S l o w Tasty Overnight Dough

extra flavour from a slow rise
Overnight dough does exactly what it says on the - er - tin. You make it the evening before and then leave it overnight, so it's ready to bake the following day.

Eh? Why would anyone want to do that?

Leaving the dough overnight has two advantages, as far as I can see.

For one, it frees up time in the day. So, if you spend your morning up to the eyeballs in the various occupations of three under 6s (for example) you don't have to find time to knead the bread because it's already done. I think it's rather nice to have some kneading time, all to myself, perhaps with an audio book for company, after they have gone to bed.

Come to that, you could do your kneading at any time and use this s l o w method to have the bread conveneniently ready whenever you want it.

Don't forget flavour!

Allegedly - and don't take my word for it - the longer the yeasts have to ferment, the tastier the bread becomes. Thus, if you make your bread slowly, letting it ferment overnight, you are developing a tastier bread with a good-things-come-to-those-who-wait flavour.

Want to try?

You can do a long, slow ferment with any dough. The trick is to reduce the amount of yeast and keep the dough cool.

Reduce the yeast

The more yeast you put into your recipe, the quicker your dough will rise, roughly speaking. If you want your dough to develop slowly, without bursting out of the tin and covering your entire fridge in a coating of impenetrable goo, you need to start with less yeast. There's an actual recipe, below, but if you want to use a different recipe, that's fine, just half the amount of yeast.

This recipe is for a 50% wholemeal loaf:

250g/8 oz/1½ cups wholemeal flour
250g/8 oz/1½ cups strong plain flour
¼ tsp instant dried yeast
2 tsp salt
315g/10 fl oz/1⅓ cups water

*This is such a small anount of yeast that you may have problems weighing it out - my scales aren't that sensitve so I've devised a method for measuring out dried yeast without scales.

Once you've made your dough, leave it to ferment for 45 minutes as usual (method here if you're wondering). Shape it as usual. Place it in the tin as usual. Then...

Cool it

Instead of letting the dough prove quickly, in a warm place, pop it in the fridge. The chill will slow down the action of the yeast - it'll still be alive and fermenting, just much slower than at room temperature. This, as I said, is what will give your bread a great flavour.

Refrigerated dough will last overnight quite happily, and beyond.

When you get up in the morning, take the dough out of the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature.
NOTE:This will take about three hours, so if you were hoping for fresh bread for breakfast, you need to try again tomorrow and get up before dawn to lift that loaf out. Nevermind, it'll be ready for lunch.

As the dough warms up, yeast activity will increase and you will see the dough starting to rise. Once it has properly proved (has passed the top of the tin if you're making loaves) it is ready to bake as normal.


You get the Real Deal here: I'm telling it how it is for me. I honestly can't tell the difference in flavour with this loaf. It's totally worth it for the convenience of getting to do the kneading the night before, without children, but the flavour thing is a moot point. It tasted great! But I'm not sure that it was actually greater than usual.

Maybe I'm just insensitive. Maybe I have a tendancy to eclipse the delicate flavours of the bread with too much butter (come on, I didn't even begin with the Marmite!). I'd love to know how it was for you. Does the overnight prove really make that much difference to the flavour?

More Goodies

Want a regular ol' everyday loaf?

Got more questions? Leave me a comment. I'd love to meet you :)


  1. Hi Rachel

    Is this for a 2lb loaf and if so can I split the dough to create two 1lb loaves for my wife and I and another for my daughter/friends?


    1. Hi Peter,
      Yes, that recipe is for a 2lb loaf and you could certainly split it any way you like: smaller loaves, rolls, pizza bases etc. If you make smaller loaves the cooking time will have to be reduced. I'd recommend 5 mins at a very high temp to start with, followed by the rest of the cooking time at a slightly lower temp. As a rough guide, if you've halved the size of the loaf, half the cooking time too. Cook until the bread is a nice golden colour, pops out of the tin easily and sounds hollow when you knock on its bottom.
      I hope you all enjoy your bread!

  2. Thanks Rachel

    I've been having good success with Paul Hollywood's bloomer but now use your shaping method before 2nd proving. Loaves are much more consistent in shape now.

    My oven won't accommodate two bloomers so thought I'd have a go at making two smaller versions of your overnight recipe. I'll let you know how I get on.

    BTW, I use Morrisons fast acting yeast (7gm packs) for the bloomer but also Allinsons Active Dried Yeast when using less than 7gms. I usually proof it in some warm sugary water until it forms a scum and that works well for Hollywood's mini baguettes. Would I be safe to do this for this recipe?

    I'm glad I signed up and it's encouraging me to be a bit more adventurous.


    1. Peter that's great! In glad you're having success! I await news of the small loaves!
      Yes you can use the yeast as you suggest, that will work well. Also, if using sachets, it wouldn't matter if you use 7g instead of the 5g given in the recipe, if you find it more convenient to use a whole sachet at a time. Your use of the loose yeast makes more sense in these situations where less than 7g will do.
      Thanks for your comments. Keep me posted please :)

    2. Hi Rachel

      The first batch is sitting in the fridge as I type. I didn't separate the dough into the two tins yet. Could I do that in the morning as it's warming up or should I have put it into the tins before placing in the fridge?

    3. Great! It'll be fine to do that in the morning. Just allow lots of time for the dough to warm up and rise fully before you bake it. Good luck!

    4. I'll take a picture (or two) and if I can work out how to Flickr them I'll post 'em for you to chuckle over.

    5. Ooh thanks I'll look out for them!

    6. I've stuck an image on your Flickr page. It may be under thurnscoelad but I explained what I think went wrong.

    7. Thank you! Off to have a look...

    8. Hi Rachel .... 5 yrs later!! Could I do this overnight method and in the morning shape up a free form cob?

      What do you suggest?? Thank yiu.

    9. Yes, definitely. The thing is to allow plenty of time for the dough to warm up so that it can relax/stretch/rise before baking

  3. Easy no knead artisian bread only 1/4 t of yeast and it's delish https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_1CKVcXe06A&feature=share

  4. 1st time I used regular white flour. Then tried it with 2 cups white flour and 1 cup of light rye flour with 2 T of caraway and it was fabulous. The video link a above

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments - sorry I didn't reply before now. The rye flour/caraway mix sounds great. Good to know that you can taste a difference with the longer proof time.

  6. I tried the overnight dough. I left it in the oven to rise ready for a quick cook in the morning. It worked just fine. The family had fresh bread (plus the smell of new baked bread) for breakfast.

    1. Great! I'm glad it was a success. Did you set the oven to come on automatically?


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