Did you know there’s one simple tool that could revolutionize your bread baking forever?
that tool? It’s a digital thermometer.
If you’re thinking that the last thing that you need in your kitchen is another tool, no worries. Digital thermometers are generally about the length of an everyday spoon and less than 2 inches wide.
When it comes to cost, some digital thermometers cost as little as $5.
So how will this simple tool make help you improve your bread baking? By verifying the temperature of the liquid used to dissolve your yeast. At a temperature range between 105- and 110-degrees (Fahrenheit), yeast thrives and produces a light, high-rising loaf of bread. Once your liquid falls within this temperature range, you can be certain your yeast won’t be killed by liquid that’s too hot. You’ll also know that it’s warm enough to start working in your dough once you’ve combined all the ingredients.
If you use an instant-read thermometer, it will take you about two seconds to check the liquid temperature. If you opt to use a less expensive model, it may take up to 10 seconds. The step adds very little time to your bread baking process and contributes greatly to the quality of your loaf.
So, what kind of digital thermometers should you use in baking bread? There are numerous types to consider.
- The least costly digital thermometer that I’ve come across, $5.49, will work just fine for this task. Since it’s being used for a few seconds each time, it’s likely to last for many years.
- Higher priced digital thermometers range from $10 to more than $30. The one I currently use cost $13 and has worked just fine for the past two years. If I find I need to replace it, I will try the less costly option to see how it holds up.
- Instant-read thermometers are very convenient, but much more costly. Prices often begin at the $80 range. While the convenience is nice, it’s not necessary to accomplish the task of verifying the liquid temperature.
If you’ve never used a digital thermometer in your kitchen before, you may find that you like it and can justify paying a higher price for one. It’s all a matter of personal preference.
Whichever model you select, I highly recommend implementing the practice of checking your liquid’s temperature, especially if you’ve struggled to produce satisfactory loaves of bread. This step, in combination with the use of a bread machine, took my bread baking results from disappointing to amazing.
And what role did the bread machine play? Since the mixing and kneading take place in a canister, you can warm the canister before placing your ingredients inside it. This helps maintain that ideal temperature range you set up by checking your recipe liquid. Your bread dough will start at an ideal temperature range and remain there until it’s baked in the bread machine or, you prepare it for the final rise to bake in your oven.
If you decide to bake the bread in your oven, warm your bread pan before coating it and placing the dough in it. Complete the final rise inside your warmed oven (just don’t leave the oven on during the rise time) or in an area where you can manage the temperature to help keep it warm (90-100 degrees is ideal).