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I'm following a recipe for making dough for a challah recipe, and the recipe calls for warm water. How warm should the water be (in degrees)? Do I need to heat it, or is room-temperature good enough?

And, whatever the correct answer is, does it apply to all recipes that call for warm water?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

As a rule of thumb- you can comfortably hold your finger in warm water.

100°F (38°C). Yeast wake up well at this temperature.
http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/bread/yeast_temp.html

This time of year my house is 80°F (27°C). but I heat my water a little past that (~120°F or 50°C) to compensate for cooler ingredients- you really want the dough to be around 80F.

This will apply to all yeast recipes that call for warm water.

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All recipes that are using warm water to activate yeast are looking for water in the 104-112F range. Much hotter than that and you run a chance of killing them, cooler and it won't bloom as sucessfully, especially 'instant' yeasts which do not react well to dissolving in cool water.

Be sure you take into account the temperature of the bowl or other vessel the water will be going into.

GOOD WATER is crucial to GOOD BREAD. Use filtered water if you possibly can, I just use water from the filtration system on my fridge, some people will go further. One benefit to using the water out of my fridge is that it is always the same temp, winter or summer, and so I know exactly how much time it will need in the microwave to hit the temps I need for cooking.

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I've read many places that water is crucial and it makes sense... but I've always just used tap water and never done anything special and never had any problems with flavor or yeast development. I wonder if I've just had good tap water in the places I've lived or if it really doesn't matter so much after all. Have you had bread not turn out due to bad water? If so how bad did the water have to be? –  Sobachatina Jun 1 '11 at 2:36
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Filtered water is by no means necessary. Maybe if you have really nasty well water, both otherwise... just no. –  BobMcGee Jun 1 '11 at 17:26
    
There are plenty of cities with terrible water, and it does make a difference. Kind of have to experience it I guess. –  renegade Jun 2 '11 at 19:35
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