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Easy Overnight Rustic Bread

  • Author: Ken Forkish|Flour Water Salt Yeast
  • Prep Time: 12 hours
  • Cook Time: 50 mins
  • Total Time: 12 hours 50 mins
  • Yield: 2 loaves 1x
  • Category: BREADS


A delicious overnight rustic white bread with a crisp crust and tender crumb. The dough rises overnight and bakes in the morning making it the ideal recipe for beginner bread makers. The result is a delightfully versatile loaf that is perfect sliced up for sandwiches and toasted with butter and jam.


  • 1000m grams (7 3/4 cups) white flour
  • 780 grams (3 1/8 cups) water, 90-95 degrees F
  • 1 TBSP + 1TSP fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp instant dried yeast
  • *This recipe works best with a 4 quart dutch oven.


  1. Prepare the dough: Mix the flour and warm water in a large mixing bowl or tub. Mix by hand until incorporated. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Mix the dough: Sprinkle the sea salt and yeast evenly over the top of the dough.
  3. Wet your hand so the dough doesn’t stick to you and mix the dough. Reach underneath the dough and pull one-quarter of it to fold over the top to the other side of the dough. Turn the bowl and repeat this stretch and fold three more times until the salt and yeast are fully enclosed. Be careful not to pull so hard that you tear the dough. With damp hands, use the “pincer method” to combine the ingredients. To do this, use your thumb and forefinger to make five or six “pincer” cuts across the whole piece of dough. Next, fold the dough over itself a few times. Repeat this several times until all of the ingredients are fully combined and there is some tension in the dough. Next, let the dough rest for a few minutes before folding for another 30 seconds or until the dough tightens up. This whole process should take about 4 minutes. Once complete, check the dough temperature. It should be 77-78 degrees for best results. Cover the bowl or tub and allow the dough to rise.
  4. Folding the dough: This dough bakes up best with three folds. Set a timer and begin 30 minutes after mixing the dough. Fold again EVERY 30 MINUTES until you have completed three folds. To fold the dough, dip one hand in warm water so the dough doesn’t stick to you. With your wet hand, reach underneath the dough and pull one quarter of it out and up to stretch it and then fold it over the top of the dough. Repeat this four to five times working around the dough until it has tightened up into a ball. Gently grab the whole ball and invert it so the seam side of the ball faces down. This will ensure the folds hold their position. The top of the dough will be smooth. After each fold, the dough will take longer to relax. Be extra gentle on the last fold so you do not deflate the dough. After completing the last fold, cover the dough and let it rise overnight at room temperature. In the morning, the dough should be 2 1/2 to 3 times its original volume. Now it’s ready to be divided.
  5. Divide the dough: Flour a flat work surface and with floured hands gently work the dough out of the bowl or tub onto the work surface. Be careful not to pull or tear the dough. Dust the middle of the dough mass with a bit of flour at the area where you will cut the dough in half. Using a large knife or dough scraper, cut the dough in two equal pieces.
  6. Shape the dough: Dust the inside of two proofing baskets with flour. The purpose of shaping the dough is to form a tight round while preserving the gases that have built up in the dough. It is these gases that create lovely air pockets in the loaf. Begin by brushing any loose flour off the top of the loaf. Using the same technique as in Step #3, stretch and fold one quarter of the dough at a time up and over the top to form a round, gently pulling each segment until you meet resistance and then folding it over the top to the opposite side. Repeat, working your way around the dough and forming a ball. Next, flip it over so the seam side is down on an area of the surface that is clean of flour so there is friction or tension on the surface. Finally, cup your hands around the back of the dough ball and pull the whole ball towards you on a dry, unfloured surface, about 6 to 8 inches at a time. Lead with your pinky fingers and be gentle but firm enough to create enough pressure that the dough ball doesn’t just slide across the countertop. You should feel the dough tighten up in a ball.
  7. Turn the dough a quarter turn and repeat this pull, turning and repeating until you’ve gone all the way around the dough ball two or three times. The dough ball should not be loose but does not need to be super tight either. The loaf should hold its shape. Repeat this process with the second dough ball and then place each piece seam side down in a proofing container that has been dusted with flour. Lightly flour the top of the shaped loaves and cover with a kitchen towel to proof.
  8. Proof the loaves: This is the final rise, after the loaf is shaped. For this bread, assume on baking it one hour and fifteen minutes after they are shaped, assuming the room temperature is about 70 degrees. If your kitchen is warmer, they will be proofed closer to one hour. To check that the dough has proofed completely, poke the rising loaf with a floured finger, making an indentation about 1/2 inch deep. If it springs back instantly, the loaf needs more proofing. If it springs back slowly and not fully, the loaf is proofed and ready to bake. If the indentation doesn’t spring back at all, the loaf is over proofed and will likely collapse when you remove it from the basket.
  9. Preheat: 45 minutes prior to baking, place a rack in the center of the oven and place 2 dutch ovens on the rack with the lids on. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. If you only have one dutch oven. place one ball of dough in the refrigerator 20 minutes before baking the first loaf and then bake the second loaf once the first loaf is done. Be sure to give the dutch oven a 5 minute reheat after removing the first loaf.
  10. Bake: Cut a piece of parchment paper wider than the size of the dutch oven. Invert the proofed loaf onto the parchment paper keeping in mind that the top of the loaf will be the seam side and the smooth side will now be on the bottom. Use oven mitts to carefully remove the hot dutch oven from the oven. Remove the lid and use the edges of the parchment paper to gently lift the dough up into the dutch oven. Use the mitts to replace the lid and return the dutch oven to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the lid and bake for 15 more minutes, until the loaf is a medium dark brown. Check you oven often to be sure the bread is not browning too quickly as all ovens heat differently. Remove the dutch oven and carefully turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack. Allow the loaf to rest for 15minutes before slicing.


Recipe for Saturday Morning Bread from Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish.
Bread is best enjoyed the day it is made. Store tightly covered in a cool dry place for up to three days.
If a proofing basket is not available, a suitable substitute would be a flour dusted wicker basket, banneton or a large kitchen bowl lined with a lint free tea towel and generously dusted with flour.