The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Overnight Country Blonde Ken Forkish

Paul T's picture
Paul T

Overnight Country Blonde Ken Forkish


Hello everyone, 

So I’ve been successful in all the Ken Forkish recipes that I have attempted until this one. 

So my dough after final mix and folds is about about 1.5 liters in volume using the Cambro 12 quart.  It then rises overnight ( 10 hours this time ) to slightly under 5 liters - nearly tripled in size.  The dough is doming and producing huge bubbles. I used the dough at 10 hours. Shaped it - balls not as tight as they should be. Proofed  it - watched carefully - lots of poke tests - none seemed over proofed. Poke tests revealed that it was ready to bake. First loaf was an improvement over previous attempts at this challenging recipe but rise could have been much better. Second loaf on the right in picture was a disaster. As soon as I put it in the Dutch oven it collapsed. I must say - the flavors of the bread are incredible despite their sorry appearance.  Looking for suggestions. Feel like I’m very close to getting this. I like to give a way a loaf to a different neighbor each time I bake so disappointing that I can’t share. I just won’t give away these sad things. 😕



On the other hand - I’ve had great luck with the Tartine County Bread Recipe. 



Benito's picture

What is the temperature of your overnight bulk fermentation?  From what I understand Forkish has pretty cool overnight temperatures therefore he doesn’t over proof overnight. If this is a sourdough formula you baked you won’t want to have much more than a 50% rise. 
your finished loaves do look overproofed to me. They are flattish and don’t hold their shape well. I cannot see the crumb very well on my phone but based on your description it has overproofed. You’ll need to proof at a lower temperature if doing it overnight or shorten the bulk time. Other options would also be to decrease the amount of levain but you’ll have to compensate for the reduction of water and flour contributes by the levain lost. 

Steve E's picture
Steve E

I just had a similar experience this morning. After making almost all of Forkish's recipes in FWSY and loving their very reliable outcomes, I was surprised that last night's first try with Overnight Country Blonde went so badly. In fact, my disaster was even worse than yours: the fermented dough, although impressively risen this morning, was the consistency of pancake batter. No amount of folding or coaxing changed the inescapable fact that my dough was horribly over-fermented. I scraped it into the trash.

Wondering what went wrong, I went back and scoured the recipe for something I had missed. Forkish is always very precise. If he means for you to ferment or proof in the refrigerator, he writes this in the recipe. But he doesn't say "ferment in the fridge" for OCB and so I went ahead and, with slight misgivings that I managed to suppress, fermented the dough for 12 hours at room temperature. It's very warm here in Virginia but the air conditioning was on during the night and so it was 75 F in the kitchen. This is slightly outside Forkish's definition of room temperature, but apparently enough outside to make a difference. Next time I'll try fermenting at least partly in the fridge. Would love to hear your own plans.

By the way, there's an excellent discussion of this recipe and the issue of over-fermenting by dmsnyder right here on TFL, 

Paul T's picture
Paul T

Hi Steve, 

Because my ferment the morning was like 4 times the size I’m going to try fermenting during the day and watching it carefully. I have a super vigorous starter that may be the issue. Also - I’m going to try one initial shape but then another for the final shaping if necessary.  I’ve had great success with the Regular Chef ( check youtube ) recipe but that is way more controlled using a homemade proofing box ( also in regular chef videos ). 

idaveindy's picture

Many places in FWSY, pages 28 & 65 and more, he says his daytime room temp is 70 F.

On page 66 he says his overnight house temp is 65 F / 18 C.

So that's why an overnight "room temp" bulk ferment or proof throws people off.


It's an example of why we need to read most cookbooks from the beginning, and not just jump straight to a formula.

Paul T's picture
Paul T

Yeah - my house temp is like 70 at night. So going to try bulk ferment during the day.