The Importance of Dough Temperature in Breadmaking

The dough temperature is one of the most important aspect when it comes to bread making because it impacts fermentation, which then affects volume, flavour and texture.

In today's experiment, we are going to test how the kneading temperature affects the dough and final result.


Kneading temperature refers to the temperature of the dough just after it has been kneaded.



To read the dough's temperature, insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of the dough as shown above. Once the temperature stabilizes, you'll be able to record the reading.



Kneading temperature is crucial for fermentation and yeast activity, which determines bread fermentation and rise. Yeast thrives in warm environments, with its ideal temperature range between 28-35°C. Its activity diminishes at around 45°C and ceases completely above 60°C.

If kneading temperature is too low, it slows down yeast fermentation, prolonging the rising process beyond the required time. 

If kneading temperature is too high, the excessive heat triggers over fermentation, which leads to defects in the dough.

Therefore it is important to monitor kneading temperature to ensure optional fermentation and consistency in dough. Kneading temperature should be measured as meticulously as we accurately measure ingredients amount.

This is because kneading temperature significantly impacts dough handling and final bread quality.



For general bread dough, the ideal temperature would be between 26-28°C. For doughs with a high proportion of fats, such as brioche, the ideal dough temperature should be about 24°C to prevent the butter from melting.

Even if temperature can run slightly off, it shouldn't be more than +/- 2°C.



In our attempt to show you how the kneading temperature affects the dough, we are going to prepare two batches of dough with different kneading temperature:

  • Dough A: Kneading temperature at 28°C
  • Dough B: Kneading temperature much higher at 33~34°C



After kneading, the only difference between both doughs was that Dough B was a lot stickier to handle.  


Both doughs were left to ferment in the exact same condition and duration but we could see quite a vast difference between both doughs.

  • VOLUME: Dough A has only doubled in size whereas Dough B tripled in size.
  • TEXTURE: Dough A is firmer to touch, whereas Dough B is flatter, and more sticky.
  • SMELL: Dough B also had a very strong yeasty smell. With the kneading temperature being too high, this may cause the yeast to work too quickly, causing a sourish, alcohol smell.



Both loaves were proofed for the same amount of time, and baked at the exact same temperature and duration. However after baking, the difference between both loaves were very apparent. 

  • VOLUME: Dough A achieved good oven spring and rose with good volume, but Dough B did not rise as high. If the kneading temperature is too high, the yeast activity is weakened and overworked, affecting the yeast performance hence why the dough achieved a much lower volume.
  • COLOUR: Dough A achieved a darker and shinier golden brown colour whereas Dough B had a lighter finish. 


Why is there such a huge difference in the crust colour? 

During fermentation, yeast consumes sugars present in the dough. The remaining sugars after fermentation are known as residual sugars; which contributes to imparting a desirable golden brown onto the crust as the residual sugar caramelizes during baking.

Yeast activity is influenced by dough temperature. So in Dough B, warmer kneading temperature led to heightened yeast activity, causing them to work more vigorously and overly digest the sugar content. This results in breads with lower residual sugar content, producing a lighter, less shiny crust.



When sliced, we also found that there is difference even in the crumbs. 

  • TEXTURE: Dough A had soft, silky crumbs, whereas Dough B had uneven air bubbles and large irregular holes. 
  • FLAVOUR: Dough A was moist and tasted good, but Dough B was slightly drier and was sour in taste with a strong yeasty smell. 

Dough B with a higher kneading temperature demonstrated characteristics of overproofed bread. 



In summary, our test concludes that subtle variations in kneading temperature can have a noticeable impact on the dough's consistency, baking time, and the overall quality of the bread. From the volume, to the texture and even taste. 

For consistent and successful bread baking, it's crucial to monitor kneading temperature.