Ingredient Temperature Guidelines for Baking
- Mise en Place for Baking
- Essential Baking Equipment and Their Uses
- Common Baking Terminology Definitions
- How to Measure for Baking: Weight vs Volume Measurement
- The Function of Sugar in Baking
- The Function of Flour in Baking
- All About Gluten and its Role in Baking
- All About Leavening in Baking
- All About Eggs and Their Function in Baking
- All About Fat and its Function in Baking
- Ingredient Temperature Guidelines for Baking
Ingredient Temperature Guidelines for Baking Lesson Overview:
Today we are diving into the topic of ingredient temperatures in baking and reviewing some general guidelines about those temperatures. It is probably no surprise to you by now that paying attention to details in baking is important and ingredient temperatures are no exception.
If a recipe is written properly, it should specify when ingredients should be at room temperature or when they should be cold, but today we will review the reasons for the two and the general guidelines for when each is used.
Watch the Video Lesson:
Temperatures of Ingredients in Baking
One of the most common questions I get is the question of if it really matters if ingredients are at room temperature or not. The simple answer to this is yes. Baking is a science and details do matter, including the temperature of your ingredients.
The thing to know about ingredient temperatures in baking is that it does matter more in certain circumstances than it does in others. Some baked goods, like muffins and quick breads, are very forgiving and aren’t going to be ruined by using cold ingredients (though the texture will be better if you allow the ingredients to come to room temperature). While other recipes, like a perfect pound cake, are more finicky and will not turn out well if you use cold ingredients.
All of this is to say that if you want to absolute best results from you baking then you do want to pay attention to ingredient temperatures. My biggest tip for following this is to consult the recipe. If a recipe is written properly then it should state whether ingredients should be cold or room temperature. But sometimes it isn’t stated, and I prefer to understand the reasoning even if it is stated, so let’s review some general guidelines and why it is important.
Ingredients Where Temperature Matters
When we are discussing ingredient temperatures for baking the only ingredients that we are talking about are the ones that are typically kept in the refrigerator. This includes things like butter, eggs, milk, cream, cream cheese, and sour cream. Dry ingredients like sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt are always going to be used at room temperature.
When You Should Use Cold Ingredients in Baking
As a general rule of thumb, you want to use cold ingredients for any kind of baked good with a flaky final texture. Examples of this are pie and tart crusts, biscuits, scones, puff pastry, and other laminated doughs.
For all of these examples it is important that the fat remains solid before the baked good goes into the oven. The small pieces of solid fat that are studded throughout the dough will melt in the oven creating little pockets, aka flakiness. For these recipes you want to make sure your butter, eggs, cream, etc. are cold before making the dough.
When You Should Use Room Temperature Ingredients
If you are making something with a cohesive dough or batter, or anything that won’t have a flaky final texture, then you want your ingredients to be at room temperature. This is going to be the bulk of your baking. There are a few reasons why it matters to bring ingredients to room temperature before baking.
Butter is an emulsion and when it is creamed with sugar, air and sugar are being beaten into the emulsion. If the butter were too cold or too warm it could easily break the emulsion resulting in a batter than is curdled. This means that the creaming process wasn’t successful and the end result of your baked good won’t be desirable.
Furthermore, you want eggs and dairy products to be at room temperature when they are being added into a mixture that contains creamed butter and sugar. Cold ingredients could also break this emulsion.
You will also notice that ingredients are more readily absorbed into batters and doughs when they are at room temperature. This leads to a more cohesive mixture and a nicer final texture.
What Does Room Temperature Mean in Baking?
When you are bringing ingredients to room temperature you want them to be around 70 F (21 C). This is the temperature at which butter is soft but is not starting to look greasy or glossy yet. Once butter gets to the point where it is greasy looking or starting to melt it is too warm and you should pop it back in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
How to Bring Ingredients to Room Temperature
The best way to bring ingredients to room temperature is to plan ahead. Leave butter, eggs, milk, sour cream, and cream cheese out on your counter for 30-60 minutes before starting your recipe depending on how warm your kitchen is.
If you are in a rush you can bring your ingredients to room temperature more quickly using these techniques:
- Butter & Cream Cheese: Butter and cream cheese can come to room temperature quickly but cutting them up into small pieces and spreading them out. The smaller the pieces are, the quicker they will come to room temperature. I can get my butter to room temperature in about 5 minutes after it is cut into small pieces. I do not recommend microwaving butter to bring it to room temperature because it can easily become too warm.
- Eggs: Eggs will come to room temperature quickly by placing uncracked eggs in a bowl and cover with warm (not hot) water, and letting them sit for about 5 minutes to come to room temperature.
- Milk & Cream: Milk and cream can be brought to room temperature quickly by microwaving them for about 15-20 seconds to take the chill off.
Other Instances When Ingredient Temperatures Matter in Baking
There are two other instances where it is very important to be aware of ingredient temperatures and that is when making whipped cream and when whipping air into egg whites. Cream needs to be very cold in order to thicken and trap the web of air. In contrast, egg whites will whip up to their highest volume from room temperature.
Homework for this Lesson
Now that you understand why ingredient temperatures matter in baking you are ready for your last homework assignment! As always, the homework is optional but is a good way to practice. For this lesson I want you to tackle a recipe that feels challenging and one that you have never tried before. I know I constantly have a list of baked goods that feel intimidating but that I want to try. Choose something off of your list!
When you utilize all of the skills and knowledge you have gained in this class I know that this will feel more approachable! If it doesn’t turn out exactly as you hoped this time, I know you have the skills to assess what may have gone wrong so you can have more success next time!
38 Comments on “Ingredient Temperature Guidelines for Baking”
it has been so nice being one of your students, I have learnt a lot and I have come to know what I did not know in baking. Thank you once again looking forward for another class..
This information was wonderful
So glad you enjoyed it!
I’d like to thank you for your wonderful trainings on very key topics. I have a much better understanding of recipes; becoming a more confident baker after each training 🙂
You are the best!
You’re very welcome!
Thanks for the lesson on the basics, the ingredients, & temps to use, in the art/skills of baking. I’ll be checking back in, in case I forget anything in your lesson. I love the pic of what looked like biscuits baked in a cast-iron skillet. It made me hungry, as soon as I saw it. I remember my mom used to make simple pot-bakes when I was little, in a big iron-pot, on the stove-top. She used regular all-purpose flour, salt, & baking-powder, to make the dough. If she had butter/lard, she put some in to make the dough. She eye-balled her ingredients in her cooking/baking, she never measured them. Her round bakes were good hot with butter, & sharp, New Zealand cheddar cheese. I’m from Trinidad, West Indies, btw. BLESS HER ❤. She’s gone to heaven! Sorry Bettie, for getting carried-away down memory lane, to happier times when I was young. Back to baking 101. I would like to make those skillet biscuits I saw in your pic. Please send me your recipe. Thank you Bettie, so much. So glad I found you. I’ll be contacting you in the future, for answers, if I have baking/cooking (???). I need to take more of your classes also. Thanks again Bettie! My baby-grandson’s crying. I appreciate your helpful baking tips. Enjoy the rest of your day.
Hi Bettie, wanted to tell you how much I enjoy learning from you. You have a way of teaching that is so easy to grasp. Looking forward to more lessons and getting in the kitchen and challenging myself to that list of things I always wanted to bake but feared they would not turn out. So glad I found you! Your encouragement helps a lot. Thank you.
Very informative…love the lessons.
I’m so glad!
Kindly tell me the duration of this course and about certificate….
Here is all of the information regarding my free Foundations course: https://betterbakingschool.com/p/fundamentals-of-baking
I only found your site a few days ago and, wow, I’m so happy that I did. I love to cook, it is my zen. I hate to bake, but that’s because I’m terrible at baking. I grew up helping to cook from a very young age and for a really large family. I learned to experiment, some fails, more successes. The more I tried, the more I loved cooking. But my mom did all the baking, if any baking was to be done. I never learned. I didn’t even watch her as I would be prepping things for the meal being prepared. Anyway, long story less long, I have continued to allow baking to intimidate me throughout my adult life. I’m an “asker”. And if I don’t get understandable or relatable answers, I assume one doesn’t know the true answer. That’s always what seemed to happen to me if I asked someone a baking question, no real answer. However, having now read several of your teaching articles, I’m feeling like maybe I can actually learn to bake, perhaps someday even with the confidence that I have with cooking. This is exciting and I sincerely appreciate and thank you for creating this site.
Am very glad for this tutorial. Thanks a lot.
Dear Bettie, I have only recently subscribed and am thoroughly enjoying your articles. Thank so much for sharing.
I tried to bake a pineapple cake but it gone wrong. I think I put too much crushed pineapple into the mixture.
I really learned the difference between temperature and baking today.
Thank you so much
You are a very helpful and very smart lady. I think i speak for everyone when I say thank you for helping us. Recipes are a dime a dozen, but you take the time to explain everything to us, no other site does that. Believe me there’s alot of stupid cooks out there and I am one of them. Your insite has helped me alot . thank you so much. I love your site.
That’s so kind! I’m so glad you enjoy my site. Thank you!
Thanks. Bettie..now i know the importance of keeping my ingredients in room temperature..i love your courses..thanks for training me, u r d best
You’re very welcome!
Hello, I just signed up for these daily tips. Your instructions on your recipes are very clear and I love how you format and number them step by step . I often wonder especially around the holidays if making a cake a day before is ok to do? If so any cake or just certain ones will keep better than others
Hi! Yes, of course! You can make a cake several days in advance. If you are making a traditional sheet pan or layered cake. You can bake the cake, frost, and decorate and put it in the fridge. Before serving let it sit out at room temperature for a few hours so it can become soft again.
I’ve been baking & cooking for a long time but never knew egg whites should be at room temperature. Could that be why sometimes my meringue on my pies sometimes pull away from the edges after browning?
Thank you so much Baker Bettie for all the lovely recipes and tutorials. I love baking and I be learnt a lot.
I would love to purchase your recipe book. Do you ship to Malta and how much would it cost please?
Hi! Thanks so much for following! Do you have Amazon in Malta? That’s the first place I would search.
Very important information for home bakers like me.
Incredible 12 lessons! Thanks so much! I purchased your book and am looking forward to learning even more…and practicing more with the recipes 🙂
It has been so nice
Betty, Thank you for the great tips!
We keep our house around 63 in the winter. Is there another way to safely bring butter and eggs to room temperature (70 degrees)?
Read my comment below.
Dear Bettie thank you so much about your lessons now i understand what it is important of room temperature
Butter is easily softened in the microwave. Place 1 stick in the microwave still in the paper wrapper and microwave for 6 seconds. Turn to the next side (1/4 turn) and microwave for 6 seconds. Do again on the next side. I do this on 3 sides and then check the butter for softness. If it’s still a little too hard, do the last (4th) side. Perfectly softened butter every time.