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*Published *2004

One of the most important skills a baker must learn is the ability to accurately control dough temperature. The benefits are clear and immediate: more consistency in fermentation and in bread flavor, and more predictability in the overall production schedule. If a dough is coming off the machine at 65Â°F one day and 80Â°F the next, there will not be uniformity in the results. For the professional baker who is filling the oven over and over, accurate dough temperatures mean there will be no long gaps when the oven is burning fuel but empty; neither will there be times when more bread is risen and ready to bake than can fit into the oven. Because the home baker is always at a disadvantageânot able to mix doughs to the level of strength that the professional can, and lacking good steamâit is particularly important to do absolutely everything possible to benefit the doughs. By mixing doughs that are in the temperature zone that most favors both fermentation and flavor development, the home baker is well on the way to making consistently high-quality bread. After all, with something so emphatically alive as bread dough, we must do all we can to keep the billions of toiling microorganisms happy. And we do so by providing them a temperature that encourages good gas production from the yeast (for loaf volume), and at the same time good flavor development from the *lactobacilli*. For the most part, the temperature zone that works best, particularly for wheat-based breads, is 75Â° to 78Â°F.

Desired dough temperature is not an exact science, and there are numerous variables that can alter the results. It is, though, the best tool at the bakerâs disposal for consistently mixing doughs that stay within expected temperature parameters. The calculation of desired dough temperature involves taking into consideration several factors. These factors are the variables over which we have no control when we enter the bakeshop or kitchen and prepare to mix the dough: the air temperature, the temperature of the flour, the âfriction factorâ of the mixer, and the temperature of the pre-ferment, if any. After figuring these, itâs easy and quick to compute the water temperature (the only variable over which we do have control).

Letâs assume that we want a desired dough temperature of 76Â°F. With a straight dough we multiply 76 by 3, and if there is a pre-ferment we multiply it by 4. The result is the total temperature factor. Once this factor is determined, the known temperatures are subtracted from it, and the result is the correct temperature of the water for the dough. Here are two examples:

Desired Dough Temperature (DDT) | 76Â°F | 76Â°F |

Multiplication Factor | X 3 (straight dough) | X 4 (dough with pre-ferment) |

Total Temperature Factor | 228Â°F | 304Â°F |

Minus Flour Temperature | 72Â°F | 72Â°F |

Minus Room Temperature | 68Â°F | 68Â°F |

Minus Preferment Temperature | n/a | 70Â°F |

Minus Friction Factor | 26Â°F | 26Â°F |

Water Temperature | 62Â°F | 68Â°F |

For the straight dough, water at 62Â°F gives us a final dough temperature of approximately 76Â°F. With a pre-ferment, water at 68Â°F yields a dough temperature of 76Â°F.

What is this âfriction factor,â and how do we come up with its value for our mixer? As a dough spins, heat is generated by the friction caused by the action of the dough hook and bowl on the dough. In the course of the mix, a considerable amount of temperature increase is directly due to the friction being generated, enough so that we must consider it when we make the computations for desired dough temperature (in fact, for doughs that mix for 3 minutes on first speed and 3 or 4 minutes on second, the friction factor for most mixers is in the range of 24Â° to 28Â°F, quite a substantial temperature increase). Several factors affect the amount of friction generated during mixing, such as the type of mixer being used (stand, spiral, oblique, or planetary), the length of mix time, the mixing speeds used, and the quantity of dough in the bowl.

There are a couple of ways to establish the friction factor for a given mixer. The first is to wing it: Make the calculations for desired dough temperature and ascribe, say, 26Â°F as the friction factor, then mix the dough as you normally would. After the mix, take the dough temperature and see how accurate the actual temperature is compared to the desired temperature. If the dough is, for instance, 2Â°F cooler than anticipated, decrease the friction factor by 2Â°F, and the next time you mix use this lower figure when doing your calculations. The more scientific method used to determine the friction factor for a given mixer is first to make a trial dough. But for this dough, water (and not friction) is considered one of the variable factors, and we arbitrarily decide on a certain temperature for the water. We take the temperature of the dough after mixing and use the results to calculate the friction factor. It is important to mix the dough as you normally would, for instance, 3 minutes on first speed and 3 minutes on second. Once we arrive at the amount of friction generated by that mixer and those mix times, we use that friction factor whenever we compute desired dough temperature. Here are two examples:

Actual Dough Temperature (After Mixing) | 78Â°F | 78Â°F |

Multiplication Factor | X 3 (straight dough) | X 4 (dough with preferment) |

Total Temperature Factor | 234Â°F | 312Â°F |

Minus Flour Temperature | 71Â°F | 71Â°F |

Minus Room Temperature | 73Â°F | 73Â°F |

Minus Water Temperature | 66Â°F | 66Â°F |

Minus Preferment Temperature | n/a | 78Â°F |

Friction Factor | 24Â°F | 24Â°F |

A true story: On September 1 a number of years ago, I was on the bread shift at the King Arthur Flour Bakery. The summer had been a hot one, and when I arrived in the early hours, the windows were all wide open. I took the temperature of the air, flour, and poolish, as the bread mixer does each morning (we know the friction factor and donât need to determine it each day), and calculated the water temperature for the French bread dough: I needed 34Â°F water. We keep large buckets of water in the retarder all summer, and I put some ice in a couple of them to bring the temperature down to the required 34Â°F. When I mixed the bread, the temperature came out at 75Â°F, just as I had wanted.

Four days later, I was again on the bread shift. Again the windows had been open wide overnight, but this time, the first early harbinger of fall had come down in the night on the winds from Canada. The bakery was chilly and coolâa delight! I took the temperatures of the air, flour, and poolish, and this time needed 96Â°F water for the French bread. I rubbed my eyes a couple of times, but put aside any incredulity and got that warm, warm water from the sink. Once mixed, I had French bread at 75Â°F. In the course of four days, the dough water had more than a 60Â°F change of temperature, and in both instances the final dough temperature came out where I wanted itâfor which I could only thank those quick calculations that are the heart of desired dough temperature.

Â© 2004 All rights reserved. Published by Wiley.