Tips on dough temperature

Not ‘sort of’ or ‘just about’… I want to know exactly!

One thing we learned during our baking adventures is to keep an eye on the temperature of the dough. In our micro bakery the temperature fluctuates between 13ºC/55ºF in the winter and 26ºC/79ºF and upwards during summer. Believe me, this temperature difference has a big impact on the end result of your loaf. When you are baking a lot of loaves in batches and want to get consistency in your end product you need to control the temperature of your dough.

Some tough theory

A few degrees difference in dough temperature can change the duration of the bulk fermentation or the final proofing a lot. When baking bread with regular active dried yeast, the optimum (for speed alone) temperature is just over 27ºC/80ºF. Much hotter and the activity of the yeast declines. Above 35C/95F the yeast is effectively dormant or dead. The bacterial activity peaks at 34C/93F, so some bakers choose to ferment at 32C/90F to get a sourer bread. At 21C/70F the activity of the yeast has roughly halved, so the fermentation will take twice as long.

The right temperature is the single most critical variable. The growth rate of for example the L. sanfranciscensis lactobacillus and C. milleri yeast is ln2 / generation-time, i.e. a growth rate of 0,7 is a generation (doubling time) of about 1 hour.

If the generation time within your dough at 20ºC/68ºF is 1/2 of that at 30ºC/86ºF, the organism will also grow 1/2 as fast at 20ºC/68ºF compared to 30ºC/86ºF. So, it’s not the absolute numbers that matter, but the ratio of growth rate to growth rate at optimum temperature.

Practical tips for consistency

To get consistent bulk fermentation and proofing times, we aim for a dough temperature around 24ºC/75ºF. This is a temperature which gives you a nice balance between speed and taste. You can reach and keep the temperature of your dough with the following techniques;

  • Invest in a good digital thermometer; We use a CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer and a Thermapen which are both excellent, stable and fast.
  • Use warm water in the winter or cold water in the summer to get the dough to the right temperature.
  • The temperature of the water depends of the temperature of your room and the temperature of the other ingredients. For example our Pain Rustique uses a 50% preferment to final dough ratio and thereby uses 72% of the water in the the poolish. In winter we sometimes need very hot water (up to 55C) to get the poolish and the new flour up to 24ºC. However when using a lower preferment to final dough ratio, water of about 30C is often enough to get to 24ºC.
  • Try to keep the dough at a stable temperature. We sometimes put a bowl of dough on top of the Rofco oven covered with a tea towel and on top of a folded towel. Also a preheated and switched off oven to about 30ºC (use a thermometer to measure the inside temperature as your dial on the oven will probably not be very helpful) will work great.
  • Some people build their own proofing cabinet, using an old refrigerator or kitchen cabinet. With the help of a 40W or 100W light bulb on the bottom of the cabinet (warm air rises from bottom to top!) you can easily heat the inside of your cabinet. You can use a simple mechanical thermostat to switch the bulb on and off to control the temperature.
  • When you do not have the means to control the environment temperature of your dough, in summer you can make your dough a few degrees colder and in winter a bit hotter to compensate for the rise or decline in temperature.
  • Water and flour have a different thermal capacity. In bread baking this translates to the influence of water on dough temperature being twice that of flour. The dough calculator you’ll find in most of our bread recipes takes this into account.

Want to learn more on calculating the right water temperature?
Check out this posting on the Wild Yeast blog

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41 Responses to Tips on dough temperature

  1. Errol Botha says:

    What must the dough temperature be after proofing

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Errol
      To start with your dough should be around 25C. After that the challenge is to keep it that way all the way to the last proofing stage. So you need a warm place in your house, use a proofing box or use your oven as one by very slightly heating it for instance.

      Good luck with it!

  2. Martz says:

    I have seen many many opinions and options about required temperature for dough. Most people said is 24º for final dough but others said 20º…..which one is right then ?, the french bakers calculate that on the base temperature which is the sume of room temperature + flour temp and water temp, which they say shoud be 56º in summer and 60º so that will give you 20º final dough temperature.

    Then which one is right ??, my question is, what would be the best base temperature to get the final 24º, for example now in my country is like 20º room temperature + 20º flour temperature, then what should be the water temperature so I get 24º for final dough ??. I dont use preferment or sourdorough, just 0.4% of fresh yeast. and I leave main dough in the fridge for 24hrs. before pre-shape and final shaping.

    Thank you for your great support

    All best


    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hello Martz,
      All temperatures within a certain range are valid, depending on what your goal is with the recipe and how (quick) you want to develop the dough.
      There’s a formula to calculate the desired water temperature: water temp = (4 x desired dough temp) – room temp – flour temp – preferment temp – mixing friction.
      We invested in a digital thermometer quite a while ago and it really is a great tool to aid you getting your temperatures right. But in the end, especially as a home baker, you have the advantage of usually not being on a tight schedule. We aim for the right temperature for a certain recipe but we can accept that it takes as long as it takes. We think it is even more important to develop the ability to judge the dough, consistency, look and feel if it has proofed to perfection and is ready for the oven.
      Good luck with it!

      • Martz says:

        Thank your kind fand fast replay.
        My usual method for making bread is to mix and knead dough and put it in the fridge for 24 or 48 hours.
        I do 70% to 75% hydratation and 0.4% fresh yeast.
        What would you recomend in terms of dough temperature and so ? Right now in my kitchen is 20-21º ando so the flour, so what should be the water temperature then ? taking into account that I leave dough in fridge for the rest of the fermentation.

        Thank you once more

        All best


        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Our go to temperature is between 24 and 25 C. This also corresponds with the proofing times given in our recipes.

    • BDeming says:

      Yeast water temp. I have been making bread for many many years. It takes 48 hours for me to come up with fantastic bread. I do this every 2 days. I never proof yeast if I know it is good. It doesn’t last long enough to go bad. I put masa madre 250g (starter) in a bowl, add all the liquid 250g (except oil), 14g yeast and half the flour I will be using and put the bowl into the refrigerator (40F) for 24 hours. I remove it and softly fold in 100g of very good beer (not bud) and then put it back into the fridge for 24 hours. I then remove it add 375g flour, 15g salt, 20g sugar and 20g olive oil and kneed until i have the texture I desire. Then it goes back into the fridge (40F) for 1 hour to rest. Then I form the dough and let it rise until it is about 1.5X (or just a little more) no doubles about 1.75 hours at 82 – 85F. The bread comes out just like fresh 630g loaf of Wonder Bread. Very very soft to the slice and beautiful. If I want a firmer crumb I kneed it a little more. And for a bagel I kneed it a little more or put in in the Kitchenaid for 7 mins on #2.

      I make cinnabuns the same way basically.

      So this rocket science about yeast means very little. It is a time thing. It always has been about time and flavour. Note that I use the beer and masa madre for flavour.

      Addition to above. The water I add is bottled water I keep in the fridge at 40F. I also keep the yeast and flour in the fridge. I put the water in a nice Pyrex bowl, add the 14g yeast and mix and then add the masa madre and mix and then add the 250g flour. Then put in the fridge for 24 hrs.

      Be very gentle when you add the beer. Fold it like egg whites. Like kissing a German Shepherd on the nose.

      • Weekend Bakers says:

        Thanks for your recipe. What is the total amount of flour? I calculate 125 (half of starter) and 375 = 500g. On this amount of flour you seem to use 15g of salt and 14g of yeast, which seems a lot, enough for two loafs! Are you sure this is correct? Kind regards, Ed

  3. Zoë says:

    I’m doing a baking science fair project and I need information for my research paper! I wanna use this website but I don’t know who the author is please tell me. I really need this thanks!

    • Zoë says:

      Hi Ed & marieke,
      The reason I’m asking is because I need to know this so I can see if it is creditable for my science project. You have the information that I need for my research paper ,but I need to know who wrote it so I can make sure it’s creditable. Not saying that it’s not creditable it’s just I have to check or else my English teacher will say I can’t use this site.
      Sorry if you think I doubt that it’s creditable. I know that it is creditable I just have to check.

      (P.S. My nick name is “Zoë the zombie ” that is why I signed it like that. :p)

      • Weekend Bakers says:

        Hello Zoë,
        It was quite a while ago but we did manage to find something useful for you we hope. Here’s the link that shows you the article we used as a base. You will also see some footnotes referencing to scientific articles and books.…try1769486

        Wishing you the best of luck with your project.

        Greetings from Holland,

        Ed & Marieke

        • Zoë says:

          Hi Ed & Marieke,
          This helped me a lot thanks! I will be using this website for research. You are really awesome! If you can point me to any other sites like this one or one like the last one that would help ,because I need at least 5 sites for my research this is number 3! Btw I’m in middle school.
          With many questions,

          • Weekend Bakers says:

            Hi Zoë,
            It’s been quite a while since we looked into these type of sites. Good places to start would be the US food and drug administration center for food safety and nutrition. Also books and magazines and encyclopedia on food science and technology. Publications by E.J. Pyler on baking science and technology. A very good book we can recommend is ‘How baking works’ by Paula Figoni.
            Hope this helps you to find new entries for your project.
            Good luck with it!

            Ed & Marieke

  4. Marco says:

    Hi Ed & Marieke,

    Impressed by your website and the vast amount of knowledge and experience you have gathered and shared on your site. Truly excellent and great look and feel of the site as well.

    Regarding the topic of the temperature I assume the real question is how you to predict after how much time your dough is ready for baking. Apart from the temperature (and hence activity) the amount of yeast added would greatly influence the pace of proofing I presume. These appear to be the parameters to control. On this matter some questions which aim at establishing some kind of model that could predict the optimal state of the dough before baking. Understood this is virtually impossible, but nonetheless it feels there is a common denominator in all the recipes that would allow for something like that.

    1 – Would it be too simple to state that halving activity (non-linear relationship with respect to temperature understood) should double your proofing time? And in a similar way halving the amount of yeast doubles the proofing time as well? I’m trying to find a model that makes it easier to “steer” time of baking and make sure bread is ready to eat at lunchtime. Often find myself having a bread ready just after lunch because of the proofing/baking/cooling in the morning…

    2 – In addition to this I’m wondering if the use of diastatic malt impacts the proofing time or whether it only contributes to the structure and flavour of the bread.

    3 – the numbers of time the dough is being worked and proofed varies per type of bread / recipe it seems. Is there a rule of thumb for the optimal number of cycles? More is always better (to a certain limit of course)?

    4 – distribution poolish / sour dough / dried yeast. If I would want to play around with the % of poolish, sour dough and dry yeast, is there a “conversion rate” that can be applied?

    Apologies for the many questions, hopefully you will find an occasion to reflect on it.


  5. ravinder jit singh maan says:

    hello / mam / sir
    my self chef ravinderjit singh maan in working in Tanzania east Africa as an executive baker and we r facing so many problem in bakery , some time bocz of cooking oil and some time of bread flour . and im regular reader of ur web side and its help me alots of to solve my problem . i realy thanks full to u
    with regards chef ravinderjit singh maan

  6. ranjgbar says:

    very good .

  7. thomas says:

    If my ambient temperature is often 30ºC as if often the case, what do you recommend to be the surrounding temperature of the dough for the second proofing before popping into the oven. Also, what should be the ideal dough temperature?

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Thomas, we try to aim for a dough temperature of around 25ºC, this way with a room temperature of around 20ºC gives us good and stable proofing times. When your room is about 30ºC you can use cold water to get to a dough temperature of 20ºC and wait for the room to warm it up to around 24ºC during proofing. This way you get the same as we have, but just the ‘other way’ around.

  8. Brian says:

    General Mills published an article that will make your calculation of the water temperature necessary to get your dough to 80 degrees F at the end of your mixing process. They did this for professional baker so the added in the heat created by the mixer friction to. This might help you.…chart.ashx

  9. Greg Morgan says:

    My recipe says mix up dough and let prove for 12 hours which would be 6 am. The problem is I have mixed the dough but due to a change in my schedule I will need to leave home before 6am and won’t be home till later that afternoon.
    So I need to extend the proving time so I can bake it around 6 pm.
    I assume that if I put the dough in the fridge (which is about 12 c ) that will slow it down ?
    In fact if slow proving means more flavour that should not be a problem – but will it be to cold and totally stop it or cause some other problem ?
    At what temperature does the yeast stop working.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Greg,
      No, this is an excellent idea, you should try it and see at what stage it is in after the fridge to judge if it needs some more proofing outside the fridge before you proceed with the recipe. The yeast will slow down a lot in the fridge but will not stop working (see the graph above).

      Good luck and happy baking!

  10. Simon says:

    nb heat does not rise, warm air does. :-)

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Thanks! That is indeed more correct, we will adjust it.

      Happy baking Simon,


      • Hugo says:

        Hi Ed en Marieke,

        Mijn probleem sluit een beetje aan bij dat van Henry hierboven, maar mij gaat het meer om de deeg temparatuur.
        Als ik een poolish maak en die laat staan bij 30 C (kan niet anders hier; de koudste plek in huis, haha), dan heb ik een probleem om mijn deeg temperatuur op 26 C te krijgen.
        Nu kan ik een poolish maken met minder water (80%) zodat ik de volgende keer weer ijswater kan toevoegen. Helpt al een beetje. Kan ook het zout in het ijswater gooien met extra ijsklonten. Gaat de temperatuur een aantal graden omlaag. Maar standaard hier:
        4xTdeeg – Tpoolish – Tmeel – Tomgeving – Twrijving = Twater
        Bij mij dus: 104-30-31-31-10=2
        Kan ik de poolish:
        -aanmaken met ijswater? Denk zelf van wel, want de temperatuur loopt snel genoeg op. Geen alternatief dan voor 12 uur staan.
        -de poolish in de koelkast zetten; hoe lang gaat dat duren? 24 uur, 36 uur of gaat gewoon niet lukken? Weet ik niet.
        -de poolish aanmaken, 12 uren laten staan en dan koelen? Uurtje of3. Koelkast temp = 4C. Gaat poolish kapot? Weet ik ook niet.
        -er gewoon niet aan beginnen? Hela!, zo zitten we niet in elkaar.

        Het uiteindelijke deeg kan ik in een verticale kneder kort kneden of vouwen, maar in beide gevallen heb ik te maken met een erg warme omgeving. Stenen tafel is ook 31 C. Airconditioning zou maximaal 5 graden uitmaken, maar een air in de keuken….goed voor als je mise en place staat te maken, maar als er wat op het vuur staat biedt dat ook geen soelaas.

        Door die warmte heb ik mijn deeg ook in ruim 30 minuten op 200%. Vraag me af of dit ook wel niet te hard gaat.

        Alvast bedankt.
        Grtjs, Hugo

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hallo Hugo,
          We hebben geen kant-en-klare antwoorden voor je over hoe je om moet gaan met dit soort temperaturen, gebaseerd op ervaring. De antwoorden die je zelf al geeft zijn allemaal valide. Zelf zouden we in jouw geval ook met name de koelkast inschakelen om de poolish langzaam te ontwikkelen. Je zegt dat de koelkast 4 graden is, dat is redelijk koud, dus de ontwikkeling zal wat langzamer gaan. 36 uur zal waarschijnlijk een goede eerste optie zijn. Als je kijkt naar het recept van de SFS (…ugh-bread/) dan zie je dat deze methode ook wordt gehanteerd. Dit recept zou een goede testcase zijn om te kijken wat hier uit komt onder jouw condities.
          Er zit maar 1 ding op en dat is een aantal rondjes experimenteren en tweaken om dichter bij het gewenste resultaat te komen. (wij vinden niks doen ook geen optie :)
          Kortom: beginnen met de koelkast en waarschijnlijk preferment vanuit koelkast meteen toevoegen aan rest van het deeg (zoals bij SFS ook).

          Succes ermee en houd het hoofd koel!

          Ed & Marieke

  11. Henry says:

    Hi all, seems like the comments are all related to how to keep the dough warm (i.e. most people are in cooler climate regions). I’m wondering if there are any practical ways to keep the dough cool during proofing? I’m in a region with climate that goes above 32c regularly in the summer and therefore would like to hear some of the practical suggestions for keeping dough (up to couple batches of 3kg dough) cool.

    I have try putting ice-pack underneath the bowl, etc, but the condensation from the sweating of the bowl gets water everywhere.

    Thank you up front.

  12. Petra Robinson says:

    I have a Thermapen and also use it to check the temperature of the bread when I pull it out of the oven, makes such a difference to the crumb when you get it right.
    I never checked the dough temperature but will do it when I bake next.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Can recommend it Petra, it really works and helps you a lot while proofing. Also when you know you have the right dough temp the proofing times given in a recipe (our recipes at least) are also very much in sync.

      • Siesie says:

        I also check the temperature of the bread when I pull it out of the oven and this is a great help. But how do I check the right dough temperature? Suppose the temperature of the dough is too high or too low, how can I correct this properly?

        • Weekend Bakers says:

          Hello Siesie
          The best way is to have the right water temp and aim at it to be as close as possible to the ideal temp.
          If it is far to cold you can use your oven as a warm proofing cabinet to get it up and you can just give the dough more time to develop. Too warm is more of a problem, because the yeast might be effected. You can use the fridge to try and get it down.

          Have a great baking weekend,

          Ed & Marieke

          • Bread by Ted says:


            I have read your article with interest. However, one main question came up in my mind related to water temperature to achieve the DDT. If you need to add water at say 40 C (104 F) because you have a cold kitchen, your yeast dies. So how to go about this? Instant yeast needs to be mixed with the dry ingredients as per product instructions, hence it will come in contact with the (too) high water temperature. Now you could add it later after initial mix of flour and water, but will it still mix well?

            Greetings from the Netherlands,

          • Weekend Bakers says:

            Hi Ted,
            You are right that it would not be a good idea to get yeast into direct contact with water of 40 C or over. Of course we do not do this otherwise our bread would look very different ;).
            Our aim is to get to the ideal dough temperature of around 25/26 C. Normally most of our rustic bread recipes use a poolish or preferment of some kind. The next day water is added to this mass. A big thermal mass to which a relative small amount of water is added. This water can be quite warm to get this whole mass, including the extra added flour which is probably also very cold, to the desired temperature. The yeasts in the preferment are already alive and kicking and the rest of the yeast or sourdough is often added after the phase called autolyse so not at the same time the warmer water is added. This way they will also come into a nice snugg environment of around the 25/26 C, which they like best. You can see how it works in our pain rustique recipe for example:…-rustique/

            Happy baking,

            Ed & Marieke

  13. Sarah says:

    I am knocked out by the thoroughness of your brilliant reply. So informed, so scientific and also understandable. Thank you. It will take the guess work out of my bread making forever. Never before realised before quite the mysterious connection between temperature and speed of proof and the taste. All makes sense. I’m off to buy a thermometer and to take the temperature of cupboards ….

  14. Steve Richardson says:

    Since reading this and buying a thermometer, I have been able to produce much more consistent results… Thank you.

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for the feedback. This is so good to hear because we might be convinced that it all works much more splendid this way but knowing that it works for other bakers too is the ‘ear on the bread’ :)

      Happy Baking!

      Ed & Marieke

  15. Ru says:

    Do you have a degree in chemistry?
    I really do like your composition and format of the page. Very informative!

    • Weekend Bakers says:

      Hi Ru,
      Thanks! No, not really, but I seem to have a brain that likes this stuff and is always keen on getting to the bottom of things, understanding the why next to the how.


  16. Marsha Hernoe says:

    I searched and found a Stove by Bosch that has a proofing setting.
    I would say not to purchased it for this if you have a good stove but,if you are contemplating buying a new stove this would be a good consideration. I’m very satisfied with it other than some breads it is a little to warm but mostly works great.
    My other option is I have under cabinet lighting under my cabinets and this works great when proofing alot of dough as I run a home bakery. I bring the dough up to tempt under the lights with plastic wrap then flip light off.
    Enjoy your post

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  18. J. says:

    Oh my…
    Interesting, thanks for posting!
    This is the one variable that I do not have under control. Yet. Although I’ve started to do bulk fermentation in a turned on/turned off oven, I still need to get a thermometer to find out what I’m doing exactly. For final proof overnight I put the dough in the cupboard under the stairs, which is cool and relatively constant. Right now I’m getting pretty good results, but of course when the weather changes I’ll have to rethink this strategy :).