The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

internal temperature

Pablo's picture
Pablo

internal temperature

Sometimes recipes refer to an internal temperature of the baking loaf as an indicator that it is done. Do people bake bread with a thermometer stuck in it? Is this something you would experiment with only a few times to determine the optimal baking time for a recipe or do some folks regularly keep thermometers in their loaves? Or is there some other method of determining the internal temperature that I'm missing?

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

You want to get an instant read thermometer, which you stick into the bottom of the loaf when you take it out of the oven. You can pick one up for about $15 in the gadget isle at the supermarket or a kitchen supply store. Welcome to TFL..

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Thanks for the information and for the welcome. It's great to be here!

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== Do people bake bread with a thermometer stuck in it? ===

Depends how fanatical you are and how much money you have to play with. Some have tried the Polger in-oven thermometers to track dough/loaf temperature thoughout the bake, with mixed results. Rose Levy Beranbaum uses an Omega 4-channel industrial recording thermometer with probes good to 1500 deg.F, but that is probably a bit of overkill for anyone who isn't a measuring geek.

As a certified measuring geek I would love to use an Omega unit to measure during the bake, but I make do with a Thermapen, which is an incredibly accurate and fast reading digital, to measure when the estimated time is up.

sPh

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Thanks.  For me, non-measuring ludite that I am, the instructions to bake until an internal temperature of n degrees is reached is not very helpful, unless something like "about 20 minutes" is appended.

ejm's picture
ejm

I am pretty fanatical about using my instant read thermometer for any of the lean breads I make (the ones that contain only flour, water, salt and yeast) - by  sticking it into the bottom of the loaf so it doesn't mar the look of the bread. (I didn't even know there were thermometers invented that could be left in the bread for the whole time of baking.)

But for any other bread, I fall back on the knocking on the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it's likely to be done.

With the lean bread, it can sound hollow after a certain length of time and look done, but until the internal temperature is definitely above 200F and ideally around 210F , the crumb just isn't right. (Our thermometer is not an expensive one and probably not particularly accurate.)

What you could do to ensure that lean bread is baked, if you don't want to measure with a thermometer, is once you think the bread is done, turn the oven off, leave the oven door ajar and leave the bread in the oven for another 10 minutes.

-Elizabeth 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Elizabeth,

Do you leave the bread on the stone for that additional 10 minutes?

Paul 

ejm's picture
ejm

Ah, good question. I haven't done this since we got a stone because of also having an instant read  thermometer.

So, thinking about it, because the stone retains its heat so well, you might put the perhaps finished bread on a rack above the stone. But really, your guess is as good as mine. It might be easier and cause less grief to just break down and pay the $5 or so for an instant read thermometer.

-Elizabeth 

swtgran's picture
swtgran

I bake with the thermometer in the bread.  I like knowing that when I set the temp I can set it and forget, so to speak.  I don't have to keep setting the timer when the bread isn't ready when the alarm first goes off.  I get distracted and this works well for me.  Terry

holds99's picture
holds99

Until recently I used a small mechanical thremometer made by Universal.  It has a dial face covered with a plastic crystal.  The face is about the size of a dime with a pointed insert probe on the backside of the face.  It works fine.  The only problem is the Insert probe is 5 inches long and you have to hold it by the face to insert and remove it.  Also, because of the plastic crystal covering the face, it cannot be left inserted during cooking/baking time.  Unless it's a control probe connected to the oven, don't know why you want to leave a thermometer inserted during cooking/baking anyway.

About 6 months ago I purchased a THERMAPEN 5 thermometer.  It's the best thermometer I have ever owned or used.  It's digital and works terrific.  If you're serious about bread baking and are going to stay with the craft for years to come I would highly recomment making the investment.  I think I paid around $95 U.S.  Thermapen consistently gets 5 star ratings from users. I bought a red one...easy to spot in the drawer.  Anyway, here a link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=thermapen+thermometer&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=2197763231&ref=pd_sl_3hsxkiz0l7_e

Good luck in your baking endeavors,

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Thanks Howard, I stuck it in my Amazon wish list. A personal recommendation like this means a lot. There is the problem of the color though... so many choices! I don't think I'll need the holster :-)

sphealey's picture
sphealey

It is sort of like the book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie":  once you have a Thermapen there is no end of things around the house that need measuring.  I have actually improved the quality of my grilled steaks quite a bit by using it to measure the internal temp and avoid overcooking.  Melting chocolate, checking the temperature of the water heater... the possbilities are endless!  It is one of the best tools I own.

sPh

ehanner's picture
ehanner

When I started thinking about cooking NY Style pizza on my small Weber I knew I HAD to have an IR temp gauge. It's the only way to know if your stone is really hot. Now I use it on dough, water, milk I am warming to just the right temp (rule of 240). I find it much more accurate than the cheap instant read probes. It won't tell me the temp of the inside of the bread but I can tell you from across the room if you have a fever. What fun.

Eric 

dougal's picture
dougal

Just a few things to be aware of: -

- they are either C or F (not both, not switchable) - choose well!

- the ones most people rave about are the "super fast" ones (often designated with an SF in the mdel ref - less than 3 seconds to a steady reading) which have a probe tip that has a narrower 'neck' section before the point.

- the colour choice is because, for pro use, you'd have different kit, for example, for raw and cooked meats

- in the UK there's a cheapo model - the "Eco-Thermapen" - its not super fast, but it is C/F switchable and has a max/min function too. And takes a very ordinary battery.

 

I'd rather like a Thermapen. But they are a bit expensive.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

If you don't want to spend ninety bucks for a digi thermometer, Fieldpiece makes a folding pocket instant read that I've found fast and accurate. Cost is $20 bucks. You can chose between F or C - it is switchable.

Color is yellow

I don't keep a thermometer in the bread while it is baking. In most cases the color of the crust gives me a hint (as well as following the recipe bake time) but I do check with the Fieldpiece once I've pulled out the loaves.

 

 

 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Hi All,

Thanks for all the great input. What I've done is to pick up a probe-type thermometer at the hardware store for $20.00. I reasoned that I didn't want to keep opening the oven to check the temperature compulsively, as I know I would, and let all that heat out of the oven while I was doing it. I still may pick up an instant read at some point, but for now, I'm going to use the probe. I figure that inserting it into the wet dough might cause some collapse so I've figuring that after a few minutes when I'm either removing the water pan or taking off Susan's magic bowl (whichever technique I'm attempting) I'll insert the probe at that time. It seems pretty slick to be able to monitor the internal temperature of the loaf from outside of the oven.

I also bought a metric digital scale today. The old cups method of measuring flour just won't cut it in this crowd!

Happy baking all, I'm having a great time! Paul

dougal's picture
dougal

I have a digital probe "oven thermometer" for internal measurement during cooking - but I've considered that it would be too 'disruptive' to use while baking bread or cake. However, if you were baking many loaves/cakes then 'disrupting' one might just possibly be worth the sacrifice...

The probe ("oven") thermometer is brilliant for roasting (and even boiling/poaching ham) but it doesn't strike me as being helpful to me to try using it for bread/cake in the oven.

(Please tell me if I've got that all wrong!)

 

Nevertheless, its important to understand that "instant read" thermometers rarely (if ever) give anything like an immediate, instantaneous or even rapid reading.

It would be more accurate (but much less effective marketing) to call them 'non-continuous' reading (you don't leave them inserted while cooking). Expect them to take over 30 seconds (maybe 3x that) to settle on a reading.

I've been very disappointed in the past...

 

The thing about the Fast Response Thermapens is that they do give a reading very very very quickly indeed. Literally 3 seconds. That's fast.

Take a look here http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/95/Kitchen-Thermometers

Having seen how enlightening the roasting/probe thermometer has been, I would like to have a Thermapen FR. But I'm (maybe wrongly) considering it a luxury, and as such, its only about third on the list for when I get a windfall!

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I used the probe yesterday and I was quite happy with it. I tried the "magic bowl" technique and when I removed the bowl after 20 minutes at 525 F (had the oven door open anyway) I inserted the probe, as close to the center of a largish round loaf as I could. Then I could watch the temp, (oven to 475 F) it started at 186 F I believe and I watched it climb until it hit 207 F, which took about another 10 minutes. I then turned off the oven and left the door ajar with the loaf still on the stone and watched the temp. It climbed to 208 F and held. After 10 minutes I took it out and left it on a cooling rack. I left the probe in to continue to watch the temp. It took a remarkably long time to begin to decend. Here's the loaf. It's 70% hydration. Tomorrow I'm going to try 75%.

probe in bread

probe in bread

the crumb

the crumb

Also tomorrow I'm going back to the pan and steam method and when I remove the pan I'll insert the probe.

ejm's picture
ejm

It looks like the thermometer is paying off. The bread looks fine. (I like your slash design.)

-Elizabeth 

Pablo's picture
Pablo

I'm having trouble getting the slashes to be deep enough. I was using a single edged razor blade. It seemed to more pull the dough than cut it. Today I picked up a small serrated edge knife. I'll be trying that on tomorrow's loaf. I'm getting a sourdough starter going as well, so today when I pulled out the 1/4 cup to feed, I dumped the remaining starter in the poolish for tomorrow's loaf. Maybe it'll add a little sour. I'm really having a good time with this. And the bread is fantastic! Today's breakfast was lightly toasted bread from yesterday's loaf with peanut butter and fresh pear slices. Oh baby!

RKrie36103's picture
RKrie36103

I was having trouble with the single-edge razor blade pulling too, so I started using my electric knife with the slicing blade. Works great!

swtgran's picture
swtgran

Paul, I have never had a loaf of bread collapse from the probe.  I put it in center of a long side, at an angle toward the middle.  I first hold it over the bread and place my thumb and forefinger at the edge and the point at the middle, so I know just how far to push the probe in.  I do this right before I put it in the oven.  I would think it would only collapse if it is over proofed. 

I have never used it with covered bread.  When doing that, I time it then use the instant read.  Terry R

Pablo's picture
Pablo

Thanks Terry.  I'm new to this and a lot of it's still a mystery to me.  Paul