The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Effects of dough temperature

foolishpoolish's picture

Effects of dough temperature

OK I'm in pondering mode... 

Apart from fermentation time (and the indirect effects that this has on acidity levels, breakdown of starches etc.), I can't think of any other reasons why dough temperature should affect the quality of bread. 

I'm particularly interested to learn if dough temperature has a direct effect on higher temperatures favour elasticity or extensibility? 

Perhaps dough temperature affects enzyme activity...and therefore protease....hence the elasticity/extensibility....

Perhaps certain amylases are more efficient at higher temperatures and therefore different sugars are available...important for sourdough since lactobaciili metabolise sugars differently to yeast...?

Do particular flours have specific 'ideal' dough temperatures...and if so, why? It's all a mystery to me!

As always, any information and help is much appreciated.





gavinc's picture

Proper control of dough temperature will go a long way to a obtaining great consistent results.  The correct temperature encourages good gas production from the yeast (for loaf volume), and good flavour development from the lactobacilli.

Suggested temperature range of 75 to 78F (24 to 26C approx.).




SteveB's picture

FP, as you surmised, temperature has a direct effect on enzyme (amylase, protease, etc.) activity.  That's one of the reasons why firm starters tend to become "gloppy" quicker at higher temperatures; the increased protease activity degrades the gluten faster.


Susan's picture

I really did need that tidbit of information. Now I know it's not me. Yahoo!

Susan from San Diego

SteveB's picture

Susan, if the protease activity in your starter is too great, there are two things you might try; refreshing and keeping the starter at a lower temperature (I like to keep mine at around 72°F... basement temperature in the summer.  I don't refrigerate my starter.) or adding a bit of salt when refreshing.


LindyD's picture

FP, do you have Hamelman's Bread? He discusses dough temperature at pages 382-385, noting that controlling the temp offers benefits in both fermentation and flavor, as well as consistency in producing high quality bread.

He notes: "After all, with something so emphatically alive as bread dough, we must do all we can to keep the billions of toiling microorganisms happy. And we do so by providing them a temperature that encourages good gas production from the yeast (for loaf volume), and at the same time good flavor develoment from the lactobacilli."

Apparently 75F to 78F is best for wheat-based breads.




foolishpoolish's picture

The range 75 to 78 is typical of the final temperature that I acheive with room temperature ingredients when making bread.  Of course I mix by hand so I guess there is less of a problem with friction from mixing.

I'm sure I read an excerpt somewhere - translation from Raymond Calvel's 'le gout du pain' that indicated an lower ideal temperature - somewhere in the region of 71 to 73....strange.  

So it seems fairly clear that there are enzymatic and time-related effects from dough temperature...but what about gluten and crumb texture?  

I can't help thinking the type of flour plays an important part in determining the 'ideal temperature'....I think Dan Lepard has written about using cooler water for mixing softer flours...Of course I'm not a flour connoisseur and I'm not fortunate enough to have the same exposure that the experts have to different flour types. Sadly I don't have Hamelman's 'Bread' as a reference...although I'm considering it as the next book on my list to find, along with a reasonably priced translation (hah!) of 'Taste of Bread'.

For now I'm happy with sticking at the lower end of the 75-78 range.  I've never gone out of my way to control the temperature. I don't do the calculations for water just usually ends up in the right ball park. Granted, that's not a very professional approach...but then again, perhaps it's something that I, as a home baker do not need to be so concerned about.

More thoughts, information...please keep it coming :)

Many thanks, 





plevee's picture

Hi Steve, can you explain why the hydration of the starter would change the response of the enzyme to changes in temperature?

foolishpoolish's picture

Sorry to jump in here but I don't think hydration changes enzyme response to *temperature*. However higher hydration does affect (aid) enzyme activity in general. 



SteveB's picture

FP has it right.  At a given temperature, the hydrolysis will proceed faster in the wetter starter than in the firm one.  For a given pair of wet and firm starters, an increase in temperature should not speed up the hydrolysis preferentially in one starter over the other.  It's just that the increased rate of hydrolysis would be more noticeable in the firm starter over the wet one.


dougal's picture

My understanding was that for dough, (not starter or anything else - just fermenting/rising dough) control of the temperature of fermentation allowed a control of the balance between yeast and enzyme action (by controlling the time the fermentation takes).

At a lower temperature, the yeast is slowed more than the enzymes, and the resulting longer time of 'rise' allows the enzymes (particularly the amylases) more time to get more work done, resulting in those red-brown crusts that we are familiar with on "retarded" loaves. However, those pesky proteases are one factor in determining a maximum realistic time for fermentation. Go on fermenting too long, and they will weaken the gluten unaccepably.

Conversely, higher fermentation temperature accelerates the yeast more than the enzymes, so a hotter and shorter fermentation results in less total enzyme action - and less flavour complexity.


As Hamelman indicates (page 15), the temperature chosen is a compromise between the demands for production efficiency (maximum gas production rate from yeast is at over 80F) and for flavour.

And remember that long retardation (ie overnight low temperature proofing) can be very helpful to production schedules as well as flavour development!

foolishpoolish's picture

Certainly when I first read about pain a l'ancienne in BBA, the 'enzymatic' benefits  of cold (retarded) fermentation were implied, if not fully explained. Crucially, using cold water in the mixing stage allowed enzymes to do their work without the yeast reaching full activity where presumably they would be digesting the sugar as fast as it was being freed up. This thinking is further reinforced by the pale crust that can develop (or so I've read) from prolonged fermentation at room temperature.

Protease is not all bad fact I'm wondering - is it possible that the protease is actually an important factor in achieving a red-brown crust colour? Since the crust colour is not simply caramelisation of sugars but also a more complex maillard reaction between denatured proteins (amino acids?) and sugars. If protease denatures the proteins in the dough this might positively affect the maillard reaction(s)? 



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Can anyone find information on the range of temperatures for rye (100%) retardation? Is there such a thing as retarding high % rye dough?  Or should one only retard starters or builds and not the final dough? 

I seem to think rye has a lower dough flexibility tolerence when it comes to cooler temperatures than wheat.  Meaning as rye dough cools, it looses its flexibility never to recover and continue rising.  Wheat dough on the other hand can be cooled/retarded, be brought back up to room temperature and still continues to rise.

What do you think?