Black Sesame Seed Sourdough

50% whole grain seeded loaf

Submitted by: Becki Jameson
This is the loaf my family eats and several customers enjoy weekly! To me, the main reason for making sourdough is to be able to have access to the wonderful nutrients in whole grains. This is why I love whole grains and seeds in my bread. Using 50% bread flour ensures that the loaf still rises well. Feel free to tweak the ratio gradually to more than 50% whole grain by substituting more whole wheat flour or a bit of Spelt or Rye for some of the bread flour.


200g bread flour

200g whole wheat flour

1/3 cup mixed seeds

8-10g salt

15g olive oil

9-12g honey

320g water

100g active starter


Into a bowl or food bucket placed on a digital scale, add 200 grams each of bread flour and whole wheat flour. Add 1/3 C. mixed seeds. I use sunflower kernels, chia, flax seed, flax meal, poppy, black and white sesame seeds, fennel, caraway, and anise. Calculate 2% to 2.5%, depending how much salt you like in your bread. Add the salt. I usually add 10g (2.5%). Add just about a tablespoon or 15g olive oil. If you want increased browning, add a bit of honey or agave nectar. I recommend 80% hydration for this dough, but if you go lower, try not to go below 75%. The seeds especially will soak up hydration, but whole wheat flour is also quite “thirsty.” Add your starter, about 25%. I end up using 100g.

Mix everything together with your wetted hands, a bowl scraper or the handle end of a wooden spoon, just until all flour and seeds are incorporated.

Every half hour to hour, stretch and fold the dough. It’s fine to space these S&Fs out to once an hour because seeds can cut the gluten strands, so your dough really needs to recover each time. Be gentle with this dough.

After about 3 1/2 – 4 hours, you’ll feel the difference. The dough will be supple, even with the seeds. After the last S&F, wait at least a half hour before shaping your loaf. Shape it well, creating tension to the top of the loaf.

After shaping your loaf and placing it in a dough basket (banneton), let it stay at room temperature, covered or encased in a plastic bag for an hour. I do recommend a fabric-lined banneton, sprinkled with rice flour or brown rice flour, especially at 80% or higher hydration. After an hour at room temperature, refrigerate it overnight or 8-12+ hours.

Preheat a covered clay baking vessel or Dutch oven at 500F for about an hour.

Tip your loaf over onto parchment, score as you like, then transfer into your baking vessel. Bake covered for 15 minutes at 500. Reduce the heat to 450F. Bake covered another 15 minutes. Remove the cover, and continue baking for about 10 minutes until your loaf acquires your desired crust color. Despite the small bit of olive oil added, its not enough enrichment to be completely cooked through at 190F internal temp. You need it to reach 210F in the center.

If after it acquires your desirable crust color it hasn’t reached the optimal internal temperature, cover the vessel and continue baking, checking every 5 minutes whether it has reached optimal inside temperature.

Let your loaf cool to room temperature or at least 3 hours before slicing with a sharp, long serrated bread knife.

I like to freeze my loaf for extended storage. To make it easier to separate frozen bread slices, I like to place a square of parchment between the slices.

It certainly need not be frozen for 1 or 2 days. After the 2nd day, it is best to freeze it to maintain the freshness. Frozen slices thaw in about 15-20 minutes, covered with plastic so they don’t dry out. Frozen slices toast well, right from the frozen state.






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A special sharp knife, or tool which holds a razor blade, in a curved or straight manner. You use it to score the dough before baking.

Dutch Oven

A Dutch Oven is generally understood to be a covered earthenware or cast-iron container for cooking casseroles. They are ideal for bread as they can accommodate bread dough and be covered to help generate the steamy environment requiredto encourage the dough to rise. Enamel roasters with a lid, covered pyrex dishes, or even a flat tray with a bowl over the top of the dough, are equally effective.

Bakers’ Percentages

Sometimes called baker’s math, this is a method to express the different ingredients as a percentage of the total amount of flour. It makes scaling a recipe or building a recipe very easy once you know the total weight of the flour, and also allows you to know the ‘hydration’ of your dough.

Example: If you build your dough with 1000 gram flour, 670-grams water, 20-gram salt, and 8-gram yeast. According to bakers percentages, that will be 100% flour (the amount of flour is always 100%), 67% water, 2% salt, and 0.8% yeast.
You divide the amount of the different ingredients with the amount of flour.

Banneton / Brotform / Proofing Basket

A type of basket or container used to provide structure for shaped loaves of bread during proofing. Banneton baskets are also known as ‘Brotform’ or ‘proofing baskets’. It is normally used for doughs that are too soft or wet to maintain their shape while rising. They come in a range of sizes and shapes. Look for ones that fit the size of loaves you want to bake.

They are often made of natural rattan, or wood fiber. You can also use any container lined with a well-floured tea towel.

Oven Spring

The final burst of expansion of dough upon being introduced to a hot oven and where the yeast activity is increased during the first few minutes. At approximately 60C/140ºF degrees the yeast is killed off, but up until that point, dough can expand in the oven in the first phase of baking if it’s not over-fermented and still has dough strength. Many factors can impact oven spring including the length of fermentation, gluten development, and the hydration of the dough.


An alternative to traditional kneading used to develop gluten. The process is performed periodically in the bowl throughout the bulk fermentation. Take a side of the dough and gently stretch it up and over, to fold it upon itself, rotate the dough 90º, and repeat, then turn the bowl 45º and the same stretch and fold. Once all four corners of the dough have been stretched and folded, gluten development and a smooth, elastic dough are underway. Also, see ‘Folding’ and ‘Coil Folds’.

Bulk Ferment

Most loaves have two fermenting cycles. One before and one after the loaves are formed. Bulk fermentation is the first cycle, with a long fermentation period of the dough after the initial mixing of flour, water, starter, and salt and often comes during and after a period of kneading or ‘stretch and folds’.During this stage we are aiming to create dough strength, structure and flavor. The dough should feel alive, strong, airy, spongy and the surface shouldn’t feel sticky.

The bulk fermentation generally takes place at room temperature, unless otherwise noted in the recipe and is a longer period of time (4 -12 hours) than the final proofing period. This step may be referred to as the first prove or first rising. Acetic acid, an organic acid is produced by bacteria in the sourdough culture during the fermentation process. The presence of acetic acid helps to gives sourdough its characteristic acidic tang. The warmer the environment, the faster the development of the dough will be

Window Pane

The window pane test is one of the best ways to tell if you’ve sufficiently stretched and folded your bread dough. Pull a small piece of the dough and using both hands and your fingers stretch the dough very thin if it holds its shape without tearing the gluten is well-developed and your dough is ready to be pre-shaped, shaped and rest for it’s final prove.

Starter / Starter Culture / Sourdough Starter

A mixture of flour and water used to leaven bread that contains bacteria, yeast, and organic acids. Made either by inoculating with an established colony of bacteria or by capturing wild bacteria and yeasts over a longer period. Sometimes also called Leaven / Levain.



Autolyse (pronounced auto-lees) is a process in which a portion of (or total) water and flour in a bread recipe are gently pre-blended and set to rest for a period of time.

This resting period gives the dough special processing characteristics and improves the overall quality of the baked goods.

During autolyse process, several events can occur in the pre-mixed water/flour mixture:

  1. Continued flour hydration. Water molecules work their way into damaged starch, intact starch granules and proteins.
  2. Protein bonds continue to develop as a consequence of adding water, creating more gluten strands without mechanical work. This leads to better gluten structure and gas retention.
  3. Flour enzymes (mainly proteases) acquire time to adapt and work on the gluten by breaking down protein bonds.Protease activity is higher at low pH (acidic conditions). This is why autolysed doughs that contain yeast or pre-ferments (e.g. poolish) often experience greater protease activity. Such doughs are more extensible, weaker, softer and show less resistance to deformation than autolyzed non-fermented doughs.2
  4. Finally, as a result, the dough feels less sticky and very smooth after the autolyse.

As a general rule, the longer the autolyse time:

  • The shorter the dough mixing time (less mechanical development of gluten-forming proteins in needed). This means less energy consumption during mixing.
  • The shorter the dough stability duration
  • The less tolerance to overmixing. Breakdown is more pronounced once peak (maximum strength) is attained.
  • The smaller the P value in the alveograph test
  • The more extensible and less elastic the dough becomes at the end of autolysis
  • The better the sheetability and machining of dough during lamination of croissants
  • The easier and faster the dough expands during oven spring (better volume)
  • The lower the need for dough conditioners
  • The better the flavor and aroma of the finished product
Leaven/Levain/Sourdough Starter
  1. A substance, in this case a wild yeast starter, that is used in sourdough baking to make dough rise.
  2. Some methods of baking, such as ‘Tartine Method’ require a sourdough leavening agent be made from a sourdough ‘mother culture’ (aka your Starter). This technique is often employed to boost the yeast activity of the sourdough starter by feeding a small amount of starter a larger quantity of flour and water. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of sourdough starter, a leaven can be prepared 8-12 hours before the dough will be mixed by combining 1 Tablespoon of sourdough starter with ½ cup flour and a scant ½ cup of water. This leaven can then be used as the sourdough starter and will be quite active come baking time.
  1. cause (dough or bread) to rise by adding leaven.