The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Adapting a recipe for overnight proof

Hanzosbm's picture

Adapting a recipe for overnight proof

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I will once again be baking the rolls for the family.  This year I think I'll try to mix it up a bit and instead of doing a lot of white bread rolls, I'll do a variety of white, wheat, and whole grain.  With so much going on and "dinner" being relatively early, I'm worried about trying to wake up, mix, knead, and allow for repeated proofings and then bake all these rolls while also trying to get to my mother's house early enough to help her with various odds and ends.  

I've been wanting to try overnight proofing in the refrigerator for awhile now and realize that this is the answer to my problems, but I've never done it before.  In addition, I'm hesitant to try a new recipe for the occasion.  I'm wondering if I can simply use my current recipe and adapt it to use an overnight proofing.  Do I need to do anything different?  Do I have to shape the rolls prior to this overnight proofing?  (I'm hoping not because they'll take up a lot of room).  

In short, can you offer some suggestions?

ElPanadero's picture

on the recipe. Any recipe can be adjusted. Making bread is simply a balancing act of the different factors involved which in the main are the time needed for fermentation (proofing), the taste (mild to sour) and crumb texture.

By tweaking the ingredients and their quantities or the processes you can affect these factors.

For example, to stretch the proofing time out you can either reduce the temperature (i.e. put in the fridge) or you could reduce the amount of leavening agent (yeast / starter). To adjust the sourness in taste you can fiddle with the starter or preferments, ferment the loaf for longer, lower the temperature and so on.

To answer your question more fully I think you would need to post up the recipe you are using.


Hanzosbm's picture

Hi ElPanadero,


Absolutely, here is one of the recipes I know I will use.  The others I'm not sure about yet.



Approximately 500g unbleached bread flour (all purpose will do)

325g water (100-110F)

10g salt

1 Tbsp instant yeast

5g sugar

10g butter (melted, but not hot)



Mix water, sugar and yeast in a bowl and let stand for 10 minutes.

Add salt and butter. 

Begin adding flour a bit at a time until desired dough consistency is reached. 

Turn dough out on floured board and knead for 6-10 minutes.

Form into ball and put into an oiled bowl, flipping once.  Cover bowl with a wet towel and place in warm, non drafty area and allow to rise for 1 hr.

Knock down dough, turn it out and knead several times, return to bowl, recover and allow to rise for 1 hr.

Preheat oven to 425 with an empty baking sheet on the bottom rack.  (this can be damaged, so best to use an old baking sheet)

Turn out dough and knock it down.  Cut dough into small pieces, about ½ - ¾ desired size and begin to stretch the ball and tuck the edges underneath creating a round or oval ball with a taunt surface.  Place onto a floured or non stick baking sheet.  Cover and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Slash tops of rolls, put into oven while pouring water onto empty baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove and move to a drying rack.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

That is an awful lot of yeast for so little flour. I'd start by using 3/4 teaspoon of yeast, mixing with room temperature water and letting it sit in the fridge overnight.  Do that tonight and see if you get the development you like by the time you would want to cook on Thanksgiving day. If it works, do it again tomorrow for Thursday. :)

ElPanadero's picture

If my conversions are correct I think 1tbsp = 3 tsp and if 1 tsp yeast is 3.1g then you're using 9.3g yeast. The fresh yeast equivalent is twice that at 18.6g. As David says, that's a huge amount. I use just 4-5g of fresh yeast (about 2g active yeast) for a 500g loaf but that is for a "lean" loaf, i.e just flour, salt, yeast and water, no fats or sugars. BTW, given you state all the other ingredients in grams I recommend you measure your yeast in grams too.

Now, I receommend you 2 things and do so tonight if possible as a test, using a small amount of dough, see if either work and if they do, see which you prefer:

1) Firstly, try David's suggestion above. Drop the yeast to 2-3g and put the dough in the fridge overnight.

2) Secondly, my preferred way, drop the yeast to a mere 1g, mix the dough and leave it in a covered tub/bowl at ROOM TEMP overnight. In the morning the dough will be lovely and full of gluten strings. Knock it back, divide and shape it immediately, allow to proof for 20-40mins depending on room temp (use finger poke test) and then bake.

Using either method will add a lot more flavour to your bread because of the longer fermentation time.


Hanzosbm's picture

Thank you both so much!  I will definitely give these both a try tonight.  I'm off work early tomorrow so I can come home, pull the dough from the fridge, shape, proof, and bake and still have enough time to do another round tomorrow night to be ready for Thursday.


Since we're on the topic, I was planning to also do some whole wheat rolls using a whole wheat recipe I found here and have adapted slightly.  The yeast measurement was a little tricky since the original recipe called for packets, which I don't have.  Would you mind taking a look at it (and the variation I've suggested for rolls) and give your thoughts on the same overnight methods?


1 teaspoon yeast or half packet

1/8 cup lukewarm  water

1 - 1/4 cup hot water

¼ cup brown sugar

1 – ½ teaspoon salt

1/8 cup butter

1 – ½ cup whole wheat flour

2 – ½ cup all purpose or bread flour


Combine lukewarm water and yeast, stir together and set aside.

Combine hot water, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a separate bowl.  Then add whole wheat flour and ½ cup of all purpose/bread flour.  Mix well.

Add softened yeast to this mixture.   Add AP/bread flour until a somewhat stiff dough is formed.  Knead for 10-12 minutes.

Shape into ball and place into buttered bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover and let rise for 1-1/2 hours. 

Punch down, form into ball, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Shape into loaf and place into greased 8x5 bread pans (or shape into rolls).  Let rise for 1-1/4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F

Slash top

Bake loaf for 45 minutes or rolls for 20 minutes in steamed oven.



ElPanadero's picture

A sachet of active yeast is typically 7g. 1 tsp of active yeast is 3.1g.

In terms of the 2 experiments I recommended note that if you are going to be out all morning then option 2 won't be suitable as the dough will likely have overproofed by the time you get home. What you can do, is mix up the dough in the morning before you go out (with the 1g yeast) and leave it to proof throughout the day (about 10 hrs) and bake it in the evening.

Hanzosbm's picture

Okay, good to know, thank you.

richkaimd's picture

It's early Thanksgiving morning and I'm waiting for my rolls to come out of the oven (Bernard Clayton's Oaten Cakes, actually; good for breakfast in my mind, and not for the T-day table, but whatever).  Your note brought to mind two things:  first, there's a recipe for baguettes in Maggie Glezer's collection Artisan Baking which calls makes three baguettes with about an 1/8 tsp of yeast; second, when I used to make challahs to be served after services at my Temple on Saturday morning, I'd regularly put unrisen but formed loaves into my fridge overnight covered with lightly greased plastic wrap then take them out to rise and bake the next morning.  My challah recipe uses probably eight times the yeast the Glezer's recipe uses.  So, what this teaches me is that the cold of my refrigerator slowed down the gas formation from the yeast in the challah enough to let me sleep overnight without fear of the formed loaves over-rising.

I hope that you're happy with whatever you did.  I believe that the rising of any dough can be slowed down in refrigerator temperatures, whether during the bulk rise or after the loaves are formed.    You need only cover it to prevent water loss from the surface.  Actually, I've got Pain a l'ancienne dough (see The Bread Baker's Apprentice recipe) bulk rising for the past 24 hours in my fridge.  We're using it for our non-traditional pizza Thanksgiving this year.  It sours beautifully during this stage.

Happy Thanksgiving!