Temperature control is one of the most important parts of bread making. If the dough temperature is too warm the dough will ferment too rapidly. If it is too cool it may take way longer than you expected.
Desired final dough temperature heavily relies on the temperature of the room that it is going to be fermented in. Generally, we want to aim for 24C – 26C. The dough should be cooler in a warmer kitchen and warmer in a cooler kitchen. There are exceptions when the ambient temperature is in the extremes so you may need to slide off the scale in either direction.
What affects dough temperature?
A few things affect the dough temperature as it is being mixed. Some of them we can control and some of them we can’t control. If your kitchen does not have air conditioning or reliable heating, then it may be very hot in the summer and pretty chilly in the winter. So, the air temperature is something most of us will not be able to control.
Flour temperature is another thing that in most cases we will not be in control of, and it would be impractical to try and control the temperature of it anyway. Since the flour sits in the room, it will be close to the room temperature, but don’t expect it to be exactly the same. Flour is a lot denser than air, so it will take a lot longer to cool down or warm up.
That leaves us with the liquid which we can control the temperature of. Be it water, milk, eggs, yogurt, or anything else that goes in the dough and makes up a significant part of it.
When it comes to small amounts of fat or oil or even ingredients like seeds, and sugar, I don’t consider them most of the time. If they make up a small part of the dough, then they won’t affect the temperature too much.
It is the liquid that will affect the final dough temperature most, so our goal is to calculate the right temperature for the liquid in order to reach the desired dough temperature (DDT).
The formula for calculating water temperature.
We have three known variables. The air temperature, the flour temperature, and the final dough temperature. As an example, my kitchen temperature is 27C, flour temperature 25.5C, and I decided that I want the final dough temperature to be 25C.
All we need to do is subtract 1 from the desired dough temperature, then multiply that number by 3 (number of known variables), then subtract the air and flour temperatures which will give us the water temperature.
((DDT-1) x3)-Air-Flour = Water
((25-1) x3)-27-25.5 = Water
72-27-25.5 = 19.5C
Even though the dough is not kneaded it will still warm up by a couple degrees during mixing. That is why the formula has -1 in it. Subtracting a degree gives us some wiggle room for achieving the correct final dough temperature.
If your kitchen is very cold, then you may not need to subtract anything. But it it’s extremely warm, then you could subtract 2. Once you’ve tried it a few times you’ll get a hang of it.
Other things to consider.
The temperature of the mixing bowl will affect the temperature of the liquid that you pour into it. I usually don’t pay much attention to it, but it’s worth knowing.
Sometimes the dough may need to be mixed by hand for a few seconds to smooth it out and distribute all the ingredients evenly. This will also warm it up a bit.
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