I bake simple white loaves quite often. Usually my recipe is a very basic one, like this Classic white loaf from BBC Good Food.

I have also experimented with increasing the hydration of the loaf.

Sometimes at the end of the day there isn't time to complete the recipe (something comes up, etc). I do know that certain bread recipes call for an overnight first proof in the fridge. Are there certain bread types that are suitable for adjusting for an overnight first proof, for example, my white bread one, or a high hydration one? What adjustments do I need to make/what must I be careful of?

I was thinking of some things, or wondering about problems like:

  • bringing up to temperature the next morning.
  • less initial kneading night before because the proof is so long.
  • too big holes in the bread if second proof too long.
  • There's no adjustments to make, you use whatever recipe you want, just put it into the fridge right away, don't let it proof and then stick it in the fridge because it will over-proof.
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 19:17
  • 1
    @GdD less yeast and cold ingredients, though. At least that's what professional bakers are taught, afaik.
    – Stephie
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 19:40

1 Answer 1


When you consider overnight proofing in the fridge, the first and probably most important change is the amount of yeast. Your sample recipe is a very mainstream yeast-rich one (and even for non-fridge preparation I personally would use less and proof a tad longer).

For overnight proofing, the rule of thumb is 1-2% fresh or 0.4-0.7% dry yeast - so for your 500g flour you would be using between 2 and 3.5 grams of dry yeast, 2.5g would be my choice or "a bit less than 1/2 sachet".

Also, you want to use cool ingredients, not lukewarm like you are used to.

Kneading is in fact a matter of taste: the no-knead types will give you a more "hole-y" result (often also called "artisan"), but you can knead just as you are used to until your dough is smooth.

When you take the risen dough out of the fridge the next morning, you will probably notice that the dough is a bit less sticky and a bit more "stable" (lacking a better word here), so probably quite easy to work with. If you take it out of the fridge, shape it and set it aside for the second and final rise, the time difference shouldn't be too great, but as always with yeast dough, use visual clues and the "poke / spring back test" instead of a timer to determine the desired grade of proofing. For me, by the time my oven and baking stone are heated through, the dough is easily ready.

I have used the cold proofing process for a wide range of doughs, from Hefezopf over classic breakfast buns to high-hydration recipes. The most significant differences I found were that buttery recipes need a tad longer (I suspect the cool butter needs to soften up a bit before the dough can rise) and high-hydration recipes that were just a sticky mess turned into something that was manageable without loads of extra flour.

But one word of advice, speaking from experience: Starting out with a "warm and yeast-rich" dough, then looking at the watch and just moving everything to the fridge might give you a surprise the next morning when your dough has climbed out of the bowl and started to wander around a bit. Plus the yeast might be a bit too spent for a good second rise and you might have to "wing it" a bit.

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