The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

dough temperature

varda's picture

dough temperature

I have been thinking - probably too much - about dough temperature.   Referring to Hamelman he gives the following heuristic:

WT = 4*DDT - AT - FT - ST - FF

where WT is water temperature, DDT is desired dough temperature, AT is air temp, FT is flour temp, ST is Starter temp, FF is Friction Factor which he lists as 26. 

I know from recent experience that if I plug in the numbers to get water temp, that  my dough will be colder than 76F (desired dough temp) after mixing.   So I have been trying to get it by trial and error.    That has its limitations of course.   So today, I decided I would both wing it and measure and see what happened.

I made the following measurements:   AT=67.1, FT=66, ST=68.4.   If I plug those numbers into the formula above for a DDT of 76, I would then set water temperature to 76.5.   However, I knew that would miss the mark, so instead I took what I thought would be a better water temperature by feel, and then measured it as 96.8.   I know, a lot higher.   Then after mixing all ingredients I measured dough temperature and got 79.5.   So I overshot somewhat.   Then I got to thinking - I could compute "actual" FF from my results above.   So solving for FF you get

FF= 4*ADT - AT -FT -ST -WT, where ADT is my actual measured dough temperature after mixing.   So plugging in the numbers you get FF=19.7.   So if you go back and redo Hamelman's formula with this value for FF the result is that I should have had a water temp of 82.8.    

Now, I know this won't satisfy the engineers among you because it is still the same simple-minded approach that has equal weight for each ingredient and so forth (I read the discussion with Dan Dimuzio.)   And it probably won't satisfy the pure bakers among you because, well, WTF.   But anyhow, it kind of satisfies me, and I'm going to go with this revised FF next time I bake.    

Oh, and despite all these shenanigans, my bread came out pretty good.   But I still want more control over temperature. 


Chuck's picture

The "friction factor" (also known as the "kludge factor":-) is how much heat is added to your dough during mixing. It's typically very large for using a food processor, substantial for using a mixer, small (often negligibly so) for hand mixing, and sometimes even slightly negative.

It's different for each mixer/person (and probably a little different for different recipes too). The "example" Hamelman uses is for his mixer, and is probably not accurate for you.

Hamelman probably gives fairly detailed directions for determining your own friction factor. The basest way to do it is figure out what number would have made the temperature equation work out right . Then just use that same number next time. (To make future tweaking easier, also record how long you ran your mixer and at what speed.)

(If you make the same recipe over and over, the same "friction factor" will work every time. Even for changing recipe sizes and procedures -and even seasons, you'll get good at "tweaking" your friction factor after a while. Here's where your notes on mixing time and mixer speed will be useful.)

(All the "desired dough temperature" equations I've ever seen are just very rough approximations - much better than not paying attention to temperature at all, but by no means exact. If yours typically gets you within 5F or so of the temperature you were hoping to hit, that's "good enough".)

(I can't help associating the "friction factor" with the "Lord Nestle Equation" I learned in college: the difference between your answer and the answer in the back of the book is the fudge factor:-)

wally's picture

Hi Varda,

Chuck's remarks above are on the mark: friction factor differs with each and every mixer, so you need to determine it by seeing how much your actual temperature differs from the temperature you're arbitrarily assigning for the friction of the mixer and adjust accordingly.

However, there is one other factor beyond those: the heat generated from the chemical reaction of mixing flour and water.  James MacGuire asserts that you should add 5 degrees F for the temperature rise here. 

What I do when computing DDT is add 5 degrees F to my assigned 'friction factor.'  I've found that ususally gets me within a degree +/- of what I'm shooting for.



varda's picture

So it seems from what you are both saying that the approach I took is actually standard.    But this whole area seems pretty confusing.   Is the expectation that the dough will stay at that original temperature after mixing?    I suppose that depends on raising the ambient temperature to the temperature of the dough, or the temperature of the dough will eventually drop to room temp.   But even if you manage to keep the ambient temperature up (say by putting in a proofing cabinet, or in my case, the oven) when you stretch and fold, it seems like the very act of spreading the dough out would lose a lot of heat.   So do you just start at the DDT and then in the winter at least, lose temperature every time you stretch and fold?   Thanks for your answers, and sorry to ask yet more questions.  -Varda

Chuck's picture

Is the expectation that the dough will stay at that original temperature after mixing?

Yes and no.

It won't happen automagically. You're likely to arrange to make it happen though: if you've gone to all the trouble of creating dough at 78F, you'll probably go to the additional trouble of finding some spot about the same temperature for the dough to rise. (If your kitchen is 70F though, in my experience the drop from 78F to 70F happens so slowly compared to the bulk rise time that you can pretty much ignore it. It seems to take at least an hour for ambient temperature to reach the center of a loaf-sized ball of dough.)

If you purposely ferment the dough at a very different temperature -say by "retarding" it in your refrigerator- the temperature of the dough may change quite a bit. This may be exactly what you want: start at 78F to let the yeast "wake up" and "get started" under more or less optimal yeast conditions, then get colder to slow down the yeast that's already going. In other cases  you'll have a target dough temperature similar to the refrigerator the ferment will happen in - i.e. 50F or so, which usually means you have to start with ice water.

A procedure I often follow is to mix dry yeast in with the flour and other dry ingredients since it mixes much easier that way, but not have it "wake up" for the first half hour, which is the "autolyse" period and should be yeastless. I've found that if I use ADY (not IDY) and purposely shoot for a DDT of less than 60F, it works pretty well.

You can use lots of different DDTs for lots of different purposes. The simplest procedure of just going for a DDT of around 76F-80F and fermenting at about that same temperature is probably a good place to start  ...but it's not the only reasonable possibility.


... when you stretch and fold, it seems like the very act of spreading the dough out would lose a lot of heat.

Huh? It would? In my experience, assuming for argument's sake that the dough does lose a lot of heat, the S&F happens so quickly compared to the overall length of the fermentation that the difference is negligible.


... this whole area seems pretty confusing.

Can you elaborate? I can't escape the feeling so far we've all missed your real question.

Is the issue "how to reach a certain DDT?" or "how to choose what DDT to try to hit?" or "how does DDT work long term?" or "why should one care about DDT at all?" or ... ?

varda's picture

and maybe fussing about details (like stretch and fold) that may not be so important.   I haven't solved the consistent temperature question yet.   I think with your answers and all the thermometerless peoples' answers I have a better sense of all this.   I can use Hamelman's formula but use my own friction factor as I discover it for the mixer and the bread type.   I should continue to look for a good strategy for maintaining a consistent ambient temperature the same as the dough temperature (this is hard but I'm working on it) and I should ignore the dough's little tricks.   And probably most important, I shouldn't always be in such a hurry.   Now that's the hardest thing of all.   Anyhow, I appreciate your help.  -Varda

pmccool's picture

I read the various posts about DDT/ADT with interest and more than a little nerdish curiosity.  It is quite intriguing.

Now, brace yourself for the blasphemy: I have never attempted to apply that information to my baking and perhaps never will.  My apostasy is informed by several factors.

Factor #1: I am a home baker whose baking schedule is rather loose; having to hit a particular production schedule isn't an issue for me as it is for the commercial baker.  If a WFO materializes in my back yard, I may have to rethink this.

Factor #2: It has been at least 2 years, perhaps 3, since I last used a mixer to make bread.  Generally speaking, mixer-induced temperature rise is a non-factor for my doughs.

Factor #3: There are other things (shaping, slashing, etc.) that have a much bigger effect on my finished breads, and which require further skill development on my part, than does achieving a precise dough temperature.

Note that I have not said that dough temperature is unimportant.  Fermentation takes longer when the dough is cooler and proceeds more rapidly when the dough is warmer.  Therefore, I do make adjustments as ambient temperatures rise or fall.  But not to the extent of taking the temperature of all of the components and calculating which one needs to be adjusted to achieve a predetermined DDT.

Please do keep the discussion going.  I am an info junkie and want to learn more.  As for the foreseeable future (aren't oxymorons fun?!), I will probably continue in my Luddite practices and still turn out breads that I thoroughly enjoy.  (In case that doesn't come across well in print, there is absolutely no sarcasm intended.)



ehanner's picture

I pay attention to the general conditions of temperature in the kitchen. I don't bother to measure the exact FT, ST or FF. I do make an effort to get the water to a temp that will bring the  dough to approximately the DDT. That said, if using a mixer, the cold bowl of my DLX will suck life giving warmth out of a dough like the North wind blowing through a stadium in the cheap seats (thanks Paul:>)) Warming the rather heavy SS bowl before adding ingredients means it is not contributing to the delay of dinner while waiting on the bread.


GSnyde's picture

Thanks, Varda.  Interesting topic.

I adjust water temperature to get roughly to the DDT.  This is necessary because we keep our filtered water in the fridge.  I don't apply a friction factor because, like Paul, I use the Luddite Brand Dough Processing System.

I have found that a few degrees of dough temperature variation has less impact on fermentation time than how feisty my sourdough starter is that day. 

So if my DDT is 76F and my dry ingredients and water temperature are 70F, I nuke the water to about 80-85F.

Now, if I did have an electronical dough mixing machine, I suppose I would need to add some friction factor, but I don't so I don't.

The other thing to keep in mind is, if your actual dough temperature is more than a couple degrees high or low, you can adjust the air temperature to speed or slow the fermentation time (if you have a microwave, camping cooler or other proofing box-like object).

I do use a calculator and thermometer in baking, but not as often as I use the ten temperature sensors that came as standard equipment on my hands.


LindyD's picture

 Is the expectation that the dough will stay at that original temperature after mixing?

I had wondered about this as well, so on 28 January I hand mixed a small batch of sourdough (925 grams).    I didn't keep a record of the various temps at the time, but did note that I assigned a FF of 5 for the hand mix.  DDT was 76F.

I folded the dough in the bowl a total of six times at 30-minute intervals.  Dough temp was 76F after the third fold as well as the sixth fold.  So the dough did retain the 76F temperature over those three hours.  

However, as a home baker not using a climate-controlled proofing box, I don't know if it retained that temperature from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m, when I moved it to my board for pre- shaping.    

I use a large glass bowl for hand mixing dough. Because the interiors of my cupboards are cold (outside wall of an old house), I make sure to warm the bowl if I've forgotten to put it on the counter the night before.  

As Chuck and Larry have noted, that FF of 26F noted in Bread was just an numeric example in that graph.  On the next page he uses a FF of 24F as an example.

I took his advice about "winging it" and started experimenting with the FF number.  As it turned out,  applying a FF of 26F when I mix with my Bosch Compact stand mixer hits the targeted DDT 99% of the time.

Might be interesting to use a probe thermometer to monitor the dough temp during the bulk fermentation of my next mix.

varda's picture

But anyhow,  I have not had the same result.   If I measure the temperature after a S&F I do see a decrease.   However, I am stretching and folding on the counter and I suspect that creates a bigger heat drop than doing it in the bowl since on the counter you press the dough flat which exposes more dough to the cold (so cold) air.  Anyhow, I've never seen anything about this on this list or in any books.   I am guessing that in a warm professional bakery this is not really an issue.   In a cold (so cold) nonprofessional kitchen perhaps it is.  -Varda

LindyD's picture

Not sure I follow, Varda.  Are you hand mixing the dough?  You mention S&Fs, but those are generally done after the dough has been mixed. 

As JH states in the first two sentences on page five of Bread:  "The first step in proper mixing has nothing to do with actual mixing at all.  It involves the simple determination of the water temperature required for the mix..."

He also speaks of experiencing a major difference in air temperature at his bakery at page 385.  He notes that he had to increase the water temp by 60 degrees on the cold day, but on both days his dough came off the mixer at 75F.

With respect to my question about whether the dough retained the DDT during the bulk fermentation, I ran another experiment today.  I wanted to achieve a dough temp of 76F and my water temp should have been 93F today.  It was 95F but I used it anyway.  Dough temp was 78F both times I checked when I was folding in the bowl.  I checked it twice during the 2-hour bulk ferment.  It had gone up a degree, which I can understand since fermentation creates heat.  Here's a photo of the temp reading at the end of the bulk fermentation.  Warmer than it should have been, but that was my fault for being too impatient for the water to cool a couple degrees.

I will admit that my kitchen was 77F all day today, thanks to wood heat.   Quite the opposite to the summer months. 

As to the result of this experiment, well, suffice it to say I'll post about it later tonight or tomorrow.  It seems that only the picture perfect breads are shown at TFL.  I'm going to show the dark side!   ;-)

varda's picture

No I was worrying about temperature drop during stretch and folds but Chuck says not to worry and I have enough to worry about as it is, so I won't.   My kitchen is never 77 in the winter short of a direct meteor hit, and I have found the dough cooling a lot if I leave it on the counter which I think I mistakenly attributed to the stretch and folds.   So I'm looking for a consistent way to keep the temperature of the dough constant after I've so carefully adjusted water to get a reasonable starting dough temperature.   But anyhow, would love to see pictures of your completed breads, perfect or not.   And I have posted pictures of plenty of extremely imperfect loaves myself so I don't think I'm speaking out of turn.  -Varda

Chuck's picture

I have found the dough cooling a lot if I leave it on the counter

I did too for a while. I could tell my counter was cold  ...the question was why. It eventually occurred to me the problem must be on the bottom side of the counter, as the top side was trying to be at the same temperature as my kitchen.

Underneath my counter of course were a whole bunch of cupboards. And when I took the time to check, I found the whole set of cupboards was chilly, especially on a cold day. I found a draft inside the cupboard and followed it and found out cold air was coming through the hole for the sink drain pipe.

A little bit of that magic spray insulation from a hardware store (duct tape works well too:-), and no more cold cupboards or countertop.

varda's picture

There are pipes under the counters and they run into the walls and there may be an opening that is letting in colder air.   I'll check it out. Thanks. -Varda

varda's picture

Well its nice to see that some very excellent bakers on this list don't run around with thermometers.   But sometimes nerdlike tendencies are just to hard to overcome.    My major issue with consistent quality come from not being able to read the dough properly.   So I'm quite motivated to figure out processes that make my bread come out more consistently.   One of my issues is that I will poke the dough and it indents and I think I'm through no matter what the time or temperature.   But if I come back a couple minutes later a new indentation springs back.   I think it is trying fool me.   I have partially come to the conclusion that these fluctuations in the dough elasticity (is that right?) are actually temperature dependent.   I put it in the microwave and everything is fine until the preheating oven also heats up the microwave.   Or there are monster drafts coursing through the kitchen that then disappear.   And these fluctuating temperature conditions impact the texture of the dough and I find myself searching for consistency in temperature and thus time so I can actually get the steps down to a (pseudo) science.  -Varda

ssor's picture

as well as yeast breads I keep the AP flour in the freezer. And use poultry fat for shortening. poultry fat will melt at 75 degrees so that is kept refrigerated. When I make yeast bread I use the cold flour and warm water and mix by hand and the bread rises anyway. A few times I have jabbed a thermometer into the dough and found it to be a bit above room temperature.

The temperature rise in machine mixed dough should be figured as the heat value of the total work that is put into the dough. Say a 500 watt mixer run for ten minutes.That is the equivalent of 80 watt hours. That is a maximum of 264 BTU's. So if your mixer was working to its rated load capacity it could raise 10 pounds of dough 26 degrees. Subtracting the heat loss through the bowl and from the surface the actual temperature rise will be lower.

Chuck's picture

I will poke the dough and it indents and I think I'm through no matter what the time or temperature. But if I come back a couple minutes later a new indentation springs back. I think it is trying fool me.

I've had the same experience  ...a lot. And I too have had the "hurry up and get it in the oven" response, only to realize an hour or two later that in reality it had barely started proofing.

What I've eventually concluded is the "finger poke" test for finding out if proofing is done works fine if not done right away. If done too soon, the dough won't spring back at all because it's not even elastic yet, and it's pretty easy to misinterpret this as "done proofing" because it looks the same.

My experience is this has nothing to do with dough temperature.

I eventually learned to tell the different feels of "dead dough" (not really started fermenting yet) and dough that's chock full of gas (over-proofed). But in the meantime I found the clock worked reasonably well. If the recipe said "proof for about 80 minutes", I'd not even try the finger poke test for 40 (i.e. half the specified 80) minutes. After that, I'd stop paying attention to the clock and start paying attention to the finger poke test until the loaf really was fully proofed.

varda's picture

Well this is interesting.   It doesn't necessarily explain all the confusing tricks that dough plays on me but perhaps some of them.   I'll take it under advisement (so to speak.)   Thanks.  -Varda

hanseata's picture

in the cheap seats. I usually mix my dough and then it goes in the fridge - without taking its temperature. I measure dough temperature when I'm making pâte fermentee, and, recently, checked it when I tried some Hamelman recipes.

In my opinion you can measure all you want - there always some factors you can't exactly calculate - I rather go by experience and learn by mistakes.