Pro Tip: Selecting the correct type of ice can ensure a dough’s proper temperature and hydration.

Can one degree really make that big of a difference? Bakers strive to keep dough temperatures as consistent as possible, although this is more difficult than it may seem.

Heat is generated during the mixing process and dough absorbs the heat generated by the mixer motor as it works to develop the dough. Mathematically, if the dough coming out of the proof box is 1°F lower than the next dough it would require an additional 8°F from the oven if baked for the same amount of time as the warmer dough (or the same temperature for 15 seconds more bake for buns or 30 seconds more bake for bread).

Of course, this would be impossible for the oven to independently provide this exclusively to one dough, thus the need for consistency. During the summer months, this can become more challenging, and in many cases the ability to achieve the desired temperature is impossible.

Given these challenges, many bakeries either rent or purchase ice machines for use during the summer months. In some cases, bakeries choose to have ice delivered and simply store it onsite vs. making their own. So what's the advantage to adding ice vs. chilled water? At sea level, one pound of 32°F ice stores 144 BTUs more cooling energy compared to one pound of 32°F water. This means that if you converted 50% of your chilled water to ice, you would get additional cooling capacity.

For example, assume your formula calls for 700 lbs of chilled water and that water is at 32°F. If we replaced half of that water with ice, the 350 lbs of ice would store an additional 50,400 BTUs of cooling capacity or equal to 4.2 tons of refrigeration.

The most critical component to consider when deciding to use ice is selecting the “right” type of ice. Bakers prefer flake ice or sheet ice because it is thin and will fully melt before the mixing process is complete. This is very important for the development of dough and ensures proper and even hydration.

Rowdy Brixey is founder and president of Brixey Engineering Inc.

You can connect with him on LinkedIn.