Temperature of Ingredients

Understanding oven temperature is an important skill in baking! In this post, you will learn the importance of using an oven thermometer, common baking temperature ranges, and so much more!

Cakes and cookies often require softened butter (65 to 67 degrees) and room-temperature eggs and milk. Softened butter creams easily, and room-temperature eggs and milk are more easily incorporated than cold. The additional mixing necessary to incorporate cold ingredients may adversely affect the batter and ultimately, the texture of the baked good.

Judging When the Butter is Properly Softened

A. The butter should bend with little resistance and without cracking or breaking. B. The butter should give slightly when pressed but still hold its shape.

Warming Butter and Eggs Quickly

If you can’t wait an hour for butter and eggs to come to room temperature on their own, here’s what to do.

Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and then place in a bowl wrapped in a warm damp kitchen towel. Alternatively, place on a plate and microwave at 10 percent power for 1 minute and continue to microwave as needed. Eggs are even easier to warm—just put whole eggs in a small bowl of warm water (about 110 degrees) for about 5 minutes.

When properly softened butter should bend with little resistance.

Softened butter should give, but hold shape when pressed.

To warm butter quickly, one option is to place in a bowl wrapped with a warm damp kitchen towel.

The temperature of the ingredients you use when baking plays a role in the taste, texture, and overall success of the baked goods you prepare. Learn how to know when to use room temperature or straight-from-the-fridge cold ingredients and why it makes a difference.

Baking is a science that relies on precision and the success of a series of chemical reactions occurring among the ingredients.

If you want the best results, it is important to pay attention to details like what oven rack position to useand the temperature of your ingredients.

Although we all may get in a rush and lack the patience necessary to bring butter and eggs to room temperature, it is important to the taste and texture of some baked goods. Cold ingredients will not create the air bubbles necessary for fluffy cakes and thick cookies.

And yet, pie crust will never be flaky with room temperature butter, so cold ingredients are a must.

Recipes normally tell you that butter needs to be softened and occasionally may mention room temperature eggs, but what about ingredients like milk or sour cream? How do you know when straight from the fridge is okay?

This post is going to explain why it is so important to have ingredients at the right temperature and how to confidently know what temp is right for the baked goods you’re preparing

Baking sourdough bread at home certainly comes with challenges (or, as my enigmatic calculus professor used to tell me, opportunities for continuous growth). Baking bread at home with a consistent outcome has even more, ahem, opportunities. But one of the most critical facets for successful sourdough bread baking is learning to always monitor and adjust the dough’s temperature to get it into an optimal range for vigorous fermentation. This will help produce consistent loaves of bread with a tall rise and the most flavor.

Like a frog in a pot, sometimes we don’t even realize temperature change is happening.

I’d argue that temperature is the most important aspect of the bread-making process because it greatly impacts fermentation, which is the backbone of sourdough bread. And, of course, maintaining a consistent and sufficiently high dough temperature becomes even more difficult when ambient temperatures begin to drop (hey, winter!) or when they’re in flux (as they often are in a typical home kitchen). Like a frog in a pot, sometimes we don’t even realize temperature change is happening.

Often, we blame our sourdough starter if the dough is slow to rise or if the final loaf has lackluster flavor: it just wasn’t as lively as usual, we say, or maybe we forgot to feed it last night, we confess. While sticking to a dependable starter maintenance routine is essential, sometimes the dough’s temperature (too low or too high) is at fault. We must make simple adjustments to ensure the dough is at the right temperature for optimal fermentation activity.

Let’s first look at why temperature is so important when baking sourdough bread in the first place.

Most avid bakers know how to throw a recipe together loosely and find moderate to successful results. Any baked confection made with enough flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and a small amount of baking powder or soda will come out somewhat tasty. Chances are, if you’re throwing a random cookie recipe or even a sheet pan vanilla cake recipe in the oven on a whim, you’ll set the baking temperature at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

There’s something about 350 degrees that just feels safe. There must be a glimmer of truth somewhere in the culinary hive mind that recipes won’t be scorched or ruined if ingredients are baked long enough at this non-threatening degree. But why does this exact temperature feel reliable to us?

Sure, there was a time in history when our ancestors had to bake their food over homemade pits filled with burning hot coals from well-managed fires. With the passing of years, technology led to advancements in the culinary world. Cast iron stoves became a modern convenience in the 18th century. With the invention of gas and electric stoves in the late 1800s, ovens became more manageable for the everyday home cook. But before the mid-20th century, most ovens operated on a three-temperature scale which ranged from warm to hot. Further advancements in oven-dial technology led to more specificities in recipes, and our love for a reliable median temperature was born.

What’s so special about 350 degrees?

When we look at the science at play, there are some amazing chemical reactions that occur when ovens heat. For one thing, there’s a solid rationale for why every cook needs to understand the Maillard reaction. Right around 285 degrees Fahrenheit, flavor development takes on a new meaning when protein and sugar react, lending a rich, deepened color to your favorite baked goods. Caramelization also takes place around 320 degrees. These two chemical reactions not only change the appearance of food but also develop the complexity of flavors.

The most important takeaway here is that at 350 degrees, a number of valuable chemical reactions take place at a moderate temperature. But what happens if set your oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for a recipe that calls for a 350-degree cook time? Will your resulting dish be impacted?

All ovens experience inconsistency in temperature

You probably didn’t know that most ovens aren’t always calibrated to exact precision. In fact, setting your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit allows for plenty of wiggle room. There are spots within your oven that often shift in temperature, and most modern ovens include a gauge that allows a set temperature to drop to a certain extent before the heat kicks on again.

Most ovens fluctuate around 20 degrees in either direction of the set temperature. That’s why periodically checking your oven’s temperature is absolutely essential. To do this, purchase a cheap oven thermometer, and place the gadget on the middle rack of your oven. Then, set your oven’s temperature and check the gauge periodically, while also paying attention to the extra details, such as how long it takes for your oven to preheat.

If your oven runs a bit hot or cold, there’s one easy way to fix this yourself. Keep a watchful eye — sometimes, adjusting the set temp will ensure your tasty treats are pulled out of the oven at just the right time. So, if you accidentally bake cookies at 325 degrees instead of 350, you may just need to keep them in the oven a tad longer. 350 degrees Fahrenheit may be the most common temperature, but this number also serves as a reliable baseline for bakers and continues to hold a considerable amount of variability.

It’s prime baking season, which means your kitchen and oven are working overtime. You may not realize that the temperature of your kitchen and the baking tools you use impacts your cooking. This is especially true when it comes to baking, which is a more exact science. Starting a baking project when your kitchen is cool in the morning will yield different results than if you bake later in the day, when your kitchen is warm from an oven that has been on for hours. Hot or cold, dry or humid — the temperature of the room and the temperature of the tools and ingredients affects the outcome of whatever you are baking.

We’ve pulled together some baking tips and advice from Food & Wine editors to help you become a better baker all year round.

Rest and Chill Your Cookie Dough

Resting your cookie dough (and your pie dough!) allows the ingredients to hydrate. This gives the moisture in the dough more time to absorb into the dry ingredients, which in turn improves the overall crumb and texture. You’ll also create a more rich and robust flavor profile, as the flavors will have had time to meld.

Chill Your Tools Before Making Whipped Cream

Whipping cream is one of the easiest tasks in the kitchen. These simple tips will help you be even more successful, whether you’re working in a hot kitchen or just want to expedite the whipping process

“Freeze your metal mixing bowl 15 minutes before whipping cream,” advises executive editor Karen Shizmu.

Start with using a metal mixing bowl and balloon whisk or whisk attachment for a stand mixer. Place the bowl and whisk in the freezer 15 minutes before preparing the whipped cream. A metal mixing bowl will cool much faster than a glass mixing bowl. We also recommend starting with cold whipping cream. The chilled bowl and cream will help you whip cream faster and create more volume. Be cautious while whisking though. Faster whipped cream means it’s easier to over whisk.

Start With Room Temperature Eggs

“Room temperature eggs are the secret to baking success,” says associate food editor Paige Grandjean.

Cold eggs equal stiff eggs. Warming eggs to room temperature gives them more flexibility, which means they can better do their job in a dough or batter. For example, if you just creamed butter and sugar together into a fluffy mixture, adding cold eggs will stiffen the mixture, eliminate the air you just whipped into the butter, and even curdle the mixture. Warm eggs are more flexible, allowing more air into the mixture without constricting the ingredients. Let eggs rest on the countertop for 1 to 2 hours until they are about 70 degrees.

If you find yourself baking dessert at the last minute, or forgot to pull out the eggs in time, don’t worry — there are a couple methods of gently warming eggs. You can place eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water to quickly bring them to room temperature. Or, try the glass method: Place a hot glass or bowl over the eggs on the countertop and let the heat gently warm them like an incubator.

Watch the Weather

What’s happening in the Earth’s atmosphere can greatly impact the baking experience in your kitchen. Here are our favorite hot-weather baking tips:

Baking in the summer can be difficult if your kitchen is hot and/or humid. A hot kitchen can make or break a cookie or pie dough. The fat melts making a pie dough crumbly and difficult to work with. Soft butter in the cookie dough impacts how a cookie rises. “Sometimes if the kitchen is hot, we’ll put ice packs out on the counter before working with dough,” explains Youngman.

“In the summertime, I like to bake first thing in the morning while my kitchen is still cool,” notes senior food editor Amelia Rampe.  If you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning, set up your workstation nearby to take advantage of the cool breeze.”

Meringues are an egg white mixture that is slowly dehydrated in a low-temperature oven. If you’re cooking in a humid environment, be prepared for a longer bake time. Or, save those recipes for cooler, drier days. “Candies and meringues work best at low humidity,” says Grandjean.

Ideal cooking temperature

Crunchy bread or juicy cakes – delicacies for the weekend or just to enjoy baking, make sure to have your thermometer at hand!

Check our temperature charts for preparing your favorite cookies

If you thought that checking the temperature of your food only applied to meat, you are wrong! Cooking your baked goods to safe internal temperatures is equally as important. Many baked goods contain eggs, which can play host to harmful bacteria.

Even if your baked goods do not contain eggs, it’s important to check the temperature to ensure that your pastry gets fully cooked. From scones to cinnamon rolls, our baked goods internal temperature chart will help you bake your goods to perfection every time.

Fahrenheit and Celsius Cooking Temperatures

Taking the temperature of a beef roast is done by inserting a meat probe into the center most thickest part of the roast. Depending on what you are preparing from the roast determines the final cook temperature, the pull temperature, and how long you rest it before slicing it. If it is being served as a pot roast, you are going to cook it until it is done, 160⁰F or 71⁰C, of it is for sandwiches like sliced roast beef, you will cook the roast to 135⁰F or 51.6⁰C. It is important to understand that roast beef is one of the meats, as with steaks, where you can cook the meat safely to any temperature you like. It isn’t like poultry or pork where specific temperatures has to be reached to make it safe to eat. Always refer to a meat cooking temperature chart and use either a ChefsTemp Final Touch X10 Instant Read thermometer or a ChefsTemp Quad XPro oven probe thermometer with long distance remote.

Grilled chicken should be cooked to 165⁰F and pulled and then allowed to rest for at least 10 minutes to allow carry-over cooking to get it the rest of the way done. One thing about grilled chicken is if it is bone-in, skin-on, the chicken will cook better than boneless skinless chicken breast, and the bone and skin also impart more flavor to the chicken. It is something to consider the next time you are going to grill chicken; the skin and bone also help to protect the meat against drying out as well.

Hamburger meat is one of the cuts of beef needing to be cooked to at least 155⁰F. The reason for the higher temperature is E. Coli bacteria, which is deadly. It usually occurs in commercial meat processing plants when cleanliness standards are not being met. However, if you buy your own meat/sausage grinder and grind your own hamburger from fresh cold chunks of beef, it is perfectly okay to cook it medium rare. But that is the only exception.

Here we provide you with beef burger full recipe for you.

The act of searing is to brown meat quickly by exposing it to very high heat in a frying pan/skillet, or under a broiler. This will seal in the meat’s juices by generating a caramelized outside crust.

When practicing how to sear a steak to the optimum internal temperature use an instant read meat thermometer. See below for basic temperatures for different degrees of doneness and remember to account for carry-over cooking and resting which will continue to cook the steak.

Meatballs are basically little round meatloaves. Making meatballs up and then checking the temperature for doneness is best done with an instant read thermometer. Meatballs are mixed up with spices, herbs, breadcrumbs or rice, eggs, and milk. Usually, a mixture of beef or veal and ground pork, and then cooked for consumption. You can cook them in the oven or pan fry them. I personally prefer to cook them in the oven unless I am making meatball soups, then the meatballs are cooked in the soup broth.

If you want delicious boneless chicken breasts, there are several ways to cook it. If you want a healthy meal you can cook it in the oven or stir fry it with your favorite vegetables.

Put your chicken breasts in a baking pan and add some oil. Then marinate it with lots of garlic ginger paste, lemon, carrots, or vegetables and bake it at 350°.

If you don’t want fat then remove the skin. Most of the fat in chicken is contained in the skin.

Using pork or lamb chops to make a stew is easy. First, you must have a very accurate chefstemp thermometer in hand. Taking the meat off the bone, then season the meat and dredge it in seasoned flour. Brown it in a little bit of butter mixed with olive oil.

Once you have it browned, remove it from the pan, add onions and sweat the for about 3 minutes, add the garlic and sweat it for two more minutes, then add your celery and carrots and cook them for 5-7 minutes. Add your potatoes and your broth. For pork stew use chicken broth, and for lamb use beef broth.

You could also add the bones to the pot; however, you will need to remove the bones when you finish making the stew. Bring the broth and vegetables up to a boil, then add the meat back to the pot and reduce the heat to a slow simmer. The flour on the meat, and the flour in the pot will thicken the stew naturally at a slow simmer.

The most common sized turkey on the shelf is a 12–16-pound bird. This is the perfect size for a family of 8-10 people and is a wonderful size for roasting. We would like to provide you the most hands off approach  method of thaw a turkey.

It can be! If you want a healthier barbecue, lower the temperature of your grill to prevent the meat from burning. You can use Chefstemp instant read thermometer to make sure the meat won’t be overcooked. Always marinate the meat to generate a barrier between it and the development of HCAs. You can always switch to seafood, which forms fewer HCAs and involves a briefer cooking time. Choose leaner meats and cut the fat off before grilling. This will reduce the fat dripping and flare-ups

Reduce grill time by oven-roasting or pan-searing your meat first. Make sure that you always wash your grill after use to evade shifting leftover chemicals Chop your meat into smaller helpings to decrease the cooking time.

Rare lamb is actually the Chefs preferred way to serve lamb, not everyone likes rare, 125⁰F, but most people will eat a medium rare lamb chop. Two things about cooking lamb rare which are important when deciding what temperature range to cook the lamb to. First is lamb cooked rare has a milder flavor because the fat in the chops hasn’t melted and incorporated into the meat, second is the meat hasn’t cooked long enough for the protein strands to shrink and solidify, making a more tender chop. If you can eat it rare, I recommend you do so, if you can’t, then don’t cook it past medium rare, and pull it as soon as it gets to temperature.

Getting the right temperature is a top priority when it comes to cooking chicken to ensure safety. It is also crucial to make sure that the meat stays juicy, tender, and succulent. It takes a balance between both but once achieved, you can enjoy your chicken however you like to prepare it.

https://www.chefstemp.com/chicken-internal-temp/ In this guide, you will learn the secret to a perfectly cooked chicken.

If the tip of the thermometer probe is too near the surface of the meat cut or near a bone, you will not get an accurate reading. Experiment with the temp probe placement – it is most accurate when the tip is in the center of the meat portion. If you have several cuts of meat, move the thermometer to several portions to compare how even everything is cooking.

Any food cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165⁰F can be put out at room temperature and served. If you do not use chafing dishes with lids to maintain the temperature of 145⁰F to keep the food out of the temperature danger zone, then you have a limited amount of time to leave the food out. BBQ pork can be left sitting out at room temperature, covered, for no longer than 4 hours. After 4 hours the food will need to be refrigerated or reheated. If you choose to reheat the food, you must reheat it to 165⁰F and at this point you could leave it at room temperature for an additional 2 hours, afterwards the food must be discarded. The rule is you can only reheat food once and then any leftovers must be discarded.


What Does Room Temperature Mean?

When talking about baking ingredients, room temperature is between 65° to 70 F° (or 18° to 21°C). At this temperature butter is soft, but not yet looking greasy or starting to melt.

If you leave butter sit out for too long and it starts to melt, stick it back into the refrigerator for a few minutes.

The majority of baking uses room temperature ingredients. This is how baked goods with a cohesive dough or batter will turn out best.


When creaming room temperature butter with sugar, the sugar crystals dig out air pockets in the butter which is what you need for tender, fluffy baked goods.

But if your butter is too cold, the crystals can’t effectively create these necessary air bubbles in the hard butter. Your cakes and cooks will come out flat and without the texture you’re looking for.

And if the butter is too hot, it will melt and the bubbles will disappear.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN BUTTER IS ROOM TEMPERATURE?Press your finger into the butter, and if it makes an indent easily without your finger sliding away, the butter is soft enough. It should still look waxy and not shiny or greasy.

It is important to use soft butter or cream cheese when mixing frosting for cakes and cupcakes. You can’t have a smooth frosting with chunks that won’t mix in because they are still too hard to cream.


When you beat or whisk a room temperature egg into a dough or batter, the egg’s protein traps the air bubbles leading to a lighter textured baked good. Cold eggs have a hard time coming together in the batter.


Eggs whites can be whipped up to eight times their volume, but only when the eggs are at room temperature. They are looser when warm so it is easier and faster to incorporate air into them.

Most baking recipes with room temperature butter also include other dairy products like milk, cream cheese, or sour cream. These ingredients must also be room temperature to keep the batter smooth and the emulsification successful.

If a recipe calls for melted butter, it should be brought back to room temperature and not added to the ingredients while it is hot.

How Warm Should Dough Be to Rise?

The warmer a sourdough bread dough, the faster it will ferment and rise. A dough should be warm enough to encourage lively fermentation and flavor creation but not be so warm that it quickly overproofs. For most recipes here, I target a final dough temperature between 75°F to 78°F (24 to 25°C).

Bacteria and yeasts function optimally at different temperatures: 89°F (32°C) and 80°F (27°C), respectively. However, these temperatures are relatively high, so finding a happy medium at around 78°F (25°C) results in a dough that’s warm enough to have ample bacteria and yeast fermentation activity but not so warm that you end up with a dough that ferments too quickly and becomes sticky, hard to handle, and overproofs.

For doughs with a high percentage of whole grains, I typically reduce the desired dough temperature (DDT) to around 75°F (23°C) to avoid overproofing. Whole grain doughs have increased bran and germ particles in the flour, which increases fermentation activity.

What Happens if My Bread Dough is Too Warm?

If you drastically overshoot the desired dough temperature, it can produce a sticky dough that quickly overproofs.

To remedy a dough that’s too warm: put the bulk fermentation container with the dough, covered, into the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes at the start of bulk fermentation to help bring the temperature down.

What Happens if My Bread Dough is Too Cold?

If a bread dough is cold, even if it’s just a few degrees below the desired dough temperature, it might result in a much longer bulk fermentation and/or proof time. In this case, be flexible and wait to divide or bake the dough until it displays the signs it’s ready to move on to the next step in the bread-making process.

To remedy a dough that’s too cold: put the container with dough, covered, into a warmer spot in the kitchen (or a home dough proofer; more on this below) until the temperature reaches the desired dough temperature.

Next, let’s look at measuring and monitoring dough temperature because, well, without the ability to measure, it’s hard to ensure the temperature is where we want it to be.

Why is oven temperature important?

Oven temperature is important so that your baked goods bake correctly. If your oven temperature is not correct, it can result in cookies that spread too much and cakes that don’t rise properly.

To make sure your oven temperature is correct, I recommend using an oven thermometer.

How to Monitor Dough Temperature

Monitoring a dough’s temperature is simple: stick an instant-read thermometer into the center of the dough and record the temperature.

I like to take the dough’s temperature at the end of mixing to record the final dough temperature in my baking notebook. I also record the dough’s temperature a few more times during bulk fermentation when I stretch and fold the dough—this is a great time to check in with the dough and see how fermentation is progressing.

My trusty Thermapen.

Some bakers will say you don’t need a thermometer and don’t need to monitor dough temperature—strictly speaking, this is true! People have been baking bread for centuries—way before the thermometer was even invented. However, I find investing in a few simple tools, with corresponding processes, helps me take away the guesswork and make steps towards increasing my bread-making consistency. A good quality thermometer (like my Thermapen) is one such tool.

Over time, as your baking intuition builds, reliance on these tools does subside, but to this day, I always take a minute (if that) to measure the dough temperature right at the onset of bulk fermentation. Why? It provides me with an intuitive sense of how bulk fermentation will progress. Is my dough temperature a few degrees lower than I expected after mixing? If so, I’ll either warm up my dough a little at the beginning of bulk, or I’ll plan for bulk fermentation to go a little longer than planned. Conversely, if I overshot my DDT, I know bulk fermentation will likely take less time and I’ll keep an eye on the dough to divide it earlier.

Now, let’s look at how to use temperatures to ensure our dough is on target.

What’s Next?

As bakers, I’ve talked about how we need to be acutely aware of our environment and treat temperature as importantly as our ingredients—and it is that critical: temperature is the driving force behind fermentation. To see how temperature plays a role in the final rise of sourdough bread dough, read through my guide to proofing bread dough.

Why Is It Important to Have Ingredients at the Right Temperature?

The temperature of ingredients plays an important role in how well your recipe blends together, which impacts the texture of your finished baked good.

  • When room temperature eggs, butter, and dairy products are blended in a recipe, they create an emulsion where air is trapped into the smooth mixture. That air then expands with the heat of the oven producing a light, fluffy baked good with uniform texture.
  • Cold ingredients in doughs and batters do not blend well, prohibit the desired emulsion, and lead to clumpy frosting, hole-filled cakes, and dense cookies. However, when making crust and baked goods like biscuits and puffy pastry, cold butter is what you want for a flaky texture.
  • Adding cold liquids or eggs to the room temperature butter and sugar you’ve creamed can shock, curdle, or harden the fat back into solid pieces. If you bake with this curdled mixture, you’ll have a bunch of little holes and tunnels in your cake where the butter chunks were and your batter will tend to rise poorly creating a dense, dome-shaped cake.
  • Cookie dough relies on the air pockets created from blending room temperature butter and sugar. This is how you are able to remove thick cookies from the oven rather than ones that have spread out thin and flat.
  • Some baked goods like muffins and quick breads are more forgiving than others. They won’t be ruined by using cold ingredients, but the texture will still be better if you first allow everything to come to room temperature.

How to Heat or Cool the Mixing Water

The easiest way to warm the mixing water temperature is to heat it in the microwave (my choice for convenience), over the stove, or draw warm water from the tap. To cool the water, use cold water from the fridge (I keep a container inside just for this) or drop a few ice cubes inside your water pitcher.

The jalapeño-cheddar dough at end of bulk fermentation.

Don’t Like Math?

I created a little tool to do all the math for you. Check out my common bread baking calculators page for a form to quickly do all these calculations.

Here’s a Dough Temperature Cheat Sheet

I have a cheat sheet for temperatures like this in my cookbook, but here’s a quick reference chart. The left shows what your kitchen temperature might be, and on the right, what you should warm your mixing water to so you get close to a final dough temperature of 78°F (25°C), the common goal for recipes at The Perfect Loaf.

When to Use Cold Ingredients

When baking, you want to use cold ingredients for any baked goods that have a flaky texture when done.

This includes pie and tart crusts, biscuits, scones, puff pastries, croissants, and danishes.

You also need to have cold cream when making homemade whipped cream so that it thickens.

It is important in these baked good to use cold butter because the fat needs to remain solid before going into the oven where the small pieces of butter mixed throughout the dough can melt and create pockets of flakiness.

Giving your ingredients time to come to room temperature when baking makes more of a difference that you probably ever realized. While your cookies and cakes may turn out perfectly fine using them straight from the fridge, isn’t it worth the 15 extra minutes that it takes to make them great?

How does Dough Temperature Affect Bulk Fermentation Time?

Note that this table is for illustrative purposes only and is my attempt to give a snapshot of how the bulk fermentation duration could change with varying temperatures. The table assumes all other factors are equal bake-to-bake (which is hard to ensure!) and is most accurate for the recipes and processes here at The Perfect Loaf.

In the chart below, you can see this idea depicted roughly in a diagram: as dough temperature increases the bulk fermentation duration decreases.

The bulk fermentation duration must decrease as the dough temperature rises to avoid overproofing.

How to Calculate the Mixing Water Temperature for Bread Dough

Water is often the largest ingredient in a dough, so it has the largest impact on the final dough temperature (FDT). This is an opportunity for us bakers because the water’s temperature is easily adjusted, allowing us to dial in the final dough temperature easily.

If we measure the temperature of other factors—flour, the levain or preferment, the room temperature, and take into account heat generated when mixing—we can do a simple calculation to figure out to what temperature we should heat (or cool) the water to reach a recipe’s desired dough temperature (DDT).

The best way to explain all this is to run through a real-life example.

(Psst! If you don’t want to do any math, read on for a dough temperature cheat sheet.)

Calculating the Mixing Water Temperature for my Beginner’s Sourdough Bread

What are the variables—temperatures—we need?

  • Levain or preferment temperature (this might be your sourdough starter, if you’re using that directly)
  • Flour temperature (usually the same as your room temperature)
  • Room temperature (use your Thermapen to measure this!)
  • Friction factor (see below)

What is a Dough Mixer’s Friction Factor?

My Famag spiral dough mixer can heat a dough considerably if left to mix for many minutes.

The friction factor temperature represents the amount the dough will heat up when mixed in a mechanical mixer. As the mixing apparatus (spiral, planetary, diving arm, etc.) spins the dough in a mixing bowl, heat is generated and must be accounted for. When mixing by hand, I typically set the friction factor to zero. The best way to determine the friction factor is to contact your mixer manufacturer or mix a test batch and measure the dough temperature difference before and after mixing.

So, back to our example, here are the temperatures I measured:

Mixing Water Temp = (DDT x 4) – (Levain Temp + Flour Temp + Ambient Temp + Friction Factor) 1Mixing Water Temp = (78 x 4) – (78 + 74 + 74 + 0)Required Mixing Water Temp = 86°F

We need to warm our water to 86°F (30°C) so that, at the end of our mix, our FDT will be 78°F (25°C).

Using an oven thermometer

I recommend using an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is calibrated correctly. Just because your oven says it’s heated to 350oF, doesn’t mean it actually is. To ensure your oven is running at the correct oven temperature, use an oven thermometer.

If you use an thermometer and it shows that your oven is slightly off, you can then adjust the temperature yourself. For example, if you set your oven to 350oF and the thermometer reads 325oF, then this means your oven is running 25 degrees cooler. You can then adjust your oven temperature and set it to a slightly higher temperature of 375oF.

Hang the thermometer in the center of a middle rack where most food cooks, to ensure a proper temperature reading.

Get more tips here on using your oven.

Ingredients Where Temperature Matters

The ingredients that need to be room temperature when baking are those that are typically kept in the refrigerator like butter, cream cheese, eggs, milk, buttermilk, heavy cream, sour cream, and yogurt.

Dry ingredients like sugar and flour are already at room temperature, although you may find that chilling your flour, water, and tools is helpful when making pie crust.

Rule of Thumb: If a recipe calls for room temperature butter, then the milk, eggs, and other ingredients should be room temperature as well.

Dough Temperature FAQs

The final dough temperature (FDT) is calculated right at the end of mixing, before the start of bulk fermentation.

Where is the best place to put the dough to rise?

A warm spot in your kitchen is the best place for bread dough to rise. Try to find a place that’s between 75°F and 78°F (24°C and 25°C) to encourage strong sourdough fermentation.

What happens if the dough is too warm?

If the dough is too warm, it can become sticky, hard to handle, and eventually overproof.

Will dough rise at room temperature?

Yes, absolutely. Room temperature can mean a wide range and is different for each room, but as long as the temperature is around 68 to 76°F (20 to 24°C), you’ll get rise in your sourdough bread dough. The cooler the temperature, the longer it will take for your dough to rise.

How long can you let dough rise at room temperature?

The time you let the dough rise at warm room temperature depends on the dough formula and the exact temperature. For most sourdough bread dough, a final rise time (proof) of 1 to 4 hours at room temperature is appropriate.

Where is The Best Place For My Dough to Rise?

Now that we know how to monitor our dough temperature and hit that all-important DDT each time, how do we ensure our dough maintains sufficient temperature through bulk fermentation and proof? As home bakers, this can be challenging because our doughs are usually smaller batches, which are more easily affected by temperature changes. Additionally, the home kitchen can also have drastic temperature changes due to heating and cooling. So, the trick is finding an optimal place for proofing dough.

These are my favorite places to let my sourdough bread dough rise:

  • Inside a small home dough proofer
  • Inside the home oven, closed and with the light on
  • Inside the microwave
  • In a warm spot in the kitchen; for me, this is on top of my refrigerator

Let’s look at each option in more detail.

Using a Home Dough Proofer to Maintain Dough Temperature

I’ve been using a Brød & Taylor dough proofer for several years. The electric proofer sits inside my pantry and runs 24/7, holding my sourdough starter (and a levain before a bake) at a comfortable 76°F (24°C) for optimal fermentation activity. Since purchasing this proofer, I have noticed a significant increase in the consistency of my bread because the temperature is so steady.

There’s enough room in the proofer to fit my starter (and even another levain) in a corner and my proofing bowl with 2kg of dough (see the picture below). This means I can have multiple bakes that are nice and warm at the same time.

Using the Brød and Taylor Folding Proofer to keep my starter and levain at a consistent temperature.

What you see above is typical for a morning in my kitchen: two levain and my starter (at left) in my favorite Weck jars. The proofer is plenty spacious, and I can even fit my bulk fermentation container with these three jars.

The proofer is dead simple to use. Input the desired temperature via the up and down buttons until the desired temperature is displayed. The entire bottom of the unit is a gentle heating element designed to run continuously and maintain the set temperature. They even make a shelf you can insert midway from the bottom to hold shallow bowls or trays.

In the beginning, I mentioned that adjustments could be made in bulk if we miss our DDT by a small margin (1 to 2 degrees). If my measured FDT is a little low, I’ll turn up the heat on the proofer by 5 degrees, so the dough mass heats up at the beginning of bulk. Then, at each set of stretches and folds (30 minutes apart), I take my dough out of the proofer and take the internal temperature. If the temperature is close enough to my initial target, I’ll set the proofer back to my DDT for the remainder of bulk.

When I have dough in bulk fermentation inside the proofer, I set it exactly to the formula’s DDT. As I said before, this is typically 78°F (25°C).

Because the proofer can adjust temperature rather quickly, we can speed up and slow fermentation (within reason). There are so many handy features of a home proofer, and I recommend reading my guide to using the Brod and Taylor Proofer for an in-depth discussion.

Using a Home Oven to Maintain Dough Temperature

A home oven is another great, convenient option for maintaining dough temperature. Place your starter or bulk fermentation container in the oven (that’s turned off) with an ambient temperature thermometer inside, and turn the interior light on. Usually, this light will generate enough heat to raise the internal temperature quite a bit—just keep an eye on that thermometer to ensure it doesn’t go too high. (Additionally, put a sticky note on the outside of the oven that says “Do Not Turn On!” so someone doesn’t accidentally bake your starter.)

Using a Microwave to Maintain Dough Temperature

A microwave is a small, sealed chamber, which is rather convenient for holding a starter, levain, or bowl of rising bread dough. I typically cover my bulk fermentation container or proofing dough, and then simply place it  in the microwave to help insulate the dough and keep it warm. If you want to warm up the dough, boil a small cup or bowl of water and place it inside the microwave alongside the dough.

Using a Warm Spot in Your Kitchen to Maintain Dough Temperature

Three versions of my starter spread throughout my kitchen to find a warm spot (spoiler: the one on the far left was warmest).

Every kitchen has warm and cool spots. As bakers, we seek these out over time and learn to place our dough (and our sourdough starter) in various locations depending on its temperature needs. The top of my refrigerator is always a few degrees warmer than the rest of the kitchen. In your kitchen, the warmest spot might also be next to a coffee machine, home oven, or other secret places. Find yours!

Note: For my sourdough starter specifically, I like to keep it in my Sourdough Home, a specially designed little unit that can keep my starter and precisely the right temperature.

Let’s Bake Together!

Why is Dough Temperature Important?

Temperature is the driving force in fermentation, and fermentation impacts sourdough bread volume, flavor, and texture. Warmer bread dough will ferment faster than colder dough, and strong fermentation will result in better bread. The longer the dough can ferment, the greater the opportunity the yeast and bacteria (primarily) can use to flavor the dough. But there’s a limit. If a dough ferments too long or is too warm, it can quickly overproof and degrade its structure, resulting in a poor rise in the oven.

It’s also important to keep dough temperature consistent throughout the bread-making process. If we can ensure temperature consistency, we know the dough will be in the same fermentation condition throughout the lengthy process. And further, if we maintain temperatures each time we bake, we make delicious bread every time.

In other words, we cannot expect consistent results each time we bake if our dough temperature is wildly different.

There are two dough temperatures that I measure and log every time I bake: the desired dough temperature (DDT) and the final dough temperature (FDT). And yes, I keep an extensive written record of my dough temperatures to refer to them for future bakes–all to produce consistently delicious loaves!

What is the Desired Dough Temperature?

The desired dough temperature (DDT) refers to the ideal temperature for the dough at the end of mixing, just before bulk fermentation begins. Each of my recipes includes a DDT as a guide.

How to Bring Ingredients to Room Temperature

The easiest way to bring baking ingredients to room temperature is to plan ahead. Leave the butter, eggs, milk, heavy cream, buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt you’ll be needing out on your counter for 30 to 60 minutes before starting your recipe. Cream cheese is harder to soften and may need a couple of hours.

If you forgot or are in a rush, here are a few ways to speed up the process:

Butter and cream cheese: Cut butter or cream cheese into small pieces and spread them out. The smaller pieces will come to room temperature in 10 to 15 minutes.

Eggs: Place uncracked eggs into a bowl and cover them with warm (not hot) water. Let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes while you get the other ingredients ready.

Milk and cream: Microwave liquids for about 15 to 20 seconds to take the chill off.

If your recipe calls for room temperature eggs that are separated (putting the eggs and yolks in at different times), be sure to divide the yolks and eggs while cold and then allow them to warm to room temperature.

Oven baking temperatures

325-350oF: (moderate oven)

For cooking, this is a good temperature when something needs to cook a long time, like slow roasts.When it comes to baking, this is what I usually set my oven too. And there’s a good reason why. Above 300oF is when your baked goods begin to experience caramelization. The sugar begins to caramelize and browning of the proteins occurs (something called the Maillard reaction).

375 – 400oF: (moderately hot oven)

A higher temperature is usually used for a shorter term baking. In cooking, this higher temperature for a shorter cook or when you want bubbling golden cheese!

  • Cookies: I like to bake my chocolate chip cookies usually at 375oF instead of 350F because then you get crisp edges on the cookies and they set faster, making for a cookie that doesn’t spread as much with a nice golden color.
  • Pastries: You might also use this higher heat for certain pastries that need a burst of high heat to help the rise – like muffins and scones.
  • Pies: I use a higher temperature like this at the start of making my pies, so the crust can have that burst of heat to develop flaky layers and browning, but then will reduce the temperature to allow the pie to cook fully through without burning.

425 – 450oF: (hot oven)

In cooking, this oven temperature is a perfect roasting temperature for vegetables. This higher heat is ideal for certain pastries where the temperature will help for steam to release and puff up the dough.

  • Choux pastry: This temperature is great for baking choux pastry like cream puffs (or profiteroles), eclairs
  • Laminated doughs: It’s also good for laminated doughs like puff pastry like in these apple turnovers. I also like to bake my biscuits at this high of temperature to ensure a fluffy biscuit that rises tall. The high heat will push apart the layers of the flour creating a flaky biscuit.

(extremely hot oven)

This high heat is good for bread doughs where you want the dough to rise quickly and bake, before the gluten has a chance to set.

Grab a copy of my Temperature Conversion Chart

  • Very slow oven: between 200oF (93oC) and 250oF (121oC)
  • Quick oven: (Or a hot oven) – 400oF (204oC)
  • Very hot oven – Between 450oF (232oC) – 500oF (260oC)


To convert Fahrenheit temperature to using the Celsius temperature when cooking then you need to do a little math.

To convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius

(Fahrenheit temperature – 32) multiply by 5, then divide by 9

To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit

Celsius temperature x 9, divide by 5, then add 32.

What is the Final Dough Temperature?

The final dough temperature (FDT) is similar to the desired dough temperature, except it’s the actual measured temperature of the dough right after mixing all the ingredients.

Seeded sourdough bread dough at end of bulk fermentation.

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