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Get the Right Water Temperature for Yeast Without a Thermometer

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In Overheard, we're sharing all of the best tidbits we couldn't help picking up onfrom smart tips on the Hotline to funny quotes heard around the water cooler and moreso we can all be in the know.

Baking Ingredients

This week, Food52er Kate was ready to make Kouign Amann (imagine extra-buttery croissants with crunchy, caramelized sugar), but was thrown off by the prescribed 110º F water temperature. She asked the Hotline how important it was for the water to be at exactly 110º F and wondered whether it was possible to figure that out without using a thermometer—Andrea Young rose to the occasion and helped out:

110º F is in the middle of the range of temperatures for water to put yeast in (105º F to 115º F). This may vary by person, but I have found that this is what works for me: I tweak the water temperature from my kitchen faucet so that when I put my hand in the stream, I get the sting of hot water, but I am able to leave my hand in the water. More than 115º F and I have to jerk my hand away, less than 105º F and the water feels warm but I don't get that bite of hot water. This "sting but can stay" temperature seems to be right at 110º F. But others may have different sensitivities to temperature, so the first time you find this spot, I'd check it to make sure it's close to 110º F.

Note that different kinds of yeast are happiest at different temperatures, so pay attention to what water temperature a recipe calls for and use a thermometer until you have a good sense of what different temperatures feel like to you.

For more of our community's brilliance, head to the Hotline—or ask a question of your own! 

Photo by Yossy Arefi

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Tags: Tips & Techniques, Hotline