No-Knead Bread: Overnight Bread

Overnight Loaf


A few weeks ago, I wandered across a video featuring the French chef Jacques Pépin preparing a three-course meal. Amongst the recipes was this no-knead bread, mixed/proved and baked in just one pot. Now I love a gimmicky shortcut as much as anyone, so I was keen to give this a try.

A key detail of Jacques’ method, is that he uses a non-stick saucepan. I don’t have a non-stick saucepan, so I thought I’d improvise with my cast-iron casserole. It was not a success. Smooth and unblemished as the inside of my glazed casserole might be, non-stick it is not. The dough stuck like a very sticky thing. I had to cut the – admittedly quite airy – loaf out, then soak the casserole for several hours until I was able to chisel off the rest of the crust.

Tempting as it was to dismiss the whole thing as a gimmick, I still yearned for something that appeared so simple and fuss-free. I love the no-knead bread revolution begun by Jim Lahey, but it requires such odd AND long timings. If I want some Jim Lahey no-knead bread for lunch, I have to start the previous day at about 3.30pm, and then find somewhere for this bowl of fermenting goo to sit, undisturbed, for the optimum rising time of 18 hours. I never seem to remember this in time – I remember at suppertime, or bedtime or any time that’s not the right time, whereas Jacques’ seemed so simple: Mix at night, bake in the morning. Another aspect of Jacques’ method that appealed was the pan that went from fridge to oven. Jim Lahey’s method involved heating your oven AND casserole to its roaring maximum, and then transferring the resting but incredibly lithe dough into this almost unbelievably hot pot and getting it back into the oven without losing any heat. I’ve lost count of the number of burns sustained at this point of the recipe – but Jacques didn’t even use an oven glove!

So I persevered with trying to make Jacques’ method work with what I had to hand and this is the result. It is an adaptation of the best bits of Jim Lahey’s and Jacques Pépin’s methods, and just to add some original content, I decided to test it on a range of flours. I was also stuck for a name, and some followers on Twitter were kind enough to answer my call for suggestions:

  • Sleeping One Pot Bread (Ben)
  • Pain Nocturne, Pain Dodo, Ubernachtsbrot (Dr Dan)
  • Slumber Loaf (Joe)
  • Pajama Pain, Duvet Dough (Adam)
  • Chillax Dough Bake (Mojo)
  • All-in-1 no-knead overnight bread, Effortless come to bed bread (Jan)
  • Dozey Dough (Tipsy)

which just goes to show how much more creative everyone is than me. 😀

Ultimately, I had to abandon the ‘all in one pot’ aspect, due to the aforementioned lack of non-stick saucepan, but if you have some, then go for it!

When I tried this method with different flours, I was pleasantly surprised at the results, mostly because it was the stoneground wholemeal flour that produced the loaf that rose the best – see below for side-by-side results.

Overnight Bread

Clockwise from back left: stoneground wholemeal bread flour, brown bread flour, white bread flour, gluten-free flour

Obviously, the gluten-free loaf requires more work, so we will draw a discreet veil over that particular bake. On the plus side, I have a new door-stop! That aside, the textures inside the other three were impressive – see below.

Loaf crumb for different flour

Top to bottom: stone-ground wholemeal bread flour, brown bread flour, white bread flour

Overnight Bread

Rather than write three versions of this recipe, just follow the measurements for the type of flour you are using.

600g white bread flour/ brown bread flour/stoneground wholemeal bread flour
1 sachet easy-blend yeast
2tsp salt
700ml/800ml/900ml warm water

  • An hour before you go to bed, put the ingredients into a bowl and stir to combine. It will make a very sticky dough bordering on a batter.
  • Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for 1 hour.
  • Grease a heavy casserole with a close-fitting lid.
  • When the hour is up, stir the batter/dough vigorously with a wooden spoon to knock out the air, then pour the dough into the greased casserole. If you’re very tired, you can do this after only 40 minutes.
  • Cover with the lid and put in the fridge overnight. I have, when short of space in the fridge, put the casserole outside on cold nights, with no ill effect. The heavy lid prevents anything untoward happening to it.
  • Next morning, after 10 hours, remove the casserole from the fridge (or bring it in from outside). Leave the lid on.
  • Preheat the oven to its highest setting, about 220°C, 200°C Fan
  • When it’s hot enough, put the covered casserole into the oven for 45 minutes. The lid will contain the steam, increase the heat inside the casserole and make the bread rise into a dome – Jacques’ loaf was baked lidless and consequently comes out rather flat.
  • After 45 minutes, remove the lid of the casserole and allow the top of the loaf to brown for 5-10 minutes. No need for a baking sheet, the hot bars of the oven shelf are fine.
  • Tip the loaf out of the casserole and return to the oven for a final 5 minutes to crisp the crust, if it seems to require it.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

5 Comments on “No-Knead Bread: Overnight Bread”

  1. vannillarock says:

    You got my attention at the gluten free doorstep LOL! I have recently been totally converted to the overnight prove (James Morton, also a GBBO runner up is a huge fan of this) but I leave it in a silicone ‘thingy’ which I bought from Lakeland and I bake it in that too. it is simple and brilliant.

  2. Keith. says:

    Hi MAB,
    A clear glass Pyrex Casserole dish could work wonders for this too I reckon. I bake all my bread in one and they always come out fully risen which ever type I do. It’s all to do with the steam (as you say) being retained in the dish with it’s lid on and the very best method I have found to mimic a commercial steam oven along with the fact that you can see what’s happening inside. All yeast type doughs can benefit being baked this way I find.

    • MAB says:

      Wotchers Keith!
      Thanks for the reminder. I did try with pyrex way back when I made the original Jim Lahey post, on account of losing all my cast iron in a shelf collapse. Luckily, since then, I’ve managed to acquire some replacements.
      Will you be trying this tonight? M-A 😀

  3. Loving the crumb of all the breads. Doing this tonight with white flour, fingers crossed!

  4. Keith says:

    Hi MAB,

    I will be trying this next week and will report back on how I get on. Did ‘Hot Cross Buns’ in the Pyrex last week and they were the best I’ve ever done so I’m really looking forward to trying this overnight bread recipe in it.


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