The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Best thermometer for bread baking

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SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Best thermometer for bread baking

I would like to start checking the temperature of my bread dough after kneading, to follow the recipes in "Bread Alone"

 

Could you experts recommend me a good brand? I know it needs to be instant read, but I have one that either is not working very well or its concept of "instant" is a bit lax  :-)

 

 Thanks for your advice!

 

Larry Clark's picture
Larry Clark

 

 I started out using a darkroom room thermometer from my photography days and that worked pretty well but maxed out at 120 degrees. Now I use a digital Pyrex "Professional" meat thermometer. I works great for lower temps like dough and water and I also stick the probe in a baking loaf of bread to test for doneness. I think it cost around $10 - $14.

Larry

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Best thermometer: the Thermapen (available from various cooking supply stores and catalogs and also laboratory supply catalogs). They are a bit expensive, but one of the best tools I have ever owned. 20 years ago we would have been very happy to have the Thermapen in the plant chem lab at 10x the price.

As for its instantness, you can see the temperature of the upper crust, upper crumb, middle crumb, lower crumb, and lower crust in real time as you slide the probe through the loaf. I don't think you can get much more instant than that!

sPh

dougal's picture
dougal

I'd like one too!

 

Just to comment that there are various different models and (intended for pro use, distinguishing tools for different usages - like uncooked meat) different colours.

The fast response Thermapens (less than 3 seconds to a steady reading) are denoted as Thermapen FR. (I think they are distinguished by their 2-stage diameter probe.) Ordinary Thermapens are pretty quick, but the FRs are the near-instant ones.

They are not switchable between F and C. Order what you require!

 

"Instant read" does NOT mean fast response. It just means not-continuous reading.

Or in other words, don't leave it in while baking/cooking...

Many "instant read" thermometers can take 30 sec or more to come to a reading.

 

This webpage may be of interest http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/95/Kitchen-Thermometers

 

Regarding Infra Red (non-contact) thermometers - 1/ obviously they can only measure the outside surface temperature, not the inside core temperature 2/ for proper accuracy they need to be calibrated to the emissivity of the particular surface being measured 3/ they are a great way to measure the temperature of the stone hearth in your wood-fired oven...

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The best, most accurate quick(instant) thermometer is an IR hand held. I have the Raytek MT6 that can be found on Amazon or elsewhere for around $50. Once you get the idea of checking the water, dough, baking stone, flour bin and everything else in the bakery, it becomes much easier to control temperatures. This is the best $50 I have spent in a long time. The dial probes are slow and inaccurate. This is instant and accurate down to the 1/10th of a degree..

Eric 

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

 Evidently, one difference between my current tool and what you all recommend is the price! :-)

 

no wonder mine leaves a lot to be desired - thanks for all your replies, I will make sure to upgrade my thermometer ASAP

 

 

 

 

 

If your heart is not in it, excellence is not possible"

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

I have a Taylor instant read thermometer that I like really well for bread baking.  It takes a few seconds to record the temp, but not terribly long.  One thing I did learn about it is that it has a notch part way up the stem, and that notch has to be in the dough, bread, or whatever you are measuring, or you won't get an accurate reading.

Oh, and it only cost about $10.

dougal's picture
dougal

Gaaarp, did you look at the page I linked to, above?

 

Cooking for Engineers ran comparative tests against a variety of thermometers.

Including the $10 Taylor dial model.

Do, please, take a look ...  

gaaarp's picture
gaaarp

Dougal, thanks.  I hadn't followed the link before.  Although I may have taken something different from the results than expected.  I'm glad to see that my thermometer tests accurately, even if it's slow.  There are a lot of gadgets I am willing to sink money into; I guess for me a thermometer just isn't one of them.  At least not yet.  I get good results using mine, so I'll stick with it for now.  To be honest, I don't rely that much on the thermometer in baking.  I basically use it to confirm that the loaf is done.