The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Internal temps for Levain

the breadman's picture
the breadman

Internal temps for Levain

I mistakenly fell asleep on a levain I had going in the oven and woke up to the sound of my thermometer probe buzzing away. I had recently gotten into the habit of sticking a probe into my loaves close to the finishing time recommended in the recipes, you know, just for 'fun'. I thought I had to take loaves out of the oven around the 190f. mark but this loaf was up to 211f. Thinking I had baked a brick in my own oven I let it cool and expected the worse. Other than a crust slightly darker than I was used to the loaf was AWESOME! Really strong cereal flavors, everything popped. It even smelled strongly of toasted grains opposed to the general 'bread scent' I was used to.

It was like the difference between raw and toasted nuts.

Is there an explanation for this? I've since started baking all my levains to higher internal temperatures.



dmsnyder's picture

Well ... I suppose you can, but I take the recommended internal temperatures for breads as a minimum, not a maximum. I have numerous recipes that say to bake for 5-10 minutes more after you reach the recommended temperature, or bake until you can't stand it any more, or the like. 

Besides, recent research suggests Americans don't get enough sleep. ;-) 


Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Most Americans seem to be afraid of a dark crust.  "It's burned!" they cry when it's a golden brown.  I had bread returned to the bakery because the customer said it was burned... it wasn't.


Calvel said you can't burn bread.  Having trained a number of night bakers, I know you can.  However, as you discovered, most of the taste is in the crust and it has to be baked to be released.


Calvel suggested that you bake each batch 5 minutes longer than the batch before.  Note the changes in flavors.  At some point, you'll go too far.  At that point, you back off until you're happy.


Also, I've said it before, baking is a balancing act.  Heat browns the crust, time in the oven bakes the crumb.  Ideally, you want both done at the same time.  They are somewhat interdependent, but you can juggle the time and temperature to get the crust and crumb you want.  I try to avoid cranking the oven 100 degrees hotter, putting the bread in, and then turning the oven down 10 minutes later.  It makes it hard to go from batch to batch - it's an oven, not a sports car, it doesn't accelerate well.  But, with a bit of patience you can find the right combination.