I'd like to bake my own bread now and again, but timing things like proving and baking around a regular work day make it practically impossible. I'm not going to get up at 4am to make dough so it proves in time to be baked before work, and the kitchen is rather monopolised by dinner in the evenings. In an ideal scenario I would like to either:

  • Make dough before bedtime (before 10pm)
  • Knock back, second prove and bake around 7am


  • Make dough at breakfast time
  • Knock back, second prove and bake at dinner time

The second approach is probably better as the oven will likely be hot from dinner anyway so less energy wastage.

The problem is, I can't leave dough to prove for 8 to 10 hours by normal methodology. I'm wondering if there's some way I could reliably slow the first prove. Thinking slightly differently, I wondered about feeding the yeast in a controlled environment, specific amount of sugar and water temperature overnight, and then making dough with that and skipping the first proving.

Any recipes of convenience exist?

  • 1
    Yes, you need cold- or refrigerator-methods, sometimes also known as overnight method. But I am quite sure that we already have a duplicate Q/A. Which means while this post may be closed, you don’t have to wait for an answer! Don’t forget to take the tour and browse through our help center to learn more about how the site works. And welcome to Seasoned Advice!
    – Stephie
    Sep 20, 2018 at 11:56
  • Stephanie : I don’t know if it was a complete duplicate, as I asked for specific timings, while this one is more open ended. cooking.stackexchange.com/q/14184/67
    – Joe
    Sep 20, 2018 at 15:47
  • @Joe there are more Q/As about the topic, e.g. cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/13948/…
    – Stephie
    Sep 20, 2018 at 19:25
  • And somewhat related: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/84775/…
    – Stephie
    Sep 20, 2018 at 19:27
  • Thanks for all your useful comments. I will certainly check out the links but good to know I can slow or halt the proving for a while without killing off the second prove. I'll give it a go. Sep 20, 2018 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


I have had luck with refrigerating dough after the first proof and deflation. I allowed it to rest in the refigerator for about seven hours then removed it to the countertop for the second rise followed by baking. (The second rise will require more time than had it not been refrigerated, as the dough is cold)

This was a basic Italian Bread recipe with just white bread (strong-UK) flour, active dry yeast, water, salt and canola

You would need to experiment with other recipes; I cannnot predict with more and/or different ingredients


For sourdough boules I would usually do the rising in the evening, then shape the loaf and place it on a baking sheet with baking paper. I used to cover that with the biggest cooking pot I had, upturned, which comfortably fit around the loaf. The whole thing went into the fridge and would slow-proof overnight.

In the morning, I took it out, removed the pot and left it until the oven would preheat, then dust, score and bake.

With the 40 minute baking time (for a 500g flour, 340g water, yeast, salt and sourdough starter recipe, so one loaf), this whole process takes about one hour, including a bit of cooling time on a rack. Of course that depends on how quickly your oven can preheat.

In my experience, it did not make a significant difference between doing this at 7pm or 10pm, and I'd usually start the baking between 8 and 10 in the morning.

Here are two examples of two different breads I have done that way (both have part whole-grain spelt flour, hence the colour). The first one didn't have enough scoring, but the product is still OK for an amateur.

Homemade 50% spelt whole-grain boule loaf

Sliced homemade spelt whole-grain loaf in basket


I'm not going to get up at 4am to make dough

Get a machine to wake up early for you. Around me, bread machines can be easily found for $10 or $20 at the thrift store. All the ones I know of have a timer and a "dough only" setting, so the machine can be set up in the evening to start working in the early morning. On the dough-only setting it will do the initial mixing and kneading and the first rise, but not actually bake the bread.

Then you get up just a bit before your usual time. Form the loaf in the shape you want, let it rise once more, then put it in the oven.

One limitation, you might not want to use recipes that contain milk or other ingredients that could spoil overnight if you use this method.

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