Overnight bread

25 February 2015
Last week I wrote about soaking your rolled oats before you eat them and the benefits that  come from that. Today I thought I'd continue on and talk about soaking other rye and wheat grains before they're eaten; today's post is about bread. The reasoning behind all this is that grains soaked before cooking are easier to digest than those that aren't, and if they're soaked in an acidic liquid such as whey, buttermilk, yoghurt, or water with lemon juice, the grain will release most of its goodness instead of a small portion of it. It's all got to do with humans having only one stomach so unsoaked grains pass through too fast to be broken down. That causes digestive problems for some people and the grains don't have enough time to release all their goodness, which affects all of us.  Other grain-eating mammals such as cows, goats etc. have more than one stomach, or several compartments in their stomach, that allow them to process their food a lot longer than we do.

This bread is good on the first day and lasts to a second day but the crust and the bread itself aren't like a soft sandwich loaf. It's drier and the crust is crunchy.
 It makes delicious toast and that's how we have it on the second day.
If you don't like that texture, try the rye mixed loaf below which is more like the texture of a sandwich loaf.  Both are excellent as toast.
This is the half white-half rye loaf. It's the one I like the most because I think it has a better texture than the white loaf. 

If you read about how to make bread in Nourishing Traditions it's a long process that I don't have the time nor the inclination for. I'm sure it produces very good bread but I'm a regular bread maker and need my bread to fit in with everything else I do in a day. I'm happy with the so called five minute bread, that I make up and allow to sit in the fridge for a few days.  It's well and truly soaked by the time I bake my bread.

I found very similar recipe in my Maura Laverty classic Irish cook book, Full and Plenty, that I'm going to try this week. Her recipe for "yeast bread (overnight method)" was published in 1960. I'll share that recipe with you next week when I post about the bread I make.

The way I do the five minute bread is to make up the recipe in Artisan bread in five minutes a day, but with a tweak. You'll need a storage container capable of holding the mixture that will sit in the fridge for at least overnight, and for a few days after that. That takes care of the soaking. You can double the recipe quite easily if you have the room to store the dough and then you'll only make up one batch of dough for several loaves of bread.

The book says it makes four one pound loaves (that's just under two kilos).
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1½ tablespoons yeast
  • my tweak is to add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the water.  OR you could use ½ cup of buttermilk, whey or yoghurt to the liquid before adding it to the mix, but you'll have to adjust the water content accordingly. Mix it thoroughly so it will be easier to incorporate it into the flour. 
  • 1½ tablespoons coarse salt
  • 6½ cups unbleached white flour (or half rye and half white wheat flour)
I do this step in the morning, the day before I want the bread. 

Before mixing them together, mix the top group together, then the second group together. Then add half the liquid to half the flour and mix together thoroughly. If you have a big mixer with a dough hook you can use that because it takes an effort to mix this. I do it in two batches and use a spatula. When the first batch is finished, tip it into your storage container and start the second batch.  When both batches are in the container, mix them together with your hands, put a tea towel over the container and leave it on the bench to start rising. 

After about two hours, take the tea towel off, put the lid on but don't press it down to make it air tight. The dough will let off gas and it needs to have some means of escape. I use a Decor long plastic bin and have the top attached at one end and sitting on the top other end.  Put the dough in the fridge and store it there until you're ready to use it, but you can use it at any point after this first rise.

The dough after it's been removed from the fridge.

Don't knead the dough. It will develop the gluten and you don't want that. Just fold over the dough onto itself until it forms a smooth top.

When you want to bake a loaf, about two hours beforehand, take a piece of dough suitable for the size of your loaf from the container. Place it on a lightly floured board and fold the dough into itself so you have a smooth top and uneven bottom. You don't want to knead the dough, just bring it togehter as a nice smooth loaf. Let the dough sit to rise and return to room temperature. It won't rise a lot, it will do that more in the oven when it's baking.

Make sure the dough has flour over the top because that will protect it while it rests and rises.

About 20 minutes before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450F/250C and place a cast iron pot with lid in the oven to heat up. After the dough has risen (about 45 minutes) carefully place the dough into the cast iron pot and with a very sharp knife, slash to top of the dough. Place the lid on the top of the pot.  You could use a pizza stone to bake on, that is how they bake it in the artisan bread book.

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake until the top is golden brown.

Remove from the pot and place on a cake rack to cool.

The method below is the same recipe, using a cast iron pot, but with the addition of the dough being baked in a loaf pan inside the cast iron pot.

You can leave the dough in the fridge for up to a week if you want to.  I think it makes better bread the longer it's in the fridge. I usually make a fresh loaf every second day and I get three fairly large loaves from one batch. If I had a large family or we ate more bread, I'd make up a double portion of the dough at a time.  I have to say Maura's recipe looks easier so I'm looking forward to trying it. I have a sneaking suspicion I'll like it. ;- )

If you have trouble making bread it's probably because you don't knead the dough long enough or you under or over proof it. This method takes all that away and replaces it with time in the fridge. If you've never made a good loaf, try this and see how you go with it. Or, maybe you just want to wait for Maura's recipe. And I don't blame you at all for that.


  1. Dear Rhonda - when I eat store brought grains bread I have flatulence all the time much to my embarrassment but when I eat my own homemade bread I do not. I have come to the conclusion that the store brought bread grains are not soaked before the bread is made

    1. I find the same thing with store-bought canned beans and pulses- my family has no problems when I soak and cook from dried myself.

  2. After years and years of bread making I have fully reverted to no-knead breads - the family prefer the rustic texture, it is far easier than having to knead. I think I will start experimenting using this method with my sourdough starter too. I really love the shape of your loaf. I bake mine in my Romertopf

  3. The last few weeks I've been baking more and more bread trying to get it into my routine. I made my first sourdough yesterday and it tasted amazing. It was a no kneed recipe as well so easy to do with the kids hanging off my legs! Hopefully I'll keep baking bread as I really enjoy it but learning the timings can be tricky and I think it puts people off. Your method sounds good as it takes a lot of that away.

    1. That's right Kev, it can be tricky when you're busy every day. I find that if I do up a batch of this, even though that takes some time with the mixing, it's then set up and ready to go for later in the week. Good luck.

  4. Great idea Rhonda, to use a loaf tin inside the car iron pot. I live alone and when friends and family come I make one of those big impressive loaves with interesting carvings on them. But the size of the sandwiches range from tiny to huge in a round loaf. This way they are all similar sized, Much easier when you live alone, easier to saw through as well.
    All my bread is no knead and with a long (usually several days fermenting periode) If you leave it more than a day, a certain sourdoughy taste begins to develop. So then you don't necessarily need the lemon juice.
    I also use the remnants of my dough clinging to the bowl to make the new dough. This way you get a sourdough-like bread without having to make an offical sourdough starter.

  5. Absolutely love the idea. I am going to give it a go with spelt flour and see what happens!

  6. I had given up on bread making because every loaf I made was so heavy that no-one would eat it!
    I'm going to try this as i think it will bypass some of the things I must've been doing wrong.

    p.s. I've just got a great book from my local library with lots of basic how-to steps for making basic things like bread, mascarpone cheese, yoghurt and tortillas. It's called D.I.Y. Delicious by Vanessa Barrington. Lots of photos to help too.

  7. Rhonda this is a bit revolutionary for me, thank you, I've done Five Minute bread but this seems a bit different. I'll post my results at the Forum.

  8. Late here. Of course I meant cast iron pot. Wonder what a car iron pot would look like?? Grin.

  9. Thanks for that, Rhonda. I tend to make more bread in winter when we have it with soup. That method will come in handy. Have a great day. Hope the writing is going well.

  10. Thanks Rhonda. I love any discussion about bread. I make sourdough bread in a similar way. I was so sick of the timing issues that I now put my dough in the fridge overnight to prove and cook it the next day when I'm ready. I love 'The Thrifty Kitchen' bread recipe too. Its very similar to your method.
    Looking forward to hearing how Maura's one goes.

  11. What is the benefit to using coarse salt rather than table salt? I would need to buy coarse salt especially for this recipe but if it does the job better I am happy to do that.

    1. Use what you have on hand, Jenny. I never use table salt, I think it's over processed with additives.

  12. Love this bread post, Rhonda and will try it out.. Sounds wonderful and looks delicious as well.. The crust is awesome.. Take care, my friend. xo


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