What Temperature Should I Bake Bread? Fine Tune Your Recipe!

what is the best temperature to bake bread
Published on
09 May 2020
Gareth Busby
Gareth Busby

When baking bread, the temperature of the oven affects many of its features. Changing bread baking temperature alters taste, texture, smell, and appearance characteristics. So how do these traits take heed? And, what is the best temperature to bake bread?

For standard bread, the best baking temperature is 220-230C (435-450F). Midway through baking, the heat can be turned down to 200-210C (390-410F). Bread containing lots of sugar or fat needs a slightly cooler oven to prevent the crust from burning.

Why is oven temperature so critical for bread?

Once the bread is proofed, bakers have the option to change the following:

  • The length of baking time
  • The oven temperature
  • The humidity/use of steam in the oven

These factors alter the bread’s characteristics. Bakers have fewer choices when it comes to the available oven. Still, the speed at which the oven can regain temperature after the door is opened is also a contributing factor to the quality of the bread. The more intense these factors are, the harder and darker the crust will be.

Best baking temperature for bread

The standard bread baking temperature is between 220C (430F) and 230C (450F). Whole wheat bread and loaves with seeds or toppings become less appealing when there is much colourisation and are best baked at 210-220C (410-430F). Standard white bread and sourdough are baked at 230C (450F).

Here are the baking temperatures for some of the most popular homemade types of bread:

What oven temperature to bake soft rolls?

Soft bread rolls are baked at 230-250C (450-480F) for 10-12 minutes. Place the rolls on a shelf close to the oven’s top element. If you can’t do this with your oven, finish off under the broiler for the last 2-3 minutes. The heat from above caramelises the rolls’ top surface, which produces a thick, coloured crust and a soft, moist crumb.

What temperature should I bake crusty rolls?

When baking crusty rolls, bake them on a preheated baking stone at 220C (430F) for 20-24 minutes. Adding steam as you load the oven will make your rolls extra crispy when they come out.

What oven temperature to bake baguettes?

Baguettes are baked at a high temperature

When baking baguettes, set the oven to 250C (480F). This baking temperature helps the characteristic butter-like flavour of the flour whilst making the baguettes crunchy on the outside and soft in the centre.

What oven temperature to bake pizza?

Pizza is baked at 450-500C (850-930F), sometimes higher. This temperature is not achievable in most domestic ovens. A wood or gas-fired oven is used in restaurants. The high temperature draws sweet aromas from the crust whilst the dough interior becomes nice and soft.

Pizza made in this heat will be ready in under a minute. When making pizza dough with a cooler oven at home, you can add sweeteners (such as sugar or honey) and olive oil to the recipe to accelerate colourisation.

What oven temperature to bake ciabatta?

Ciabatta is usually baked at 220C (430F) for 22-30 minutes; however, a hotter oven is occasionally preferred. The oven temperature is often lowered midway through baking to draw excess moisture from the ciabattas crumb. 

What oven temperature to bake Italian bread?

Italian bread is often baked at temperatures as high as 300C (570F)! The high baking temperature yields a soft crumb with a charred-yet-soft crust on the outside. The blackened crust perfumes the bread, making the flavour of the bread deliciously deep and aromatic.

What temperature to bake Pain de Mie?

Pain de Mie contains more fat and sugar than traditional white bread. Depending on the level of enrichment used, a Pain de Mie is baked between 200 and 220C (390-430F) for 30 minutes. Lower the baking temperature if the loaf browns too quickly.

What temperature to bake brioche?

bake brioche at a cooler temperature

Brioche contains a large amount of fat and sweeteners; therefore is baked between 180 and 200C (390F). Baking at this temperature retains moisture in the bread. It also prevents excessive browning that would occur at higher temperatures due to caramelisation and Maillard reactions.

Best baking temperature for sourdough?

To bake sourdough, preheat the oven to 250C (480F) with a baking stone inside. Once the bread goes in, lower the temperature to 230C (450F). Add steam and set a timer for 25 minutes. After this, open the oven door to release the steam and drop the heat to 210C (410F). Cook until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. The total baking time is around 35-40 minutes.

Temperatures provided are guides. They may change from oven to oven as some operate more fiercely than others. Some will have their heating elements at different distances from the baking bread. Follow a bread recipe to start with, then use these tips to make adjustments as you see fit.

How to check your oven is at the correct temperature

Oven temperatures are often not as accurate as you think. It’s often a shock to bakers when they discover that their ovens are running 10-20 degrees out from the temperature they are set at. To be sure that you are baking at the correct temperature, you might want to get yourself an oven thermometer. These thermometers will sit in your oven to provide an accurate temperature reading.

Baking stones take a while to heat up thoroughly. When the heating light on your oven goes out, despite the temperature being hot enough, the core of the stone will need longer to heat through. This can take up to an hour, depending on the thickness of the stone.

Not allowing the baking stone to preheat fully makes it less effective at conducting heat into the bread. The cooler stone decreases the rise that occurs during oven spring. To ensure your baking stone is preheated, an infrared thermometer can be used to check the desired temperature of the stone has been reached.

What happens when bread bakes?

As soon as bread goes into the oven, the first thing that happens is the yeast rapidly feasts on the available sugars. Yeast is more active as it gets hotter until it reaches 64C (148F) where the active fungus dies. The deactivation of the yeast cells happens around 15 minutes into the baking. We call this action “oven spring”, as the aggressive yeast activity leads to the rapid creation of carbon dioxide, which raises the bread in the oven.

At around the same time as the yeast becomes inactive, the crust loses so much moisture in the oven chamber that it turns dry and hard. We call these the “yeast kill point” and the “crust set point”, and both can be responsible for bringing oven spring to an end. For the remainder of the bake, starch coagulates as moisture exits the core. Baking turns a gassy dough into a delicious loaf of bread.

Should I use a baking stone?

A preheated baking stone dramatically improves the conduction of heat into a baking loaf. This extra heat from below pushes moisture upwards to improve the oven spring and ensures the bread’s base is crisp and properly baked. If you don’t have a baking stone, heating a thick baking sheet and baking on that will have some benefits, but it’s not as good as the real thing. A baking stone should be able to retain and conduct plenty of heat while also being durable enough to last for years. See the baking stone that I recommend.

Adding steam to the oven

Do you want to know the other secret to the perfect oven rise? Well, steam is it! Baking bread in a humid environment delays the setting of the crust. This promotes more significant oven spring gains and increases the baking time. These two factors are vitally important in creating bread with a perfectly crispy crust. Without adding steam, the bread would be soft and ready in half the time. This is useful for soft loaves, but not if you want your bread crust. There are many ways to steam bake bread, but the easiest solution is to use a water mister to spray the oven as the bread goes in to bake. You can see other methods in my adding steam to an oven guide.

How Maillard’s reaction creates colourful bread

The Maillard reaction is a chemical process that occurs when an amino acid and a reducing sugar are heated together. It leads to the development of new molecules with exciting but unusual aromas.

The science behind it is that the reactive carbonyl group of the sugar interacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid. It produces intriguing but poorly described odour and flavour compounds. The net result is more complex flavours and new aroma molecules appearing. These flavours are not found in the raw dough materials, which explains why roasted coffee and peanuts taste so different from their raw form!

The Maillard reaction also produces enzymatic browning, making food turn brown or black. Another cause is caramelisation. This reaction and caramelisation should not be confused with each other. Caramelisation is created by heating sugar. Caramelisation and the Maillard reaction work separately. Yet they are used in conjunction with another to change the properties of bread. A dark crust adds a warming aroma throughout the bread.

The variables that contribute to the amount of colour and type of aroma produced include:

  • The temperature of the oven
  • Number of available sugars
  • Type of amino acids (protein) available
  • PH value of the dough

Yet still, some areas of the Maillard reaction are unclear! One of the best ways to see the impact of Malliard reactions in homemade bread is to bake bread at high temperatures. You will see an increased rate of browning, which generates darker colours. 

How hot can I have the oven for baking bread?

I worked in a bakery where they would preheat the oven to the max before dropping the heat as the bread went in. The oven temperature would start at 500C (930F) (that’s a high heat!) but would take around 10 minutes to drop to 220C (430F). The bread shot up initially, and the crust coloured quickly. But to prevent the bread from becoming too black it was removed and cooled after 20-25 minutes. It shaved off a third of a standard baking time. I think the idea was to get more colour on the crust, but the bread wasn’t great!

There were many tones of colour on the crust, which did look impressive. However, the bread was so moist due to the short baking time preventing water from escaping that after 20 minutes of cooling, the crust turned unbelievably soft and floppy. It had no strength whatsoever that it bent over when held upright. That’s not good bread!

That said, dark colours and a soft crust is ideal for pizza! The baking method of extreme heat for a short period is often used in Italy. They will use wood-fired ovens, which can go super hot! In it, they’ll bake pizza, soft flatbreads or pocket sandwich bread in no time at all. The same high-heat method is used for baking naan bread in a tandoor clay oven.

Top tips for changing the oven temperatures at home – Conclusion

To practice these tips, start using the oven temperature dial to “fine-tune” your bread. Follow a bread recipe, then make tweaks to the oven settings. After experimenting with different temperatures, you’ll soon find your bread comes out just right! Let me know what you have learned about bread baking temperature and if you will approach baking bread differently in the comments below.

Bread baking temperature frequently asked questions

When should I drop the temperature of the oven?
Bread that goes into the oven at a high heat will often reduce the heat halfway into its baking time. Bread baked this way benefits from a strong oven spring and colouration in high heat followed by a second, cooler period that focuses on drying out moisture and hardening the crust of the bread.
Can I bake bread in a cold oven?
Sourdough bread can be baked in a cold oven using a Dutch oven. To do this, place the proofed dough in a Dutch oven and then in a cold oven. Turn the oven to max heat, and you’ll have freshly baked bread in around 50 minutes! The gradual warmth provides a longer oven rise, so the dough should be slightly under proofed.
Can I bake dough straight from the fridge?
You do not need to let the dough warm up from an overnight fridge rise for small loaves. Bake them straight from the refrigerator. For larger loaves such as sandwich bread, the core of the loaf will take longer to heat. It is better to rise at room temperature for an improved oven rise in this case.
Can I bake bread at 350 degrees?
For dough containing a lot of sugar and fat, 350 degrees (175C) is a sensible temperature for baking bread. For standard white loaves, increasing the temperature will improve the oven spring and the bread’s quality. Expect a loaf to take 45-55 minutes to bake at 350 Fahrenheit.
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Comments (9)

  • I have just started baking in the last few months. I git a thermometer and checked the oven’s accuracy. It’s fine. I was having problems with bread being very moist in the middle. Cooked at 450 about 35 min. Very brown and thick crust. I asked my mother about it. She gave me her recipe. The biggest thing was she cooked at 350 for 45min. I found that this works for me. I just don’t understand why 450 will not work.

    • Does your recipe have fat or sugars in it? This will make it brown quicker. It could also be that it could have benefited from more development or kneading to make it rise higher in the oven spring. Hard to tell without any pictures!

      You might find that you have a weaker oven spring at that 350. If so, just preheat to 450 and turn the dial down after 10 minutes to 350.

  • Until 8 months, or so, ago my oven wasn’t getting above 150-160C (a broken switch caused it to run at a single temperature no matter what was dialled-in) – my ‘ordinary’ and sour dough bread was rubbish (both cake-like) but I could make very tasty ciabattas, albeit a little on the pale side, but they did have a perfect crumb – go figure!

    • Haha! I love how baking is a science but the rules can be broken so often! I imagine it is due to ciabatta have a smaller diameter than larger loaves.

  • I have been baking sourdough for the past 6 months. I always have produced bakes with thick chewy crust which is hard effort for the jaw.
    My home oven has max temp 230deg C and I bake using preheated dutch oven 20min with lid on and 220deg 15min without lid.
    I want to achieve thin soft crust with good oven spring. My current method produces thin but not soft crust.
    After reading your article, I would be interested to try with cold DO without steam. What other setting would you recommend for me to achieve thin soft crust?

    • Sounds good. You could also try adding more water to the dough and using a higher protein flour. A bit of fat will help too.

      You might want to try less steam, instead of no steam -depending on what sort of bread you are trying to achieve.

  • I have been baking a whole wheat bread, that includes porridge and honey, a fairly heavy dough. Spray the top with water and sprinkle with oats.
    The recipe says to preheat the oven to 425 F place the loaves in and reduce to 375 F bake for 45 min.
    I cover with foil half way through or the crust is too dark. It looks beautiful when I take it out. I immediately remove it from the pan and place on a rack to cool. As it cools dimples appear on th top. Suggestions

    • The dough is heavy because of the amount of water your ingredients soak up. The challenge with this loaf is mastering the amount of water to be released, to leave a moist crumb.

      What I think is happening is that the crust springs up in the oven, but the crumb structure underneath it isn’t all that strong. Once the loaf cools it contracts naturally and where the structure of the bread is weak (just underneath the crumb), the crust collapses irregularly.

      I’d try a few things:

      1- Check you’re not over-proofing the dough – This is unlikely as a heavy dough will probably collapse
      2- Strengthen the gluten in the dough by adding vital wheat gluten, cutting the whole wheat flour with some strong bread flour, or adding something to bind the dough together such as vegetable oil (it contains lecithin) or an egg (lecithin and protein). Another solution is to develop the dough better so that it passes the windowpane test.
      3- Not sure if you are doing this already but, spray the dough and roll it in oats when shaping. Don’t add the topping after it is proofed.
      4- I’m not a fan of putting tin foil in the oven. It creates a barrier over the bread which prevents moisture from escaping. This means more water escapes as it cools which can cause an irregular crust area. Instead, if your oven allows, use only the bottom heat element. If not, drop the bread baking shelf so that it is lower in the oven. A baking stone (if you’re not already using one) will help direct heat into the bread without browning the top. 45 minutes is quite long so don’t be afraid to reduce this.

      I’d try making one or two of the above changes to test the results. It’ll need a bit of experimentation as this type of bread can be a bit tricky! If you can send a photo to the email address I’ve just messaged you, I’ll be able to give a more accurate answer.

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