Overnight White Bread | Karen’s Kitchen Stories

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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. 

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