Whilst you don’t need a science degree to bake bread at home, it does help to know what’s the best temperature for baking bread and how to choose the right oven temperature for your type of bread to achieve the best possible bake.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, as the oven temperature partly depends on how you like your bread – crusty, soft, pale or crunchy and partly on ensuring that the bread is actually baked through.
Based on this the oven temperature (for domestic oven) can be anything from 160-260 C or 320 -500F.
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How bread baking is different from cake baking
I’m often asked this question during my bread baking courses, because, in my opinion, people understand cake baking and cooking in general and think that bread follows the same principles.
By this, I mean, you need to be very careful with choosing the right temperature for cake, pies, meat and if you are not you could end up with a bit of a cooking disaster on your hands.
But, guess what?
Bread baking is a completely different kettle of fish and some baking principles that you might have learned when baking cakes, won’t apply to bread baking.
What is the correct temperature for baking bread?
My simplified answer to the correct oven temperature for rustic bread is usually something on these lines:
Heat up your oven to the highest setting, bake for 10 minutes and then lower your temperature depending on quickly your bread browns (and how brown you wanted it to be) and carry on baking.
See, not very scientific answer, but I think it makes my students a little more confident with bread baking and trusting themself more to know what temperature their oven should be when they bake their own bread at home.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the oven temperature partly depends on how you like your bread – crusty or soft and partly on making sure that the oven temperature is high enough to bake the bread through. The oven temperatures for this can be anything from 160-260C or 320 -500F.
And just to reassure you, industrial baking ovens go up to 350 C or 660F, so you can see that the top range of the bread baking temperature largely depends on your oven manufacturer than what the bread temperature should be baked at.
The rule of the thumb is if you want your bread to be crusty bake it at a higher temperature, but if you prefer softer bread all round, bake at a lower temperature.
You can try to bake the same bread dough in a different way and it will still bake regardless what oven temperature you use, as long as it it’s at least 160 C (320F).
I think people get hung up too much on testing and measuring temperatures at different stages of bread baking and forget the basic common sense and the fact that 100 or 200 years ago people didn’t have modern ovens and digital thermometers and they still manage to bake decent bread.
Quick pro tip for setting the right oven temperature
The more ingredients you have in your bread recipe, the lower the temperature should be, so that you don’t burn or overbake the extra ingredients (such as eggs, butter, sugar, dried fruit, milk, seeds, cheese, meat, sun dried tomatoes etc.)
To achieve crusty loaf
If you want a crusty loaf, bake at higher temperature first 5-10 minutes and then lower the temperature depending on colour
To achieve soft bread
If you want soft bread, bake at much lower and constant temperature (don’t start at higher temperature and lower later on).
To save energy when baking
If you already have something in the oven and you want to bake bread at the same time (either dont’ have the time to bake separately or want to save time and energy), add the bread in and bake it at the temperature for your other dish (e.g. if you are roasting potatoes at 220C, the temperature is hot enough for the bread to rise and bake.
All this said, let me run through a basic guide for oven temperatures for different types of bread, that I have tested over the years of bread baking at home.
LIST OF THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF YEASTED BREAD WITH OVEN TEMPERATURES AND RECIPES
White Bread – Rustic round bread or sourdough – to achieve good crust and darker colour
The highest oven setting (240 – 250C or 460-500F) for the first 10 minutes and then 220C or 200C (or 430 – 400 F) (depending on how brown you want your bread crust to be).
Wholemeal bread or rustic wholemeal sourdough – to achieve good crust & darker colour
The highest oven setting (240 – 250C or 460-500F) for the first 10 minutes and then 180C or 200C (or 350 – 400 F) (depending on how brown you want your bread crust to be).
Bread rolls – to achieve soft rolls
160-180C or 330-350 F throughout the whole bake (about 7-10 minutes)
Bread rolls – to achieve crusty rolls
The highest oven setting (240 – 250C or 460-500F) for the first 10 minutes and then 180C or 200C (or 350 – 400 F) (depending on how brown you want your bread rolls crust to be).
White sandwich loaf – to achieve soft white loaf with no or little crust and pale finish
160 C (320F) throughout the whole baking process.
Add extra steam (water or ice cubes the the bottom of the oven) for very soft tops of your loaves.
Enriched dough – Brioche, Hot Cross Buns, Panetonne etc
Whilst you can bake the enriched dough at higher temperatures like a regular artisan bread, you will end up with a much darker crust than you might like.
This is mainly down to the extra ingredients that are usually in the enriched dough (mainly sugar, butter, eggs, milk, dried fruit) which don’t really like high temperatures.
This means that you’ll get better results with baking enriched dough at much lower temperature (160 – 180 C or 320-350F), which gives you a beautiful golden soft crust when you finish baking.
Bake at the highest oven setting 250C – 260C or 480 – 500F for 5-10 minutes for a crusty thin base finish (usually Italian style pizza with thin base) or at lower 180-200 C or 350-280F) for a softer crust (usually American style pizza with thick base or cheese filled crust).
LIST OF THE MOST COMMON TYPES OF NON- YEASTED BREAD WITH OVEN TEMPERATURES AND RECIPES
Non-yeasted breads, i.e. easy breads raised with baking powder or baking soda, are baked slightly differently than yeasted breads.
I always say, that because we’ve used baking powder or soda like for a cake, we do need to treat these breads like a cake! In this case, this means, using lower and consistent temperatures (usually around 180C or 350 F).
This also means, that unlike yeasted breads, you should open the oven door when you are baking these breads as you might deflate them.
Soda Bread – White or Wholemeal Soda Bread
You can start with a slightly higher temperature of 220 C or 400F and then lower the temperature if the bread is getting too brown. The lower temperature shouldn’t be less than 180C or 350F.
Spelt, Rye or Buckwheat Bread
The best temperature is slightly lower 180C or 350 F because these breads are usually baked in a large bread tin and you need the lower temperature to get through to the bread dough evenly.
This blog post was originally written on 6 December 2021 and last updated on 16 October 2022