How to know when your yeasted bread has finished baking

baking tips Jun 19, 2024
Thermometer inserted into bread to show how to know when your bread has finished baking

How to know when your yeasted bread has finished baking is a question I get asked a lot.

And I get can be so hard to determine when your loaf has actually finished baking just by looking at it.

But getting it right can also solve lots of other problems that can arise when baking bread too, and I'm about to share with you a guaranteed way of getting it right every time.


If you've ever experience gumminess in your loaves or bread that was dry and went stale quickly read on, because what I'm about to tell you will help you understand why baking your bread to perfection shouldn't be a hit and miss affair.


Picture're peering in through the glass of your oven door trying to determine if your bread has finished baking. It looks golden on top but you're still not sure. Next thing you're juggling blistering hot bread out of the oven and tapping madly on the base to see if it sounds hollow...sound familiar?

Now there's nothing wrong with testing your bread this way however, bread will sound hollow whether it's perfectly baked or overbaked...and if you don't catch it at the right time, it will be the latter.



So why does it matter?

A perfectly baked loaf of bread will contain the perfect amount of moisture to ensure the right texture. 

If the loaf is underbaked it will contain too much moisture and gumminess can occur.


💡 Side note: Never cut bread before it has cooled. Bread finishes it's baking process as it cools so if you cut it before then, there may still be too much moisture inside which results in gumminess.


As painful as it may be...good things come to those who wait!


If the loaf is overbaked two things happen. The crust becomes thicker and the inside dries out more. This is because the longer the loaf is in the oven the more moisture is lost. Your bread will be drier and stale more quickly. 


So how can you tell when your bread is perfectly done without having to juggle blazing hot loaves straight out of the oven? 

Use a thermometer. This method is far more civilised and there will be no blistered fingers in sight!

A probe thermometer takes away all the guess work and makes it so much easier to tell if your bread has finished baking or not.

Simply insert it into the middle of your bread and if it has reached the correct're good to go.



When I first started using this method, I was led to believe that different types of yeasted bread needed to bake to different temperatures to reach the perfect level of 'doneness'. However, over the last few years I've tested just about every type of yeasted bread using just one temperature and it has worked across the board for all but one type of bread...and that's baguettes...but I'll talk more about that later on.

It doesn't matter if you're baking rolls, enriched doughs, or white sandwich loaves, there is a magic number that works for them all...and that is 87°C. 

That's not to say that if bread is baked to a higher internal temperature that it is a big fail, far from it. However, it won't stay soft for as long and it will stale far quicker than bread baked to 87°C.

Now the last thing I want you to do is start freaking out if you test your bread and it's a few degrees over. It happens to me all the time. But now that you know the magic number you have a bench mark with no guess work required...or blistered fingers!


📌 Gluten free bakers take note: Your loaves need to bake to a higher temperature.  96°C is the temperature needed to reach in order for the starches to gelatenise which is what provides structure in your yeasted gluten free loaves.


What sort of thermometer to use

An inexpensive probe thermometer like the one in the picture below works well. This one is digital and costs around $20 online. Just Google digital thermometer and you'll find what you're looking for. 

Alternatively, a thermometer that has a dial for the temperature like the ones they use in coffee shops will also work...and as a bonus, no batteries to worry about. 

The choice is yours!


How to test your bread using a thermometer

The best time to test your bread is to take it out of the oven about 5 minutes before it 'should' be done and test it. If it's a few degrees under another minute or so should do. If it's very under then test again in another 5 minutes.


Just a word of caution though...if your bread only needs another 3 or 4 degrees to be 'done' then only leave it in for a few'd be surprised how quickly it can climb so don't walk away and forget about it. 


Insert the probe thermometer into the centre of the bread but don't let it touch the base of tin. Wait for the temperature to stop moving then decide if it's ready or needs longer.


💡 Fun Fact! - The internal temperature of bread will never rise higher than 100°C. That's the temperature of boiling water and the temperature of steam as it evaporates from the bread. Once that temperature is reached...that's it! Your bread will just get drier and drier as it continues to bake but it won't reach a higher temperature.


And in case you're wondering what the magic number is for baguettes, then sorry to spoil your anticipation...but for baguettes we go by colour. 


A good baguette is crusty and chewy with large holes in the interior.

To achieve a crusty exterior that remains after the baguettes have cooled you need to bake them until they are on the darker side of golden.

This will ensure that there is no moisture left inside which would migrate out to the crust causing it to soften as it cools.


What about sourdough I hear you ask? I will write a more indepth blog about that soon but 96°C to 98°C is a good bench mark for sourdough loaves. 


So now you know how much easier it is to determine if your bread has finished baking using a thermometer, you can put away the more blistered fingers for you!  



I hope you found this baking tip helpful and as always, if you have any questions at all just let me know at [email protected]

Happy Baking!


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