How To Tell When Bread is Done With or Without a Thermometer

Published on
20 September 2021
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

Taking freshly baked bread out of the oven is one of the best parts of baking. But, how do you know if your bread is done baking? Well, many bakers use an instant-read thermometer to check the core temperature of the bread, but you can learn to tell if bread is baked without one. If you also want to know how to tell when your bread is done with or without a thermometer, continue reading!

A perfectly baked bread should have a deep golden-brown crust, a firm texture, and a largely dry interior. An instant-read thermometer is the most accurate way to check the doneness of bread. As you enhance your baking skills, you will learn to be equally confident that your bread is done, by looking at it. 

How to take a temperature reading of bread

For this, you’ll need a thermometer that has a probe. A laser thermometer isn’t ideal as you’ll want to take a reading from the centre of the bread.

To take a temperature reading you can either do this inside the oven or remove the loaf with oven gloves and do it outside. If your probe is an “instant-read” model then it’s better to do it in the oven. Push your probe into the bread, positioning the tip of the probe in roughly the centre of the loaf. Turn on your probe and wait for the temperature dial to settle. If the reading reaches your target temperature the bread can be removed and left to cool.

Taking the temperature of bread using a probe

What is the best bread thermometer?

A thermometer like the GDealer DT09 is perfect for testing the core temperature of the bread. It’s the one I use at home. I like it because it reads the temperature in under 4 seconds, hasn’t fallen apart after the numerous times I’ve dropped it, and the batteries are cheap and easy to change. I use it mainly for bread, but also to check that I haven’t undercooked chicken and when making the perfect medium-rare beef for Mrs Busby to-be.

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The ideal internal temperature of bread in Celsius

There are many types of bread and the perfect temperature of doneness will differ between them. For hard and crusty bread, the internal temperature should be between 90-99C or 200-210F. While for soft types of bread like dinner rolls, bread should reach 87-93C or 190-200F.

*To be precise, the temperature of the bread should pass 90C for 10% of the bake. This means for a 35-minute bake, the bread should pass 90C after 31.5 minutes. This is too hard to measure in a home bakery (and many professional ones!), but it’s a handy point to know, I think!

What does undercooked bread look like?

Bread is distinguished as undercooked by its texture and firmness. A typical sign of undercooked bread is when it’s too soft, close to the texture of the original raw dough. The inside part will be doughy, soggy, and may even have wet spots. Although the crust can colour early when the baking temperature is too high, it’s often noticed that the crust is not a deep golden brown colour.

Under baking is a common reason why bread collapses after baking. Most bread that’s way undercooked lacks the nice aroma of freshly baked bread. Instead, it will smell raw and doughy.

How to tell if bread is done without a thermometer

If you don’t have access to a thermometer, there are two simple steps that you can use to check your bread’s doneness:

Tapping the bottom

The first method that you can do is tap the bottom part of the bread. Simply take the loaf out of the oven or baking pan and turn it upside down. Give the bottom part a firm tap with your thumb or finger. It should make a heavy or hollow sound. A hollow sound means that the inside part of your bread is already cooked and ready to cool down. If it sounds dull, put it back in the oven.

Using a toothpick

Using a toothpick isn’t just applied to cake making, it can be used when baking bread as well. Basically, you just need to stick the toothpick into the bread. If the toothpick comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs, then the bread is finished baking. But if it comes out with many damp crumbs, or it has some uncooked batter, it needs more time in the oven.

How long you should bake bread

Of course, different types of bread have different time periods to be cooked in the oven. Some of them are listed in the table below:

Type of BreadOven Time
Quick bread32-36 minutes
Buns and rolls10-16 minutes
Thick flatbreads20-28 minutes 
Thin flatbreads3-15 minutes
Sourdough bread33-42 minutes

Can you overcook bread?

Yes, bread can always be overcooked. Unless it’s your preference, most bakers don’t advise overcooking your bread. Overbaking makes the bread dry and tough, the complete opposite of what bread should be! 

Frequently asked questions when telling when bread is done

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