What is the right bread proofing temperature? Does it differ depending to the bread type?
What happens during the proofing process?
First and foremost, “what is proofing bread?” It’s what happens after the dough comes out of the mixing bowl until the bread “proves” it’s ready to go into the oven. Proofing is commonly divided into two stages: bulk fermentation and final rise.
The first rise, also known as “bulk fermentation,” occurs immediately after kneading. In this case, the batch of dough develops naturally in a container, sometimes with the addition of stretch and folds. During this stage, the dough becomes more mature and flavorful, allowing it to retain gas and hold shape better. Following the completion of bulk fermentation, the dough is divided and formed into its final shape, ready for the second rise.
What is the difference between proofing and bulk fermentation?
The same processes occur during the first and second rises. Throughout both, yeast produces gas. The distinction is that bulk fermentation and proofing have distinct goals. The dough matures during bulk fermentation by:
- Increasing its gluten network
- converting starch into sugars to feed yeast cells
- Creating organic acids
The dough continues to do all of these things during proofing, but the primary goal of the final rise is for the dough to rise until it is ready to bake.
Tip: The bread should have doubled in size during proofing. The poke test can also be used to determine when bread is ready to bake.
What happens if the proofing temperature fluctuates?
Yeast activity fluctuates depending on the temperature of the dough. When yeast is warm, it produces more gas as it burns through the sugars available to it. Once temperatures reach 68 degrees Celsius, gas production is halted (155F). The yeast is permanently deactivated at this point.
In cooler temperatures, yeast is still active, albeit at a slower rate. However, the enzyme amylase works best between 25 and 32 degrees Celsius (78-90F). Amylase is essential in bread dough because it converts starch in flour into simpler sugars known as monosaccharides. This is significant because complex sugars are too large to pass through yeast cell walls.
When a yeast dough is proofed below 25 degrees Celsius (78 degrees Fahrenheit), it quickly consumes the available sugars and the rise slows. As a result, it is not recommended to proof bread dough below 25°C (78°F) unless it is refrigerated. You can alsways use proofing ovens to get a stable temperature.
You might also want to read our article on How to Proof on Oven.
Selecting the Best Bread Proofing Temperature
The ideal bread temperature for proofing bread varies depending on the type of bread you’re making. High-volume bakers typically set their proofers to 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), whereas artisan bakers prefer slower rises and proof bread at temperatures close to 26 degrees Celsius (79F). Here are four important factors that change as the temperature of the dough rises:
Warmer temperatures cause dough to rise faster. This is excellent for expediting the baking process. In a busy bakery, the temperature of the proofing dough can be adjusted to either speed up or slow down specific batches of bread. This prevents oven bottlenecking by providing a constant supply of ready-to-bake bread.
When considering the effect of temperature on yeast activity, the proofing rate at 20C (68F) is half that of 30C. (86F). When dough is proofed at 20°C (68°F), it takes twice as long to rise as when proofed at 30°C (86F).
Aroma and flavor
Different temperatures are preferred by the enzymes and bacteria found in the dough. If the dough is proofed in warmer temperatures, it will be lightly flavored, similar to wine. It will be more aromatic at a cooler temperature.
When yeast activity is accelerated by raising the temperature, gas is produced quickly, but the dough may lack maturity. We can mix the dough for a longer period of time to strengthen the gluten network, but the dough will still lack crucial organic acid maturity. Underdeveloped bread may have unsightly irregular holes throughout the crumb, a condition known as “tunnelling.”
To improve the crumb structure of “quick bread,” ingredients such as ascorbic acid vinegar and soy flour can be added. Extending bulk fermentation, on the other hand, is a more natural and “artisan” way of improving gluten structure.
Bread slowly develops organic acids and ethanol, which give the dough maturity. This improves the dough’s gas retention properties and raises the acidity of the bread. A more acidic environment makes mould development more difficult and starch less able to recrystallize. This keeps bread softer and fresher for a longer period of time. Warmer, faster rises do not result in long-lasting bread without additional manipulation.
What effect does proofing humidity have on the finished bread?
Humidity is also beneficial to yeast fermentation. The moisture increases water activity, allowing the dough to ferment more easily. This increases the rate of carbon dioxide and ethanol production.
The advantages of cold-proofing temperatures
Proofing bread at temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) slows yeast activity. However, some dough maturation occurs naturally through hydrolysis. This is the process by which hydrated wheat breaks down into sugars. Cold proofing or bulk fermentation causes more complex starches to degrade.
This causes new flavors to emerge in the bread and often results in sweeter notes. During this time, the hydrated protein continues to form a tight-knit gluten network, which aids in the maturation of the bread structure. Here are some crucial dough adaptations after it has been proofed in the fridge.
Improved gluten structure allows for larger air pockets and a more “open crumb.”
Increased gluten extensibility improves gas retention (a more considerable rise and lighter texture)
If the dough is proofed for too long, it will lose its extensibility, resulting in a broken gluten structure.
The bread flavor and aroma will be stronger and sweeter.
Dough handling properties have improved (machinability)
It will take longer for the dough to be ready for the oven.
Continued air exposure increases the risk of over oxidation.
If the flour is not strong enough, there is a risk of collapse or gummy crumb.
Larger loaves may suffer from the core of the loaf remaining cold, reducing oven spring or turning out dense if the dough is baked from cold.
So there’s some good and some bad. In bread baking, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every change you make has an impact on the bread, both positively and negatively!
What effect does the final dough temperature have on proofing dough?
The final temperature of the dough (FDT) is the temperature of the dough after it has been kneaded. Getting the dough to the ideal temperature ensures the best possible start for dough fermentation. If you get it wrong, you might have to change the temperature of the proofing environment to get out.
To determine the ideal water temperature for each dough, bakers use a Desired Dough Temperature (DDT) formula. It calculates the temperature of the water based on the temperature of the flour and the temperature of the room. The goal is for the dough to be at the proper temperature at the end of mixing, which is known as the Final Dough Temperature (FDT). If the FDT is too hot or cold, the proofing environment can be cooled or heated to help the rise.
DDT basic formula:
DDT x3 – Room temperature – Flour temperature – 18 = Water temperature Example: For a 24C DDT, the room temperature is 25 degrees Celsius, and the flour temperature is 20 degrees Celsius:
The water temperature should be 9 degrees Celsius. This method is also applicable in Fahrenheit. Instead of 18, subtract 30.
How to Manage the Bread Proofing Temperature
To begin, a dough thermometer is required to truly master your final dough and proofing temperatures. Although laser thermometers are available, I prefer probe thermometers because they can take readings in the center of my doughs. Perhaps it’s just what I’m used to, but here’s what I use at home:
When managing a proofing environment, a proofer is used for the most precise control. They’re fantastic pieces of equipment! Furthermore, you can get one for your home baking station at a very reasonable price! The Brod & Taylor proofer shown below is of exceptional quality. It not only regulates temperature but also adds humidity to the proofing chamber! There’s no need to cover the dough to keep it from drying out, and your proofing times will be more consistent.
What is the ideal temperature for bread proofing?
The ideal proofing temperature varies depending on the type of baked goods. It will influence how the loaf looks, feels, smells, tastes, and lasts. It becomes more complicated when the first and final rises are at different temperatures. Here are some popular bread types, along with their recommended proofing temperatures and times:
Table of Imperial Proofing Temperatures
|Bread||Dough Temp||Proofing Temp|
|Pullman loaf – commercial||84F||100F|
|Sourdough Bread – light||77F||72-79F|
|Sourdough Bread – acidic||84F||88-94F|
|Pastries & croissants||69-75C||81F|
Please keep in mind that these times and temperatures are subject to the standard mixing time for each dough type. The first rise will be reduced if the dough is mixed for a longer period of time.
Why proof bread at 38 degrees Celsius?
We can also consider the yeast’s gas production route. When yeast respires in the presence of oxygen, it generates a large amount of energy. The alcoholic fermentation process takes over when repairing anaerobically (without oxygen) to produce ethanol alongside carbon dioxide. This method is less efficient, but the slower rise allows lactic acids and other organic compounds to develop and mature the dough.
The result is that gas production is slower at the start of proofing. As the dough warms, gas production increases. The inner core of the bread will not be as warm as the outer crust. When the dough temperature reaches 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit), the amylase enzyme becomes less effective, slowing gas production. This has two advantages:
There is now more room in the oven for the bread to be loaded.
Alternative enzymes and acid bacteria predominate, imparting additional flavor to the bread.
What is the ideal temperature for proofing artisan bread?
Artisan bakers prefer a cooler bread proofing temperature, typically between 25 and 32 degrees Celsius (78-90F). This decreases yeast activity, resulting in a longer development time, less kneading, more fermentation flavors, and a lower risk of over-oxidation. Many artisans include a bulk fermentation or final rise in the refrigerator overnight. This combines the advantages of cold fermentation without the need to work through the night.
What is the ideal sourdough proofing temperature?
Sourdough takes longer to rise than baker’s yeast because it is a less vibrant levain. Many bakers cold-proof sourdough, but it must also rise at higher temperatures. The ideal proofing temperature varies according to the species cultured in a sourdough starter. The ideal proofing temperature for sourdough bread is around 34 degrees Celsius (93F). Proofing at a higher temperature promotes the growth of acidic bacteria at a faster rate. This results in a quicker rise and a more lactic or yoghurt-like flavor. Lower temperatures cause the sourdough to rise more slowly, resulting in a more acidic vinegary flavor.
Proof your sourdough bread at 31-34 degrees Celsius to increase the acidity (88-93F). The ideal proofing temperature for a lighter, more aromatic loaf is 21-25 degrees Celsius (70-78F).
What is the ideal temperature for proofing rye bread?
Gluten is not present in rye flour. It constructs a structure capable of retaining gas using proteins known as pentosans. Rye bread rises best at around 27 degrees Celsius (81F).
What if the final dough temperature is incorrect?
The desired dough temperature (DDT) formula is only a guideline. Kneading by hand or in a mixer will also impart kinetic energy to the dough. This is known as the Friction factor, and it is represented by the number 18 in our formula (30 when using Fahrenheit). Any DDT formula is not always 100% accurate, and you will eventually forget to take readings! Here are some pointers on what to do if something goes wrong:
What should I do if the final dough temperature is excessively high?
If the dough is too warm after mixing, try lowering the temperature of the proofer. If I can’t do this, I’ll put it in the fridge for ten minutes to cool. It can then be removed and will grow at the expected rate.
What should I do if the finished dough is too cold?
Increase the temperature of the proofing environment to compensate if the dough is too cold. If you are unable to do so, I will place it in a warmer location for a short period of time to warm up. There will be no issue as long as the temperature does not exceed 38 degrees Celsius (100F).
What should I do if I fail to take a temperature?
All you can do is guess. For example, could you test another jug of water or another bag of flour? Then proceed with the formula. If you forget to take any readings and realize it halfway through mixing, take a reading of the dough as soon as possible. Because of friction, the final dough temperature will be slightly higher.
How to Manage Proofing Temperature in the Absence of a Proofer
It is difficult to achieve the ideal proofing temperatures at home without the use of a proofer. At home, simply place the dough in a warm area, such as near the oven. To keep the dough warm, move it around the house near different heat sources. It is not precise, but it will expedite things!
Many modern ovens have a proofing function that can be used to proof bread. Baked goods can also be proofed in an oven. Because this is likely to be set at a relatively warm temperature, expect a quick proofing dough! Other great places to proof bread include an oven or microwave with only the light turned on, as well as a homemade proofing box.
Is a DIY proof box required?
Constructing your own proofing box is a viable option. Making your own proofer allows you to make it as large or as small as you want. Learn how to make a DIY proofing box and other ways to prove bread at home without a proofer in my DIY proofing box guide.