Merano Striezl

The baking process is crucial for good bread quality. The decisive elements are the initial baking temperature, the initial bottom heat, the final baking temperature and the baking time.

Initial Baking Temperature:

The criteria of the baking process vary from bakery to bakery. The baking temperature for most types of bread is 15-20°C above the baking temperature for rolls. Depending on the type of bread, the initial baking temperature is on average 250-270°C. During the initial baking phase the oven is heated to keep the temperature high. A crust quickly forms.

A good bottom heat (heated baking stone) promotes the oven spring in the initial baking phase and improves the rise of the dough. The strong bottom heat and the high initial baking temperature are particularly important for rustic breads and soft doughs. Pan breads and large loaves of bread also require a vigorous initial bake (baking them too slow often results in crumb defects – formation of cavities !!).

Baking Process:

As soon as the bread has risen from the oven spring, the baking temperature is reduced. This is done by turning the oven down, opening the oven door, or by moving the bread to a cooler oven. The bread is baked-through at an average temperature of 205-210°C.

Controlling the temperature has a decisive influence on the baking process, the color of the crust and the baking time. A sufficiently long baking time is particularly important for the bread quality. If light-colored bread crusts are required, it is better to bake the bread cooler and to reduce the temperatures faster with a slightly longer baking time. Short baking times have an unfavorable effect on the bread flavor and the texture of the crumb. In practice, it has proven to be particularly beneficial to allow the baking temperature to rise again slightly in the last 5-8 minutes of the baking time. This measure promotes a good and aromatic crust.

Steam / Draught:

The steam delivery and the control of the draught (draining the steam in the baking chamber) must be adapted to the respective type of bread. The higher the proportion of rye, the more the loaves tend to crack. They do not offer the resistance to internal pressure, such as with wheat bread and its elastic gluten structure. For this reason, the steam is drained earlier in the case of bread containing rye.

When under proofed – bake the loaves with a lot of steam so that the dough skin can stretch for a longer time. The volume of the baked goods develops better and the bread shape becomes less round.

When over proofed – bake the loaves with little steam so that the crust forms faster and the loaves do not spread out.

Wheat breads – Bake with steam from beginning to the end of the baking time. The drafts should remain closed. If a stronger crust is desired, the steam can be released in the final minutes of the baking time.

Mixed wheat bread– Bake the first 2-3 minutes with steam. Then, depending on the rye content, the drafts are opened for about 8-10 minutes (to release the moisture), thereby building a stronger crust.  For mixed wheat breads with only a 20% content of rye, the steam can be left in the baking chamber. 

Rye brands and mixed rye breads – Bake for the first 2-3 minutes with the drafts closed. Then the steam is released from the baking chamber. Now with the dry heat, the crust can solidify and withstand the internal pressure from the dough. 


In some bakeries, the bread is baked or pre-baked in extreme heat (e.g. at home in the pizza oven). The temperatures are between 330°C and 420°C. After about 5 minutes, the breads are baked in cooler ovens / stoves and baked at normal, reduced temperatures. This method has proven itself particularly with very soft dough. The dough pieces are baked only when fully proofed if possible. The amount of steam is reduced with this baking process and can even be omitted at temperatures around 400°C.

Baking time:

Baking times that are too short are one of the most common mistakes in daily practice. The negative effects on bread quality are:

  • Crust is too thin
  • Crust is too soft
  • Weak crumb stability
  • Loses volume after baking
  • Compact crumb under the crust
  • Weakened crumb elasticity
  • Decreased slice-ability and spreadability
  • Short shelf-life
  • Bland and raw taste

Baking times depend on:

Bread size

  • Shorter bake time: smaller size
  • Longer bake time: larger size

Flour mixture

  • Shorter bake time: A lot of wheat, less rye
  • Longer bake time: Less wheat, more rye

Flour type

  • Shorter bake time: lighter flour (lower Flour number)
  • Longer bake time: darker flour (higher flour number

Baking Form

  • Shorter bake time: Free shaped
  • Longer bake time: Formed or in a pan

Crumb Structure

  • Shorter bake time: Strongly risen
  • Longer bake time: less risen

Dough Consistency

  • Shorter bake time: Firmer dough
  • Longer bake time: Softer dough


Rye sourdough:

Stage 1 / Foundation sour:

  • 110g Water (c. 35-40°C)
  •   85g Rye flour Tipo 2
  •     7g Starter

DT: 25-27°C Maturity time: 15-24 hours

Stage 2 / Full sour:

  • 202g Mature foundation sour
  • 290g Water (35-40°C)
  • 165g Rye flour Tipo 2

Maturity time: 3 hours / 32°C or  3,5 hours / 31°C or  4 hours / 30°C

Wheat sourdough:

  • 150g Tipo 0
  • 150g Water
  •      7g Starter

Maturity time: 15-20 hours   TT: 28°C

Bread soaker:

  • 180g Water
  •   70g Leftover bread cubes

Soak for 60 minutes before needed and after soaking, blend using an immersion blender. 

Main dough:

  • 657g Mature rye sourdough
  • 307g Mature wheat sourdough
  • 250g Bread soaker
  • 300g Rye flour Tipo 1
  • 200g Wheat flour Tipo 0
  • 150g Water
  •   22g Salt
  •   5g Ground Fennel


  • Mix all ingredients into a dough on slow speed for 5-6 minutes.
  • If prepared without yeast, the dough should rest, covered in the bowl for 15 minutes. 
  • To work up, divide the dough into two equal-sized pieces, work into rounds, shape into elongated loaves and place into proofing baskets with the seam side down (sprinkle the floured proofing basket with whole spices first). 
  • Once fully proofed, the loaves are slid into the oven without any steam.
  • Initial temperature 250°C reduced to 200°C (Reduced the oven temperature from 250°C to 200°C after 7 minutes of baking time).
  • Bake until well browned – approx. 55 minutes.