oven maybe a bit too long, but still are selling quite well.).

Adrian's picture

An instant read thermometer is one of those Top 5 Essentials listed (along with a digital scale, bench knife, etc.) as required for serious bread baking in every book.  I don't cook meat so I don't know if a "meat thermometer" would work.  But a Taylor or GoodCook or other instant read, analog or digital, is a gotta have.  Easy to find at supermarkets, kitchen shops, BedBath&Beyond (probably) and of course Amazon. 

My unenriched breads come out at ~205˚F and enriched ones at ~195˚F, with thermometer thurst deep into the crumb.  When I test and they're 5-10˚F below those targets, 5-10 more minutes always does the trick.


Mark Sealey's picture
Mark Sealey

I can't recommend the Thermapen too highly… useful for lots else as well.

(They have an 'open-box' sale on at the moment… second week in February, 2014.)