What is the basis of dough temperture concerns?
Years ago, while I was off doing other things and not baking bread, I began to notice that artisan minded bread makers would occasionally speak about the desire to control the temperature during the initial mixing process.
I admit, I was impressed by an application of rigor to the process, and when I recently began to reacquaint myself with bread making I was glad to see that this subject has become a common topic.
So, I was surprised to find that I have been satisfied with a far more casual approach, and am even guilty of falling back on some of the "mid-century" notions of home kitchen baking.
I have been purposefully warming the water ( which refers to the, seemingly outdated, notion that the yeast needs to be activated ) that I use in the initial mix.
I have been kneading the dough in a counter top spiral mixer running at slow speeds, with an eye towards the dough development and a disregard for the temperature.
My basic recipe is a lean 75% hydration mix; flour, water, yeast, salt.
Once the dough is mixed I observe the rise and proceed when it tells me to.
I have been happy with the results and get a nice open loaf of utility bread for our home kitchen.
This has made me wonder; what is the actual intended result of maintaining a strict discipline with regards to temperature rise in bread (or pizza) dough?
I see the temperature guidelines referred to in many conversations, but I realize I have missed learning why the rules have become established as a norm.
My first thought is that it has to do with timing and the consistent sequencing of a professional baking operation, but I also wonder if there is a significant impact on how the dough handles or tastes?
Can you help me learn about the underlying concept of this subject?
I basically see 2 reasons a home baker should worry about dough temp. First understand that, it's too cold to hit golf balls, and i get a little loopy when i don't hit golf balls.
In both cases, one is using a mechanical mixing device of some sort.
First - you start mixing, then you fall asleep for 8 hrs with the mixer running.
Second - the cat bumps the speed lever to high, and you fall asleep for 8 hrs with the mixer running.
In both cases, you'd have much greater things to worry about besides temps. Readers digest condensed version - don't worry about it - there's plenty enough other things to worry about. Enjoy!
Oh i forgot - the dough temp thing was born of commercial concerns, not us!
I can not figure out if you trying to be helpful or not.
I have seen a lot of home internet pizza making enthusiasts focusing attention on dough temperature. Are they just mimicking techniques taught at pizza making schools that are intended for use at high volume pizzerias or are they taking the steps to ensure they have better handling and or tasting dough?
Probably both. One of those eh things, 6 of 1, half dozen of the other. In line with my concern for dough temps for the casual baker. Enjoy!
First, welcome to TFL, where for the most part you will get serious replies to your questions and helpful advice in your quest to become a better baker.
Not everyone pays attention to dough temperature, and I seem to be in a minority when it comes to taking the dough temperature at all. The reason I do (whether the recipe involves purely sourdough starter or also instant dry yeast) is that it gives me some sense of what to expect. In the winter, our kitchen is chilly, and I use warmer water. In the summer, I use warm water, but not as warm as in winter. My general aim is for a dough temperature after the initial mixing of 73-78 F.
My notes from each bake include the temperature of the kitchen and the initial dough temperature. A warmer temperature means a faster bulk fermentation, and cooler means longer. How much faster and how much longer? That depends, and the right amount of time comes down to the factors that you are already observing. As the saying goes, watch the dough, not the clock.
Hope this helps a bit to answer your question. Happy baking.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
According to Jeffrey Hamelman "fermentation can occur at temperatures anywhere between 30F and 130F" but the optimum range for wheat-based breads is between 75F and 85F. This range "encourages both flavor and volume to develop in a balanced fashion". In practice I find dough temperatures between 68F and 80F are conveniently obtainable where I live, depending on the weather, and these always work well for me. I use Doves Farm instant dried yeast.
I like to control ingredient weights, temperatures and procedures tightly so that my bread consistently comes out just how I like it, and so that I know pretty well how long the bulk ferment and proving will take. For home baking this is not strictly necessary as with less tight control the bread is still good, if a bit less consistent, and the bulk ferment and proving times are more variable. I still find variability between different batches of yeast and flour.
Bread bakers should consider temperature no differently from an ingredient or time because as a variable in developing it is no less important. The temperature that our dough is at is one variable that affects the rate of fermentation. Dough temperature also effects how the dough handles including when you’re shaping or pre-shaping and also when scoring.
I include temperature notes in all my bakes and try to include that information in my formulas that I share here.
I am hoping you might elaborate on your thoughts about how "Dough temperature also effects how the dough handles including when you’re shaping or pre-shaping"
Vivean, cold dough is stiffer than warm, so it will handle as such. It will be firmer and less extensible, it won’t be a night and day difference, but it will handle differently. If you don’t already include a cold retard, you’ll find that cold dough is easier to score because it is stiffer and the skin on the surface of the dough won’t drag on the lame as much.
I don't have much experience with cold retards for my primary purposes, but with each batch of bread loaves I bake I have been setting aside several "extra" 500gram balls in the fridge for bonus use as quick pizzas or cinnamon rolls etc
I get to handle and experience that "cold" dough but the extended time and purposeful refrigeration leads me to anticipate that it will seem different than the dough which I mix primarily to ferment, proof, shape and bake all in one day.
Is particularly useful when doing a cold retard, in order to regulate yeast and enzyme activity in a hostile environment.
Thank you for contributing to the discussion.
You have piqued my interest. In this instance is the idea that you want to prevent the yeast from getting too lively in a relatively warm environment before you shut it down in the cold storage?
How does putting too warm a dough mix in the cold affect the result?
Perhaps this is what was meant. When you put dough into your refrigerator for an overnight final proofing, the dough does not immediately drop to the temperature of your refrigerator. Instead, the dough cools slowly (with the drop not being linear either). Warmer dough will take longer to cool to a stable temperature than will dough that is already cooler.
Hence, if you have a warm kitchen and warm dough and then you do a final shaping, keep in mind that the dough will continue to expand a bit even after it enters the refrigerator. In that case you might want to pull the plug on the bulk fermentation a bit earlier than if, for instance, your kitchen is cool and the dough is not as warm. It is a matter of judging when the bulk fermentation phase has reached the point where you move on to the next phase. And that is part of the art rather than the science of bread baking.
Keep asking questions. Happy baking.
I bulk ferment dough to make 2 hearth loaves at a time, but my baking steel will only accommodate one loaf. I put a brotform in the fridge during the bulk ferment and after shaping I put one loaf to prove at ambient temperature in a brotform previously warmed in a proving oven (the proving function on my oven runs at 86F), and the other in the chilled brotform in the fridge. The warm loaf proves more quickly than the fridged loaf. I've learned by trial and error that if I take my second loaf out of the fridge when I put the first loaf in the oven to bake it is proved "just right" for baking when I take the first loaf out of the oven.
I originally thought Desired Dough Temp referred to an upper limit, considering the heat produced in a mechanical mixer. Then I realized it referred to a target: not too high, not too low.
You may find this article interesting:
I had not thought much about this previously, but one of the comments here made me appreciate how the cold retard procedure is meant to delay the development and the exhaustion of the yeast. I imagine this is especially useful for managing an "on demand" baking regime, which can be exemplified by the operation of a pizzeria, where customers expect the product to be freshly baked and it would be difficult to have the dough readily available in an ideal state if you were not managing the rise with some degree of control.
I had been thinking about baking bread etc. where the task is usually done in the off hours and the results that are produced are utilized several hours after they are baked, which would seem to provide some flexibility in terms of schedule.
I don't want to dismiss the contribution of flavor development due to enzyme activity, and I had supposed that was the primary purpose of using a cold retard procedure, but I was focusing on the effect of a short term increase in temperature during the mixing phase.
It has also been educational to consider how small batch bakers can use the cold retard to optimize the timing of their proofing. I think I am much more casual about the process and benefit from the habit of baking my bread loaves simultaneously, so I have not had to worry about over proofing while waiting 40+/- minutes for a batch of bread to bake and free the oven for the next batch.
Furthermore, this discussion has led me to better appreciate the challenges that a commercial baker faces when coordinating mixing and preparation with their ovens' capacity to bake in a timely fashion. I guess that no matter how many ovens you own and operate they will always present a sort of bottleneck in capability and force constraints of timing that must be accounted for to produce consistent results.
Your thoughtful questions have already produced responses from some of the most knowledgeable and helpful members here. Will try to contribute a helpful perspective.
What I suggest is to consider leavening and flavor development as timelines that can be de-coupled from each other to allow you greater control over each process for whatever reasons best match your goals.
Consider that there is additional flavor development to be gained beyond whatever window you allow for yeast growth or leavening.
Temperature is one way to control the RATE of growth of yeast. Cold retarding can be considered a way to put the brakes on yeast growth, but also to allow additional time for flavor development. The latter, as you already know, is a function of enzyme activity. That activity continues in temperatures at which yeast growth 'retards' or becomes dormant.
Aiming for a certain rate of yeast development is very helpful in scheduling. But extending the period of flavor development can yield more 'customization' of the flavor profile of your dough. At present I'm working with 1.8 g of instant yeast per 1000 g of bread flour and retarding the dough in my fridge for 48 hours. The goal is to see how much flavor can be developed this way compared to using various types of pre-ferment.
With this understanding, perhaps you will find yourself unbound by strict rules and able to experiment within the boundaries of avoiding compromise of the yeast's food supply and excessive enzyme activity which, if taken to extremes, will compromise the structure of your dough.
My own results have improved with becoming more obsessive about dough temperature at all stages through use of a Thermapen Mk4. This way I'm able to know exactly how much temperature rise a spiral mixer produces as well as the potential yeast activity in dough on a counter in Wisconsin in January vs July.
Please share your progress and insights with us in the future and enjoy the endless learning that awaits all of us.
Thank you for sharing your comments.
Hi, I just wanted to add a follow up.
On my most recent occasion to bake bread, I made a point of using cool water for the mix, and just used a small 250 gram portion of warm water to wake up the yeast.
I found, or may be imagining, that the dough seemed much more relaxed when I started forming loaves.
The rise time was noticeably increased, and I let the dough develop at its own pace.
I believe there was a perceived improvement in the handling quality of the dough, and I intend to continue working with the lower temperatures to see if my impression seems consistent.