Baking bread is a labor of love. You mix, knead, wait on the proof, punch down and proof again. It’s a lot of work before your loaf even hits the oven. Baking bread is the last hurdle, and for new bakers, it can be challenging to get just the right bake. Bake too long and the bread is burnt tasting, but if you go under, you’ve got an underbaked, sticky mess inside. The best way to avoid the over- or underbaked bread: internal temperature checks.
How to Tell When Bread Is Done
Maggie Knoebel, culinary assistant in the Taste of Home Test Kitchen, explains that the best way to tell if your bread is done by checking the internal temperature of the bread. She recommends a quick-read thermometer for an accurate gauge. As for the number you’re looking for, Maggie says anywhere between 160 and 185ºF.
“That’s when gluten starts to coagulate,” she explains. That means the bread is firming up inside and is no longer raw.
But Do You Really Need a Thermometer?
Now, you might think that you can gauge if your bread is done by appearance, but Maggie warns that looks can be deceiving, particularly with large loaves, breads made with wheat or rye flours, loaves that are egg-washed or even breads that use chocolate like this babka.
“With a big crusty bread or ones with darker dough like pumpernickel, it can be hard to tell what’s going on inside,” Maggie says. “Don’t go by sight!”
Instead, Maggie recommends sticking a quick-read thermometer into the center of the loaf (this is Maggie’s go-to thermometer).
When Should You Check Bread’s Internal Temperature?
Since you want to be mindful not to overbake your bread, Maggie recommends checking the temperature early.
“Test your bread a few minutes before the low end of the time range in the recipe,” she says. So if your loaf should be done in 35 to 40 minutes, start testing around the 30-minute mark, just to be cautious.
What About Rolls?
The only exception to this rule would be small rolls and flatter breads—think naan or focaccia. Maggie says that you can typically go by sight and touch with these varieties. These types of bread are done when they are golden brown and when you press the top of them, they spring back (kind of like with cake).
With a good thermometer and a few good recipes, you’ll be set to make perfect bread!