Overnight bread and no-knead breads have been around for a few years, having been made famous in a New York Times article quite awhile ago. But almost every recipe that I have seen that falls into either of those labels use exclusively modern commercial wheat and not the Einkorn flour that I have grown to love and trust in my home.
Which is why I was determined to find, or figure out, a reliable overnight bread recipe that used at least a little Einkorn flour. In my case, “all purpose” Einkorn was fine, I wasn’t looking for a whole wheat bread, but rather an artisan loaf that required very little hands on activity but that still had a lovely browned and crispy crust with a soft and chewy interior using my favorite ancient wheat.
For my first few attempts at overnight bread, or no-knead bread (which is a misnomer in my case since I actually do knead the bread) I didn’t jump straight to 100% Einkorn wheat.
Rather, I started with mostly conventional all purpose flour with the addition of a little Einkorn, with the idea of slowly building up as I got more and more familiar with this bread.
I also wanted a recipe that allowed me to mix all of the ingredients together the day before I wanted to bake the bread so that all of my flour would ferment for as long as possible, within reason. To me, that meant one day, or overnight.
To clarify, I prefer calling this bread overnight as opposed to no-knead, because I do actually knead the bread, using my stand mixer. Many people go with the no-knead method, where you simply stir the ingredients together at night, and then let a long overnight rest do all of your gluten development for you.
I have found this method to be disappointing, as I continuously do a poor job of mixing and end up with large clumps of unmixed ingredients the next morning, which definitely interferes with a quality loaf of bread.
I also have trouble timing my loaf very well with this method and end up baking it earlier than I might have liked because I have trouble telling when the bulk fermentation is done, or overdone.
Instead, I take the four or five minutes it requires to thoroughly combine all of the ingredients using my KitchenAid, and mix all of those ingredients at night, and then let the entire bowl of dough rest and ferment overnight and into the next day.
So overnight bread is more accurate, and guaranteed that you won’t find any dry crusty clumps of unmixed flour and salt trapped inside your bread dough, with the added benefit of bringing all sorts of flavor and complexity to your final bread by allowing it rise and ferment for so long.
The biggest issues I have found focus around two separate areas involved in this process. First, how much Einkorn flour can I get away using before I interfere with producing large bubbles and a beautiful looking interior? And second, just how long should I wait from when I mix the ingredients together to when I should start fiddling with the dough getting it ready to bake?
Of course, the answer to my second question above depends upon my answer to the first question above! Which is to say, everything about bread depends… it depends upon what kind of flour you choose to use, how much water you use, what temperature your house is, etc…
I have settled on using 2/3 conventional bread flour and I swap out final third of the flour with all purpose Einkorn flour. I am normally not a fan of using conventional flour, but I do believe that letting the flour ferment overnight with a very wet dough breaks down a lot of the troublesome proteins that have been introduced into modern wheat over the past 50-75 years.
Which is why it is really important to me that I soak all of my flour overnight and not just a few hours before baking.
The night before I want my bread to be coming out of the oven, I mix all of my ingredients in my stand mixer or by hand. Literally under 10 minutes to get everything out, mixed and cleaned up. Unless you want to let your flour and water rest together for a bit, or autolyse, in which case this step may take an additional 30 minutes or so, still totally doable and not a huge inconvenience most nights.
After mixing all the dough, I place my container into the fridge, to help slow down the rise and fermentation process, and develop some lovely flavor, and then take it back out 10 hours before I want to eat it.
For instance, if I start at 7:00 or 8:00 pm on a Friday after dinner, then I’ll take the wet dough back out at 8:00 am on Saturday. Which conveniently sets up for fresh bread with dinner that evening around 6:00 pm, what a coincidence.
My dough is not very impressive at this point, it still looks puddled in the container, but has definitely spread out since I put the dough in the fridge and there should be all sorts of small bubbles throughout the dough, but probably none of those really large gassy bubbles that I’m really hoping for later in the process!
After pulling the dough from my fridge, I leave it alone on the counter for six hours, to give it time to come to room temperature and to develop those air pockets and bubbles we’re all looking for.
At four hours to eating time, I gently stretch and fold the dough five or six times while it is in the mixing bowl. The dough will be quite wet and soft and I’ll pull from underneath and bring dough up and fold into the middle of the dough over and over until the dough gets tight and doesn’t want to pull out anymore, maybe about 5 or 6 pull-and-folds. Then cover the dough back up and leave out on the counter.
At 3 hours to eating time, I repeat this process. And at 2 hours to eating time, I repeat this process.
90 minutes before eating time, I gently pour out the dough onto a floured countertop basically repeat the pull and fold method to tighten up the skin of the dough just a bit and then I slide my hands under the dough a few times so that it becomes a nice clean and smooth ball of dough just waiting to be baked.
Place that shaped dough into a well floured proofing basked, or a bowl lined with a very well floured dish towel or tea towel with the seam side of the dough facing up.
Preheat your oven to 450 or 500 degrees. My oven runs a little hot, plus I use convection bake, so I preheat to 450 degrees. Remember to put your cast iron dutch oven in the oven while preheating so that it gets super hot!
After another 30-45 minutes or so, when it appears your dough has really grown quite a bit and it is nice and gassy and bubbly, it’s time to bake your bread!
Pull the hot dutch oven out of your oven, carefully, and place next to your dough. Either be super careful not to burn yourself as you place the dough in the dutch oven, or use a sheet of parchment paper to lift and place the dough to be a little safer.
Either way, turn the dough back over, seam side down and place the dough in your really hot pot, score the top of the loaf using scissors for ease or a lame or razor for artistry, place the top back on, and then back into the oven with the whole thing!
Bake for 15 minutes and then take the lid of your pot off, and bake for another 25-30 minutes, give or take, until the bread is as dark and crusty as you had hoped it would be!
Overnight Artisan Bread With Einkorn Flour
- dutch oven
Artisan Bread Dough
- 3 cups all purpose flour I'll use either All Purpose here or Bread Flour, either one will work
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose Einkorn flour
- 2 cups water warm
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp yeast
- Mix all of your ingredients together thoroughly
- place into a container and cover with plastic wrap and place into your fridge overnight
- 10 hours before you want your bread to be done, remove the dough from the refrigerator
- 4 hours before you want your bread to be done, uncover, pull wet dough from bottom up over itself using a wet hand and repeat until dough starts to resist being pulled and tucked
- 3 hours before you want your bread to be done, uncover, pull wet dough from bottom up over itself using a wet hand and repeat until dough starts to resist being pulled and tucked
- 2 hours before you want your bread to be done, uncover, pull wet dough from bottom up over itself using a wet hand and repeat until dough starts to resist being pulled and tucked
- 90 minutes before you want your bread to be done preheat oven to 450 degrees F with Dutch oven and lid inside
- 90 minutes before you want your bread to be done turn dough out onto well floured surface and tuck and fold and gently roll dough into its finished shape and place seam side up in a bowl lined with a well floured cloth
- 45 minutes before you want your bread to be done carefully remove hot Dutch oven from oven, remove lid, and place next close to dough on a suitable surface and very gently and very carefully place bread dough into hot Dutch oven with the seam side down
- using sharp kitchen shears or a bread lame slash or cut one or two lines across the top of the dough, about 1/2 inch thick all the way across, place the lid back on the Dutch oven, and all of it back into the oven
- after 15 minutes, remove the lid from the dutch oven and bake another 25 minutes, give or take, until the bread looks as brown and crusty as you would like it to, but err on the side of a bit too much time in the oven to make sure the interior is cooked all the way through and won't be wet and doughy when you cut into it, should be around 190-195 with a probe thermometer inside
- let rest on a wire rack for at least 15-30 minutes if you can handle waiting
- slather on some butter, and a bit of salt, and enjoy!