Sep 9, 2013

Overnight White Bread

This Overnight White Bread gets its name because you mix the dough in the evening and then let it rise at room temperature while you are sleeping.

Overnight White Bread

At first glance, this Overnight White Bread bears a resemblance to the typical no knead bread... except it is anything but. For example, baking this bread involves some "stretch and folds" that help this bread develop structure and a thick crunchy crust. It's a revelation. You can feel the dough develop that tension that helps the dough hold together and bake into such a tall and lovely loaf. I also think there is some magic involved.

To make this bread, you mix the dough after dinner, and then bake the bread the next morning. You need to stay awake for about two or three hours for the "stretch and fold" action, but after that, the dough develops at room temperature as you sleep.

Forkish Overnight White Bread
The next day you shape the loaves and let them rise in your bannetons or towel lined bowls while your oven and Dutch ovens preheat. I like to make two loaves and freeze one of them for the middle of the week. 

Check out this "crumb." Isn't it gorgeous? 

Forkish Overnight White Bread Crumb
Note: these loaves are proofed seam side down, and then baked with the seam side up. Rather than scoring the dough, you let it open up naturally. If you want to score the loaf, just proof seam side up. 

This last week we went on vacation with good friends to Cambria, CA, and I brought along a couple of these loaves. Slices of this bread were perfect every morning with breakfast, and we even barbecued slices for hamburger buns one night for dinner.

Overnight White Bread Crumb

This is my fourth Ken Forkish bread from Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast.  You need to get this book for the fabulous illustrations on how to do each of the techniques for these breads. 

Tools I used to make this bread:
  1. 12 quart Cambro bucket (a large bowl would work)
  2. Kitchen scale
  3. Two 9 inch bannetons 
  4. Two Lodge combo cooker Dutch ovens
  5. Plastic dough scraper (I like the ones from King Arthur flour)
  6. Metal bench scraper
  7. Bowl of water
  8. My hands (take your rings off unless you want them caked with sticky dough)
P.S. How do you know when your loaves are ready to bake? Here is Ken Forkish, the author, demonstrating the "finger dent test."

P.P.S. This recipe can be easily halved to make just one loaf.

On another note, the instructions also call for moving the bread to a sheet pan mid bake. I do this to prevent burning on the bottom of the loaf. If yours doesn't burn, then just leave it in the Dutch oven to finish baking.

May, 2018: I remade this bread, updated the photos and some notes about the recipe, and created a printable recipe card for this bread. The photo below is from the original post. I've made this bread over and over, and have found the recipe to be consistently delicious and pretty foolproof!

On a final note, every month, around the 28th, I'll be updating an old favorite recipe with new photos and printable recipe card. Be sure to follow me on Facebook to catch these updates. You can also join my Facebook group to post your photos (you don't have to be a blogger), blog posts, and recipes.

Overnight White Bread outside

bread, artisan, bake
Bread, Artisan Bread
Yield: 2 large loaves

Overnight White Bread


  • 1000 grams unbleached all purpose flour
  • 780 grams water, 90 to 95 degrees F 
  • 22 grams salt (not iodized)
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast such as SAF Red or Red Star Platinum


  1. With your hand, mix the flour and the water in the Cambro bucket or a very large bowl. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  2. Sprinkle the salt and the yeast over the dough, and, with a wet hand, fold the "sides" of the dough over the salt and yeast, and then pinch the dough a few times to incorporate. Stretch and fold the dough from all four sides, and then pinch the dough a few more times. Finish with a final set of stretch-and-folds. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. 
  3. Do three more stretch-and-folds, every 30 minutes, covering the dough each time. After the final time, cover the dough and let it rest at room temperature overnight. The dough should have nearly tripled in size and be quite bubbly on top. 
  4. Generously flour two proofing baskets or towel lined bowls with flour. I use a 50/50 mixture of wheat and rice flour to prevent sticking. 
  5. With a wet hand or a wet dough scraper, gently scrape the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half with a bench scraper. Gently shape each dough piece into a ball, and let it rest on the work surface, seam side down for 10 to 15 minutes. 
  6. After the bench rest, using your bench knife and hands, tighten up the shape of the dough ball by gently sliding the ball along the counter from all sides to create a taut skin. Place the dough, seam side down (see note above) in the baskets/towel lined bowls, and cover with oiled plastic wrap. About 45 minutes before baking, heat your oven to 475 degrees F with two Dutch ovens in the oven. If you only have one pan, you can bake the loaves one at a time. 
  7. Let rise for 60 to 80 minutes, until it slowly springs back when poked with your finger, but not all of the way. 
  8. Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, place a piece of parchment over the dough, and invert a dinner plate over the parchment. Flip the dough over, remove the basket/bowl, and place the dough in the Dutch oven using the parchment paper as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the loaf with the top of the Dutch oven, and place it in the oven. Repeat with the second loaf. 
  9. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove the Dutch ovens from the hot oven and place the loaves onto a sheet pan and return them to the oven, being careful not to burn yourself. Bake for 15 to 25 minutes more, until a deep golden brown, and the internal temperature reaches 210 degrees F. Cool completely (at least an hour) on a wire rack. 


  1. Beautiful bread Karen! And oooh boy, do I wish I had a Dutch oven!!

    1. The Lodge ones aren't expensive.... I think you "need" one Yvonne. =)

    2. Ideal size is around 3.5 to 4 quarts. This makes the breads taller and not as wide. There are low cost enameled cast iron pans and they are often on sale. Look for Bella or Martha Stewart on sale at Macy's. There are many other Chinese imports as well, selling for a fraction of the price of Le Creuset, and of comparable quality. Just look for good workmanship (well enameled, for instance.)

  2. Can you do this without a dutch-oven? All I have is heavy metal bread pans.

    1. You can do a baking stone with a stainless steel bowl placed over the loaves if you like. Otherwise, you will need to create a steam oven.

  3. Hi Karen, just wanted you to know I made a smaller version of this bread last night, and it turned out really well. I really liked the long proofing time, as it meant I had dough ready to shape and bake after work, much quicker than doing left to proof in the fridge. The result was chewy-crusty, and quite flavoursome. Thanks for a great recipe, will definitely use this again.

    1. I'm so excited to hear that! Thank you so much for letting me know!

  4. Please excuse me for commenting on this so late.

    Forkish's book really is one of the best, isn't it? I can't get over how much better our bread is since I started following his advice to a.) actually measure the temperature of the water and dough and b.) knead in the bowl.

    Overnight White Bread has become our every day bread. Except (of course) it can't really be called "white" bread because I invariably add at least a little whole wheat and some sort of seeds or grains (wheat berries, teff, rolled oats, and/or ground flaxseed)

    One of the things I haven't yet mastered are the natural gashes that Forkish achieves. I still have a lot ot learn about shaping, I think....

    1. No excuses necessary Elizabeth! It is one of the best books. It makes it so easy to understand the process. I have had some success with the gashes, but some of my breads have gone rogue! Thanks so much for visiting. It is an honor.

    2. Ken does not instruct you to make any gashes. When I do this recipe, I divide the dough, do a quick fold (pull in all four corners and fold over the top of the bread) while minimizing the amount of flour that gets in the middle, and then turn the ball over (seams at the bottom) and tighten the ball by rotating and slightly folding under. The cracked top happens all by itself in the rising process. Also please note that there are substantial differences in some of the processes here from Ken's original recipe. For instance, he simply removes the top from the Dutch ovens after 30 minutes, and allows the top to brown. DON'T open the Dutch oven before 30 minutes - - you will let out substantial moisture. Not necessary to finish the loaves on an open pan. Also note that Instant Yeast is not the same as Fleishmann's and similar dry activated yeast. One brand is SAF - - instant yeast is great. Requires 1/3 less than standard yeast, and does not have to be pre-activated - - just throw it in a recipe just like salt or sugar. One final thing: I have two circular bannetons. I do not line them with towels; instead i just work flour into the grooves, put the bread in, and sprinkle flour around the edge of the bread which will rise and come into contact with the banneton. No "spray oil" on the top. Also, I use a plastic trash can liner, the size for a small office trashcan, to enclose the banneton completely - - no "wrap in plastic wrap". The bag can be pulled up so there's plenty of room for the bread to rise without touching it. Last thing: I suppose using a parchment sling to put the loaves into the (extremely hot) Dutch ovens is clever, but I simply take off my oven mitts, pick up the loaf from the bottom, and carefully drop it into the pot. Just don't get spaced out and pick up the top of the Dutch oven without putting your oven mitts back on!

    3. Hi! I would like to make this bread. You really use all purpose flour? Would Gold Medal Unbleached All purpose flour work? Thank you so much!

    4. I use King Arthur Flour, which has a slightly higher protein level, but I think Gold Medal unbleached would work, or you could use bread flour just to be safe. It would still work just fine.

  5. Hey there Karen. Im new to baking and have made this recipe twice now. Both resulting in a beautiful crust but a gummy crumb. Any ideas why this may be happening? Undercooking maybe? I read that over proofing could be a culprit but not sure if thats the case here. Thanks!

    1. Do you have an instant read thermometer? First, I would make sure the interior reaches 210 degrees F. Second, try waiting at least two hours before slicing. Other than that, I can't think of anything else....

  6. What beautiful loaves of bread! I love that you grilled up some slices. I'd beit it would be lovely with some soup as well.

  7. Love that this rises overnight! We are big bread fans here, and this looks perfect!

  8. I am always in awe of your bread and this one looks so beautiful - great photos. I like the idea of the overnight rise.

  9. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have issues with rising bread, these tips are great and love that it rises overnight. And that crust looks fantastic!

  10. Is it alright with you if I eat this entire loaf of bread by myself???

  11. replaced 200g of water with pale ale, added 50g of salt rather than 22, and fooled friends into asking me about my starter! got a wonderful sourdough taste without all the work

  12. Can you make at night and proof until after work?

    1. Sure. You will have to get up about three or four hours before going to work for the mixing and stretching and folding.


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