I'm afraid I know little about breadmaking.

Is there a bread where you could:

-- mix it and I guess knead it in the evening (say around 9pm),

-- leaving it out overnight (perhaps to rise (?) etc.?)

-- then about 8? hours later (say around 7am?) you could put it in an oven

-- and indeed then bake the loaf (or perhaps rolls) at 7am (I assume that takes roughly 1/2 hour? but I know nothing).

Thanks for your expertise.

Thanks to all for the amazing answers here!

With thanks to JSM below. This link was hugely useful - merry Christmas!


  • 3
    Does "out" mean "on the counter" or would "in the fridge" be ok, too?
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 17:58
  • related : cooking.stackexchange.com/q/14184/67
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 18:42
  • hi @Stephie ... I hate refrigerators! :) (The only thing I hate more than fridges is microwaves!) But sure, any solution, involving a refrigerator, would be hugely appreciated. thanks!
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 18:58
  • 3
    If you hate refrigerators(!?), you're probably not going to like this suggestion, but most bread makers have a timer that you can use to bake bread overnight. Just dump the ingredients in, set the timer and wake up to freshly cooked bread.
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 19:23
  • Hi Ross! that is actually a practical suggestion - interesting. A vague question: can you use "real" ingredients (flour, yeast, water) in "bread machine" bread?? or do you have to have odd additives to make 'em work??
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 20:40

7 Answers 7


It seems the main thing you're trying to do is avoid any work in the morning before bake. As suggested in comments, the easiest way to do that is to get a mechanical bread-maker. Since you say you're inexperienced in bread-making, you can dump everything in the night before, program it with a time, and voila -- fresh bread in the morning. (I don't tend to like the loaf quality that comes out of most home bread-makers, though; but if you find one that makes good bread, this is the best solution.)

That said, if you actually want to make the bread yourself, you can do what you want. It's just going to require a lot of work the evening before. Many recipes can be adapted to do this, though it tends to work best with sourdough loaves. Basically, the technique works like this:

  1. Mix dough
  2. Knead
  3. First fermentation (1-3 hours, depending on yeast quantity and bread type)
  4. Shape tightly, preferably with a pre-shaping and bench rest (another 15 minutes)
  5. Second fermentation, generally takes place entirely in fridge
  6. Place in fridge overnight
  7. Remove and bake immediately

Jeffrey Hamelman suggests this for a number of sourdough recipes in his book Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes. He also notes that it's not necessary to let the dough come to room temperature before baking: assuming it has risen enough, you can remove it directly from the fridge and bake with little consequence.

(Also, just to reply to one notion in comments -- it is possible to bake bread starting from a cold oven. Many people prefer to do it that way, though the results tend to be a little less consistent and oven spring is generally a little less. If you do so, it might be easier to bake in a pot. But it would be possible to get up in the morning, turn your oven on, throw the bread in immediately, and have it baked maybe 30-45 minutes later, depending on the size of the loaf. For those who don't believe me, here's someone who did a comparison of cold oven start vs. preheated and found little difference.)

My experience trying shaping before overnight retarding long ago is that it can work well for sourdough (see method #2 here for more details), since the yeast tends to rise much more slowly in the fridge. The danger with normal baker's yeast is that most recipes use too much yeast to make this method work -- what will happen is that your bread won't cool fast enough in the fridge, then the dough will overproof and collapse a bit in the oven, often with poor crust formation.

Normally, when professional bakers retard pre-shaped dough in the fridge, they do so for only a couple hours, which tends to add flavor. For detailed instructions with illustrations and a recipe showing this, see here.

Basically, what you want to do is a similar thing to that recipe, but with less yeast, so you can refrigerate overnight. Unfortunately, that will tend to make your bulk rise go slower, which means a longer wait in the evening between steps.

For more information and recipes online, I'd try instead searching for something like "retarding after shaping," which is the kind of recipe you're looking for. You just need to find one that allows retarding for 8 hours or more, rather than just a couple hours.

The other option is obtain sourdough cultures and try those recipes. Usually with them the pace of the yeast rise is appropriate for an overnight final proof in the fridge. Still, the results will be a little more finicky (i.e., harder to get a "perfect" loaf every time) than using a more standard method.

Also, I just noticed you mentioned rolls in your question. Those would be a lot easier than trying to do this with an entire loaf, and it's pretty standard to refrigerate overnight before baking. If the recipe is one that depends on removing from the oven for a while before baking, then just delay putting the dough in the fridge for maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of that time (varies by recipe) the night before. Then you should be able to bake straight from the fridge to the oven the next morning. Again, it may take a bit of experimentation with a specific recipe to get this perfect.

  • 2
    I bake bread commonly and often prefer the method you're describing. However, I do not bake the bread "immediately" after taking it out of the fridge. I allow it a half hour or so on the counter to allow it to warm up slightly. I find I geta better bake that way. I do this with standard recipes. True, on occasion I've had an overproofed loaf, but not to the point that it's ruined. I simply make a point to reduce the yeast in that recipe slightly in the next go-round. Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 4:32
  • I always want to TICK ALL THE ANSWERS! :) For the record I'll tick this one since it seems to be the most popular and is a great help. Thanks to all, I wish I could tick all the answers! :)
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 17:35
  • If you’re going to do a “cold rise” overnight, once you’ve kneaded the dough place it in an oiled ziplock bag, make sure it’s tightly closed, and douse the dough in an ice water bath before refrigerating it. The dough won’t cool quickly enough if you just pop it in the fridge after kneading, and it will over-proof. I know this because I’ve got some dead pizza dough in my fridge right now! I don’t even know if it’s good for paté fermentee.
    – Just Joel
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 17:29

The main problem with your method is the fact that leaving bread out to rise at room temperature for 8+ hours almost always leads to overproofing.

Overproofing usually means the gluten formation has been stretched to its very limits and will usually result in the dough collapsing.

Most breads dough made the night before will have a retarded(slowed) fermentation overnight in the refrigerator and then a ~1hr proofing at room temperature in the morning before its baked.

For a beginner bread baker, I recommend Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhart if you have the means to purchase this book.

  • 2
    You might prefer Reinhart's simpler book, Artisan Breads Every Day, if you're not looking to get in too deep. Pretty much the whole book is focused on things you can (or have to) leave in the fridge.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 18:22
  • 1
    @JoeBlow The book "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" also has an easy method for this, similar to Bittman's in JSM's answer. I usually make the book's basic dough recipe, leave it on the counter for an hour or two to give it a head start fermenting, then put it in the fridge overnight and bake the next day.
    – Dan C
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 19:11
  • @DanC - when you say "and baek the next day" does it go "straight in the oven" the next day? Or do you mean, the next day you first need a couple hours (for rising/kneading/whatever) and then in the oven?? That's kind of the crux of the matter here... :O
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 20:43
  • @JoeBlow You do need to form it into a loaf and then let it rise for a while (45-60 minutes) before baking.
    – Dan C
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 20:55

There are many bread recipes that can be made up ahead and put into the refrigerator to rise slowly for several hours or overnight. Some standard recipes can be adapted to this method, but you may need to adjust ingredients to prevent over-proofing. You can find plenty of this thing by searching for "easy overnight bread recipes" or similar queries.

This is a technique I use for cinnamon rolls that I want fresh baked in the morning (but don't want to get up in the wee hours to start the process).

  • I've really not found an approach that ALLOWS YOU TO SPEND LITTLE TIME IN THE MORNING ... even the all-nite recipes I have found, call for (say) 1 hr of resting, etc, in the morning.... :O
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 19:16
  • 2
    @JoeBlow But note that you will have to pre-heat your oven (yes, you do!) and during that time you can get your bread "to temperature". So you are not "loosing" time.
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 19:37
  • Sadly I really couldn't find anthing in the "overnight" --- "less time in the morning" vein!!!
    – Fattie
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 20:38

Try this (no-knead bread).

I have done it a few times, and it is great. One thing to note though is that I used parchment paper inside the dutch oven as per instructions on a different site, and it discolored the enamel. You may not actually need to do anything to the pan itself.


Yes, this is the oldest way to make bread for the morning - you just need to use less yeast to avoid "over proving". My recipe below is for an enriched loaf but for a "traditional" more sourdough-tasting bread just leave out the sugar/oil. I make a batch of this every week so it's tried and tested. I use 3/4 wholemeal to white bread flour but it works just as well with all white. To make 2 800g loaves I use 1kg flour, 40g sugar, 10g salt and half a level teaspoon of dried yeast. To this add 670 ml water and 50ml oil, mix thoroughly (no need to knead), cover the bowl and leave at room temperature overnight. In the morning flour and shape it (I use 2 800g loaf tins). Second prove and bake as usual (I give it 45 mins to 1 hour to rise over the oven while it's warming up, 20 minutes at 220C then turn down to 170C for 25 minutes).


Bagels are supposed to be left in the refrigerator over night to "cold ferment". The only catch is that you have to dunk them in boiling malt water then bake them. And bagels are a bit more intensive than regular bread. But, the payoff is worth the work! You'll never want a grocery store bagel again :)


If you are just wanting to throw together a loaf of bread in the morning without having to deal with the timing on rising, etc. try a beer bread (example). I bake one that takes about 45 minutes, and experiment with different craft brews to alter the flavor. I made one the other night with a citrus IPA and threw together a honey butter with some orange peel. All of that took an hour start to finish :)


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