Probing a dough to measure its final dough temperature

Final Dough Temperature (Finished/Desired Dough Temperature)

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Unlock the secret to consistent baking results – learn the importance of final dough temperature, how to effectively manage it, and find answers to all of your questions regarding final dough temperature in this post

Final Dough Temperature: Introduction

Just before we begin adding ingredients to the bowl and kneading the dough, there is one important concept to understand when making yeast-leavened dough: the temperature of the dough at the end of kneading, or, in “professional” terms, the final dough temperature (also referred to as “desired dough temperature” or “finished dough temperature”).

Final dough temperature is, quite literally, the “final” temperature of the dough at the end of kneading. But why is it important? And why do we need to consider and control it? We will soon find out.

The concept of final dough temperature may initially seem a little technical and complicated, but in practice, it is actually extremely simple – and I promise that you will quickly understand it. Fortunately, PizzaBlab’s Final Dough Temperature Calculator is available to help you achieve the ideal final dough temperature every time you make dough.

The ideal final dough temperature range is between 23-27 degrees Celsius or 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit (we will later explore the reasons for this).

In order to measure the final dough temperature, as well as the temperature of the rest of the dough ingredients, you can use an infrared thermometer or a probe thermometer. Note that a probe thermometer will usually be more accurate as it measures the “true” temperature inside the dough, rather than just its exterior.

Why Is Final Dough Temperature So Important?

So the question arises: why is it so important to aim for a specific final dough temperature, specifically within the temperature range mentioned above?

Firstly, this temperature range is ideal for the yeast’s aerobic activity phase, or, in simpler terms – it is the optimal temperature for the beginning of the fermentation process. A final dough temperature between 23-27°C will ensure that the yeast has the perfect conditions to start working in the dough; And when the yeast is happy – we are happy too.

Secondly, by consistently maintaining a final dough temperature within the mentioned range, we always start from the same “starting point”; For example, if we consistently finish kneading at a temperature of 24°C/75°F, theoretically (and in practice), every time we make the same dough (assuming all other factors remain unchanged, such as fermentation duration, temperature, and yeast quantity), we can expect the fermentation to progress at the same rate every time.

On the other hand, in a situation where we prepare the same dough under identical conditions, but the final dough temperature varies, we will inevitably encounter variations in fermentation; Sometimes the dough will ferment too quickly, other times too slowly, and sometimes it will be just right. Therefore, the key to achieving optimal dough consistency and performance lies in maintaining a consistent final dough temperature, specifically within the range mentioned above.

How Does Final Dough Temperature Affect Fermentation?

So, in addition to the effects described above ‘on paper’, how does the final dough temperature truly impact fermentation?

As you may already be aware, temperature is the primary factor influencing yeast activity, and consequently, the rate at which the dough ferments; The temperature of the dough at the end of kneading serves as the “starting point” for yeast activity, and as a result – directly impacts the fermentation speed:

  • The higher the final dough temperature, the faster the dough ferments.
  • Conversely, the lower the final dough temperature, the slower the dough ferments.

Note that when I refer to “faster/slower fermentation”, I am talking about the total duration of the fermentation process, regardless of whether it takes 1, 5, or 10 hours at room temperature or 24, 48, or 72 hours in the refrigerator. The final temperature of the dough significantly affects the fermentation process, so it is important to understand and regulate it carefully.

Since the final temperature of the dough affects its fermentation and maturation speed, we can adjust it to either speed up or slow down these processes according to our needs. For instance:

  • If we need to make an “emergency dough” that needs to be ready quickly, it is possible and advisable to finish kneading at a relatively high temperature, even as high as 29C/84F. This will result in a dough that rises and matures rapidly and will be ready in a short time.
  • On the other hand, if we intend to freeze the dough, we want it to cool down as quickly as possible after placing it in the freezer. Therefore, finishing kneading at a low temperature, like 18C/64F, will ensure that the dough freezes much better compared to finishing kneading at a final temperature of 25C/77F.

What Is the Ideal Final Dough Temperature?

In most cases and applications, it is recommended to have a final dough temperature in the range of 23-27°C or 75-80°F. However, if your final dough temperature falls outside of this range, there is no need to worry. Just keep in mind that the dough will ferment more slowly or faster.

One thing that should be avoided is reaching a final dough temperature of 32°C/90°F and above. When the temperature of the dough goes beyond 32°C/90°F, the gluten-forming proteins (glutenin and gliadin) start to denature, meaning they lose their ability to form gluten bonds; Therefore, this temperature is the upper limit and should not be exceeded.

On the other hand, if the final dough temperature is below 18°C/64°F, it will significantly slow down the fermentation rate and result in a “stiff” dough that is not easy to work with at the end of kneading. This may not always be a problem, but it can make it challenging to divide and shape the dough immediately after kneading.

What Should I Do if My Final Dough Temperature Is Too Low/High?

First of all, relax 🙂 As long as the dough hasn’t reached a temperature higher than 32°C/90°F, it is still OK. It’s important to understand that the fermentation pace of the dough will be affected by the final dough temperature, which means it may become over-fermented or under-fermented by the planned baking time. If possible, closely observe how the dough is fermenting and make adjustments if necessary; For example, if it’s not fermenting at the desired rate, you can move it to a warmer environment, or if it’s fermenting too quickly, you can move it to a colder environment.

Please note that placing the dough in the fridge or freezer to lower its final dough temperature is not an effective solution. This method will not correct the temperature of the dough, and it is not recommended.

When you place a large mass of dough in the fridge, it may take several hours for the core of the dough to cool down, and the larger the dough, the longer the cooling process will take (depending on the amount of dough, it can take 12-24 hours). During this time, the yeast is already active, and the dough ferments at the “original” final dough temperature. As a result, placing the dough in the fridge is ineffective for adjusting the final dough temperature.

The only exception to this is if you divide the dough into smaller dough balls, flatten them to about 1-2 cm thickness, and then place them in the fridge. A flat dough will cool much quicker than a large, round mass of dough. However, please keep in mind that this method is not very practical, so I do not recommend using it.

How to Control the Final Dough Temperature by Adjusting the Temperature of the Water

The final dough temperature can be adjusted by controlling the temperature of the ingredients, specifically the flour and water. Colder ingredients will result in a lower final dough temperature, and vice versa.

Out of the two, water is the easier ingredient to control in terms of temperature. Unlike flour, water can be easily heated or cooled, therefore – it is recommended to use water to control the final dough temperature.
While it is possible to use flour to control the final dough temperature (see note below), in most cases, it is simpler to adjust the water temperature, hence – this is the method I suggest using.

For cold water, you can use water from the fridge or a water cooler.
In the case of hot water (mainly applicable for manual kneading in a cold environment), you can heat the water in the microwave until it reaches the desired temperature.

It is possible to store flour in the fridge/freezer and use cold flour to control the final dough temperature, with or without adding cold water. However, it is important to consider that cold flour, especially if it comes from the freezer, takes longer to absorb water compared to flour at room temperature. This means that gluten development during kneading will be slower, kneading will take longer, and the dough will heat up more; Paradoxically, this may result in a higher final dough temperature despite using colder flour.

To calculate the required water temperature for a specific final dough temperature, a formula is used that contains the following variables:

Please note that you do not need to know the formula or how it is calculated – Simply enter all the variables into PizzaBlab’s Final Dough Temperature Calculator, and you will immediately get the water temperature required for the desired final dough temperature.

The formula for calculating the water temperature for a specific final dough temperature is as follows:

WT = (FDT * 3) – FT – RT – FF

WT = Water Temperature
FDT = [Desired] Final Dough Temperature
RT = Room Temperature
FF = Friction Factor

Using PizzaBlab’s Final Dough Temperature Calculator to Determine the Required Water Temperature

That’s it, we’ve reached the fun part – the actual calculation of the required water temperature based on the final dough temperature we’re aiming for.

To do this, all you need to do is visit the calculator’s page, input the data, and the calculator will then display the required water temperature. Simple, isn’t it?

If the calculator displays a water temperature below 0C/32F (which is only possible in the summer and when using a mixer that generates a significant amount of friction/heat during kneading), this means you need to add ice to the water. While there is a formula for calculating the amount of ice required to achieve a specific water temperature, I find it overly complex and unnecessary. Instead, if you frequently require water at temperatures below 0C/32F, it is best to use cold flour from the fridge – this will enable you to attain a water temperature higher than 0C/32F.

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