I think it depends on what you are trying to do with the yeast. Could you tell us a bit more about your baking (or possibly brewing?) project?
When I'm making bread and want to know if the yeast and/or water is the correct temp, I use the inside of my wrist. A bit like testing the temperature of a baby bottle. If it's the same temp as my blood, it won't feel hot or cold on my wrist, then I know it's the right temp for the yeast to rise.
If you are taking the temp of cake yeast, I assume any instant read penetrating thermometer would work. If we are talking about brewing, I think the same kind of thermometer would work just as well.
I made mini donuts a few weeks ago for Hanukkah and they turned out really "chewy" and not very soft (they were fried, so maybe that's why?). Friend mentioned proper "water" temp and therm., so I figured I screwed up. Only therms I have are meat and regular mouth one for taking body temp. Will the second one work? Thanks everyonw.
Ruthy is a Recipe Tester for Food52
to be honest I usually just use my regular probe thermometer that I use for everything else- it hasn't let me down yet. but you can buy a yeast thermometer at a pretty good deal- here's a link at amazon http://www.amazon.com/Taylor...
Re: Barb48. In my experience, the water temp isn't as big an issue in yeast based dough/batter compared to how the gluten has been activated. It might have been kneaded/worked too much or too little for the kind of flour used. For doughnuts, oil temp also has a huge influence in final texture.
i use my all purpose probe thermometer to check the water temperature for the yeast and also to check the finished bread temp. i find that my white/whole wheat mixed grain bread are done at 209o F. thus i don't over or underbake my breads. yhr probe is a good all around thermometer
Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.
For years I used bi-metallic stemmed thermometers because they're cheap, and I calibrated them every Monday. Finally about a year ago I threw $25 down and bought a decent digital one. I'm guessing that it's the temp of the proofing water you want to take. For slow-rise breads (such as baguettes and sourdoughs) and those that need a tender crumb (cinnamon rolls, babkas, doughnuts) I use about 80 degree water. The temp of the water is important for not only the yeast, but also for the flour. Gluten, the protein in flour, forms in the presence of water and further develops during kneading. The warmer the water, and the longer the kneading period(s), the stronger gluten you'll see. For doughs that need to be tender, I knead them just long enough (in a mixer) for the dough to appear homogenous. Kneading generates friction which generates heat which encourages gluten development and strengthening. When you fried them, did you take the temp of the oil? It should be in the neighborhood of 375 degrees (a candy thermometer is good to have on hand; $10 or so will get you a decent one) so that the dough nuts cook quickly and evenly. Slower frying at lower temps will also toughen your doughnuts. I used to make home-made doughnuts on Christmas morning; my son and daughter loved them so much it was like tossing fish to seals. They're so good that it's worth persevering and buying a couple of useful thermometers.
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