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Recipe: Bake Your Own Overnight White Bread

Thank you to Mark from Yorkshire for the below recipe…

This is a great-tasting, crusty white bread with nice big holes. It is the kind of bread that you would be served in a really good Italian restaurant and one that, if you were to take along to a dinner party, will almost guarantee that you get invited back next time.

This dough rises overnight, and the extended bulk fermentation gives it more time to develop complexity in its flavours than the One Day White Bread. The baked loaves should have a nice open interior and a crisp crust – assuming you bake the loaves well beyond the blond stage. This bread has many uses and won’t last long.


BULK FERMENTATION: 10 to 14 hours

PROOF TIME: About 1¼ hours

SAMPLE SCHEDULE: Mix at 8 p.m., shape into loaves at 8 a.m. the next morning, and bake at 9:15 a.m. The bread will come out of the oven a little after 10 a.m.


INGREDIENT                                   QUANTITY                        BAKER’S PERCENTAGE

Strong white bread flour             1,000 g                                             100%

Water                                              700 g                                                70%       32°C to 35°C (90°F to 95°F)

Fine sea salt                                   20 g                                                  2.0%

Instant dried yeast                        0.8 g / ¼ tsp                                    0.08%


There is no need to use extra strong or high-protein bread flour (sometimes called high-gluten flour). Standard strong bread flour, with a protein content of 11.7%, is ideal for this recipe. There is also no need to buy expensive flours to get really good results. Supermarket own brand flour is fine.

This recipe can also be made using normal plain white flour. The amount of water used should be reduced to 670 g / 67% in this case. Flour should always be at room temperature.

If this is your first-time making bread, I recommend watching this video by Richard Bertinet, in which he details his techniques for mixing, working with and shaping dough. The video is called ‘BASIC WHITE DOUGH’ and is on both YouTube and Odysee.

Initial mix

In a large bowl or similar container combine the 1,000 grams of flour with the salt and mix to disperse. Do the same with the yeast. Add 700 grams of 32°C to 35°C (90°F to 95°F) water. Using a dough scraper, mix well until everything is well incorporated. You should have a rough porridge type mixture, without any dry lumps of flour.

Working and developing the dough

Turn the mixture out onto your work surface. The mixture will be quite loose and wet, so resist the temptation to add any additional flour. Once you start to work the dough it will come together quite quickly.

Here’s how you do it:

Grab the dough with your both hands, fingers under the dough and thumbs above it.

Lift the dough in the air and flip it over.

Then stretch the dough towards yourself.

Fold the stretched piece of dough on itself.

Repeat steps 1-4

At the beginning, you will start with a shaggy mass that gradually becomes smoother, stronger, and less and less sticky. After roughly 7-8 minutes of folding, the dough will feel much smoother and more elastic. Once you reach the stage where the dough no longer sticks to the work surface and comes away from your fingertips, you know you are done.

Give the dough a few folds in on itself and form it into a medium tight ball and place into the bowl to prove.


Folding the dough during the early stages of the initial fermentation helps to develop the gluten network, which is what gives the dough strength.

If you have kneaded the dough thoroughly, you can get away without incorporating any additional folds. However, if you want to include one or two extra folds this is fine. It’s easiest to apply the folds during the first 1½ hours after mixing the dough. Apply the first fold about 30 minutes after mixing and the second fold during the next hour (when you see the dough spread out in the tub, it’s ready for the second fold).

After doing the last fold, cover the dough and let it continue to rise overnight at room temperature. When the dough is 2½ to 3 times its original volume, 12 to 14 hours after mixing, it’s ready to be divided.


Moderately flour a work surface about 2 feet wide. Flour your hands and sprinkle a bit of flour around the edges of the tub. Tip the tub slightly and, using a dough scraper, gently loosen the dough from the sides of the mixing bowl. Gently ease the dough out onto the work surface without pulling or tearing it.

With floured hands, pick up the dough and ease it back down onto the work surface in a somewhat even shape. Dust the area in the middle, where you’ll cut the dough, with a bit of flour. Cut the dough into 2 equal-size pieces with a dough knife or plastic dough scraper.


Dust 2 proofing baskets with flour. Shape each piece of dough into a medium-tight ball by folding the dough in on itself.

  1. Start with the 12 o’clock point and fold in on itself, around 2/3 of the way. Repeat with the 6 o’clock point. Do the same with the 3 o’clock and the 9 o’clock points.
  2. Now take one pair of opposite corners and fold into the middle, repeat with the remaining two corners.
  3. Repeat stage 2. again, so you have folded the dough in on itself three times.
  4. Turn the dough over, so it is seam side down on the counter. Using your dough scraper or your hands, gently pull the dough towards you so that it tightens the top of the dough and creates tension. Turn 90 degrees and repeat to even it out. Do this a few more times until you have a nice tight dough ball.
  5. Place each loaf seam side down in its proofing basket.

If you don’t have proofing baskets but want to get the same effect, you can line a bowl with a well-floured tea towel. Alternatively, you can proof the loaves on pieces of baking parchment. This will make it easier to get the loaves into the Dutch oven.


Lightly flour the tops of the loaves. Set them side by side and cover with a kitchen towel or place each basket in a non-perforated plastic bag. Plan on baking the loaves about 1¼ hours after they are shaped, assuming a room temperature of about 21°C (70°F). If your kitchen is warmer, they will be optimally proofed in about 1 hour. Use the finger-dent test to determine when they are perfectly proofed and ready to bake, being sure to check the loaves after 1 hour. With this bread, 15 minutes can make the difference between being perfectly proofed and collapsing a bit.


At least 30 minutes prior to baking, put a rack in the middle of the oven and put a Dutch oven on the rack with the lid on. Preheat the oven to 245°C (475°F). If you made two loaves, put the second loaf into the refrigerator about 20 minutes before baking the first loaf and bake the loaves sequentially, giving the Dutch oven a 5-minute reheat after removing the first loaf. Alternatively, you can keep the second loaf in the refrigerator overnight, in its proofing basket inside a non-perforated plastic bag, and bake it early the next morning; if you do this, put the second loaf in the refrigerator immediately after shaping.


For the next step, please be careful not to let your hands, fingers, or forearms touch the extremely hot Dutch oven.

Invert the proofed loaf onto a lightly floured countertop, keeping in mind that the top of the loaf will be the side that was facing down while it was rising—the seam side. Use oven mitts to remove the preheated Dutch oven from the oven. Remove the lid. Carefully place the loaf in the hot Dutch oven seam side up. Use mitts to replace the lid, then put the Dutch oven in the oven. Maintain the temperature at 475°F (245°C).

Bake for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the lid and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until at least medium dark brown all around the loaf. Check after 15 minutes of baking uncovered in case your oven runs hot. Remove the Dutch oven and carefully tilt it to turn the loaf out. Let cool on a rack or set the loaf on its side so air can circulate around it. Let the loaf rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.


If you do not have a Dutch oven, place a baking tray beneath the top of the oven underneath the heating element.  This will shield the bread from the heat of the element during the early stages of baking which will allow the bread to rise properly and prevent a crust forming too early. Half way through baking, remove the tray to allow the crust to get nice and dark.

When loading your bread into the oven, give the oven a spray with a garden sprayer to create some steam or put a small container into the bottom of the oven and put some water in.


Once you have made this bread a couple of times, you can change it a little by adding in some wholemeal flour to make a Country style bread. A normal  Country bread has roughly 10% – 20% wholemeal flour but you can substitute anywhere up to 40% wholemeal flour for the same quantity of white flour and the resulting dough will still be easy to handle, although not as smooth as a dough made with purely white flour.

Be aware that wholemeal flour needs a little bit more water, so if you include 10% wholemeal you probably won’t need to add more water. However, if you go up to 40% wholemeal you will probably need to increase the hydration to 72% – 73%.


It’s possible to adjust the timing of the Overnight White Bread recipe so it will work for somebody with a day job

during the work week. Follow the recipe for Overnight White Bread through step 3. Then, in the morning before going to work, take 5 to 10 minutes to divide and shape loaves from the dough you mixed the evening before. Put the proofing baskets in plastic bags and let the loaves proof slowly in the refrigerator while you are at work.

When you get home from work, remove the loaves from the refrigerator and let them sit out on the counter to finish proofing while you preheat the Dutch ovens. If you get home at 6 p.m., you will have fresh baked bread by 7:30p.m. Note that in this variation, the bulk fermentation time is 12 to 14 hours, and the proof time is about 10 hours (depending on when you get home from work).