The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Temperature Stall

waldobaker's picture
waldobaker

Temperature Stall

I bake quite close to the Tartine method.  As you can see, I bake my loves "through" (crust fully caramelized).

When baking i find the temperature of the interior of the bread "stalls" at around 198 F.  It takes a considerable amount of time to get to 200 or just over.  I should mention that I am at 6000 ft. so the stall may occur at different temperatures at different altitudes.  

I also BBQ (smoke) and fully understand the "temperature stall" when cooking things like brisket.  That is now well understood and is part of the Maillard reaction.  I've never heard of that coming into play (the stall) while making bread.  Has anyone else noticed this "stall". If so, is it the produced by same reaction seen in meat?

 

Thanks,

Walt

 

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

It is due to the water and altitude. As long as there is water in something being baked it cannot get hotter than the temperature that water boils. The boiling off of the water keeps the temperature fairly constant. At 6000 ft that is going to be about 200F or so.  The crust is the exception which allows the maillard reaction and caramelization.

waldobaker's picture
waldobaker

Thanks for taking the time to answer Edo.  That's just what I thought (which is why I mentioned my altitude).  

Best,

Walt

Ford's picture
Ford

Perhaps this chart will help.

Altitude, ftBoiling point of water, °F
0' (0m)212 °F (100 °C)
500' (152m)211.1 °F (99.5 °C)
1,000' (305m)210.2 °F (99 °C)
2,000' (610m)208.4 °F (98 °C)
5,000' (1524m)203 °F (95 °C)
6,000' (1829m)201.1 °F (94 °C)
8,000' (2438m)197.4 °F (91.9 °C)
10,000' (3048m)193.6 °F (89.8 °C)
12,000' (3658m)189.8 °F (87.6 °C)
14,000' (4267m)185.9 °F (85.5 °C)

Ford

dobie's picture
dobie

When you bake bread at 10,000 feet altitude and it only reaches (at most) an internal temp of 193.6 F, is it as fully baked as it would be at sea level with a 212 F maximum internal?

Thanks - dobie

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

I can't say that I have ever tried this but based on a couple things I think I can answer - yes. Cooking/baking is a combination of time and temperature. Usually we use higher temperatures to get the heat to the center of what we are baking without it taking forever. If you use a lower temperature and bake it long enough you should get there. That is the idea behind sous-vide.  

The other piece that makes me think you could probably get there is that people are baking bread in crock pots. They usually max out at 200F and usually are more in the 190-195F range. But with a longer bake, bread emerges. I have also read of test "baking" a loaf using sous-vide at 190F and while it had no crust or any of the great flavor and look enhances we all strive for, it was indeed baked through.

Ford's picture
Ford
gerhard's picture
gerhard

Just some random thoughts on the subject.  Have never baked at high altitude but one thing to remember the boiling point of pure water is 212˚F but the water in bread would be a solution of water and a bunch of soluble ingredients which would raise the boiling point.  I would guess you would get greater oven spring as more liquid goes to the vapour phase at a lower temperature, would it be enough that the bread collapses before the crumb firms up?  I don't know.  I spent a week in Colorado this summer and the coffee didn't seem particularly bad even though I have always been told that the water should be above 200˚ F and ideal at 205˚F but obviously in Creede and Ouray Colorado the water would not have reached that temperature.

Not much of an answer just more questions.

Gerhard

 

waldobaker's picture
waldobaker

Thanks Gerhard.  Now I have to start worrying about my coffee!

w

waldobaker's picture
waldobaker

Thanks for the comments all.

First, I do some sous-vide cooking Edo, and I don't think it appropriate for bread as the formation of a good crust, at least for the loaves I make, is critical.  Yet, in a sense, I do for a while cook in a "crock pot".  By that I mean I have stopped cooking in my wood fired oven and moved to using cast iron covered pots (as recommended by Chad at Tartine) which, like a crock pot, keeps humidity up for the first part of the bake.  The last part of the bake is done out of the pot so as to caramelize the crust.

The fact is that you guys have confirmed my suspicion that this is the Maillard effect.  And, no, the bread does not stop cooking when it reaches the boiling point of water; it begins to sweat.  (Just like when we sweat, the water evaporating from our skin has cooling properties.)  While the crust is sweating the temperature climb during the bake stalls, but does not stop.  This is exactly what happens during longer BBQ/smoking.  

If i pull the bread at the boiling point (stall) for my altitude, the interior is still slightly gummy.  I have to wait for the water in the crust to finally evaporate and seal itself for the temp to begin to once again climb.  That takes extra time.  What does seem to help is leaving it in the pot for longer (at 450 F) rather than baking it open for longer.  

Anyway,  I get the interior I am after once I get to just over 200 F.  It is a small difference between 198 and just over 200, and it can take 15 minutes to rise 2 and 1/2 degrees, but, it is worth the wait.

I do remember when just learning to smoke meats like brisket, I, like a lot of other beginners, panicked at the "stall".  If  any of you are interested Google "bbq temperature stall" or anything close to that.

Interesting discussion, best to all.

Edo Bread's picture
Edo Bread

The person who did the experiment of sou-vide bread agrees with you. They basically said  - it works, this proves the point but makes terrible bread. Which is no surprise. Living at almost your altitude I have noticed that slight different in temperature and time that you mention. But. once you get used to it bread, coffee.. all can be made quite good!

dobie's picture
dobie

Edo Bread - I understand what you're saying and I would only add; while it is not bread 'as we know it' (certainly not in this forum), it is certainly cooked as you've said. It is just not baked (I think 'baked' requires heated air to surface contact). But I agree, it is still bread.

And just to keep all options open, who knows what bread one might make via sous vide or some hybrid of sous vide and baking techniques? I think it's all very interesting.

dobie

ps - BTW, is it 'in or on' this forum?

dobie's picture
dobie

Since this has evolved into a proper thread, let me backtrack a bit and say - waldobaker, those are some mighty fine looking loaves.

I'm also well familiar with the 'stall' in low and slow BBQ. I'm usually doing 9 lb pork shoulders (bone-in) between 215 and 235F. I've had the stall happen as low as 167 and as high as 187F internal. I don't know why the variable, but I no longer worry. It might be temp, mass, moisture or fat content of the cut (or perhaps other forces at play) but it does happen, always.

I had no idea a bread bake would experience the same phenomenon, but it makes sense and 'sweating' seems a good explaination.

Ford - thank you for the altitude/boiling water temp chart. See what you stirred up?

gerhard - re: 'Not much of an answer just more questions'. More questions are good. That's the point of this forum I think. I am 'enriched' by thinking about questions I might not have thought of to ask.

In particular I think you bring up a good point about the boiling point of water (212F at sea level) as compared to water combined with other things (flour, etc). I know that water and salt diluted freeze at a lower temperature than water alone. I seem to remember that water with salt boils at a lower temperature than water alone, but I'm not sure (I will do the simple test in a bit). As to all the other possible chemical compounds of water and other typical bread ingredients, I have no idea - but I am curious.

So what I'm taking from this discourse so far is, that at the higher altitudes you bake, the longer you need to reach the proper internal temp.

My remaining question then would be, if you were at 1400 ft and the boiling point of water is 185.9F (and assuming for a moment that gerhard is wrong about water and other ingredient compounds raising the potential temp) and since the bread would never reach the often quoted optimum temp of 195-205F, would that bread be any more or less cooked (gummy interior) than if I were to bake the same dough to 195F at sea-level? I understand you could give it more time, but until you totally dehydrated it and moved towards its 'smoke point', it would not reach 195F. Would it be the same as if I baked it to 185.9 internal at sea level (which is my current altitude)?

dobie

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Boiling point of solutions increases according to Wikipedia.  Anyway I experince  daily with sugar. 

Gerhard

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling-point_elevation

dobie's picture
dobie

Gerhard -

Thanks for your post and the link.

You are absolutely right and I was absolutely wrong when I said 'I seem to remember that water with salt boils at a lower temperature than water alone...' (altho it does freeze at a lower temp). Interesting stuff.

(all temps are in Farenhiet)

I confirmed the link's report by boiling 250 g tap water (about 1 cup, typical of a 50% hydration dough with 500 g flour) and recorded temperatures of between 211.5 and 212.5 on my thermapen.

I then added 12 g salt and recorded temps between 213.5 and 214.5. This was a kitchen test, not a lab test, but at the maximum salinity of any bread I would bake, there was clearly a 2 degree increase in the temp of salinated water.

So at 14000 feet, one might expect that water salinated to that percentage would reasonably be expected to attain a temp of about 188.

That is still quite below the often stated goal temp of 195-205 for bread. So, I'm wondering if bread baked under those conditions could ever reach those goal temps without being dehydrated. And if so, what would the difference be?

Again, I bake at sea-level, so I don't know. I'm just curious.

Since apparently the highest point on earth is app: 8800 ft (Mount Everest) and according to Fords chart, 8800 ft altitude would have app: a 196 boiling temp, that would already put it within the oft stated parameters of 195 to 205 recommended for bread, even without the addition of salt .

So, I suppose that unless we are baking in 'Space' or near, the point is moot. You can bake bread to within 195 and 205 any where on earth (even without salt).

Perhaps I should get in touch with NASA.

dobie