Includes “How to Test Doneness with a Thermometer.”
You cannot bake bread without a good thermometer.
Yeast is very sensitive to temperature; you have to create the right environment for it to live and grow.
Most recipes are going to tell you to add water at 110 degrees. (In a bread machine it’s a closed environment with heat coming from the motor and for our bread mixes, we tell folks to add water at exactly 80 degrees.) But the goal is not to have bread dough at 110 degrees—that’s way too warm. The ideal temperature for the yeast to grow in bread dough is 79 degrees. Water at 110 degrees mixes with cooler ingredients and cools in contact with the air and, ideally, you have bread dough somewhere around 79 degrees.
How sensitive is yeast to temperature? A ten degree difference in temperature can change the rate of yeast growth by 100%.
But dough is not the only thing you will measure with a thermometer. You’ll use a thermometer to tell when the bread is baked.
For the bread to set, the internal temperature needs to reach 190 degrees for most breads. The color of the bread isn’t going to tell you that. Thumping the loaf will not tell you that.
To measure the inside temperature, turn your baked loaf out into your gloved hand or a kitchen towel. Turn the loaf and from the bottom, stick the temperature probe into the center of the loaf. It should read 190 degrees. If not, set it back into the pan and bake it for another 5 minutes.