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Temperature Influences on Bread as it Bakes

By Tabitha Alterman


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If you've been frustrated by trying to bake bread at home, learning something about what is happening as a loaf cooks can be helpful. The following chart is from Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman, director of the Bakery and Baking Education Center at King Arthur Flour. (You can read my recommendation of the cookbook here.)

77˚ to 122˚F (25˚ to 50˚C):Rapid increase in yeast fermentation; increase in enzymatic activity; beginning of crust formation; starch swelling; accelerated gas production and expansion contributing to oven spring

122˚ to 140˚F (50˚ to 60˚C):Rye starch begins to gelatinize; bacteria die; enzymes in yeast are inactivated; yeast reaches thermal death point (at about 140˚F)

140˚ to 158˚F (60˚ to 70˚C):Wheat starch begins to gelatinize; loaf expansion slows; coagulation of gluten begins; amylase enzymes reach maximum activity

158˚ to 176˚F (70˚ to 80˚C): Gluten coagulation is complete and dough structure is formed; enzyme activity decreases; rye starch gelatinization ends

176˚ to 194˚F (80˚ to 90˚C):Wheat starch gelatinization is complete; enzyme activity ceases

194˚ to 212˚F (90˚ to 100˚C):Maximum internal loaf temperature is reached; crust coloration begins

212˚ to 350˚F (100˚ to 177˚C):Maillard reaction develops crust color; ketones and aldehydes form, eventually contributing to flavor and aroma

300˚ to 400˚F (149˚ to 204˚C):Further crust color and flavor development through caramelization