Recipe: Whole Wheat Sesame Sourdough

Whole Wheat Sesame Sourdough

Words by: Hilary McCandless-Beard

Yield: 1 large loaf

Time: 18 hours for sourdough starter, 5 ½ hours (after establishing starter) to bake

King Arthur Flour whole wheat and bread flours were used in testing, along with coarse grey sea salt. For starter, use an equal mixture of whole wheat and bread flours and enough cool water to make a very soft dough. Leave in a non-metal container, lid vented or loosely covered with cloth or plastic to ripen. Discard most and refresh with new flour and water each 24 hours until bubbly, then again 18 hours before you plan to bake.


1 cup sourdough starter, fed and fermented appx 18 hrs

1 ¾ cup lukewarm water

1 ¼ cup bread flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 ¾ teaspoon coarse salt

2 cups sesame seeds (you will have a lot left over)


  1. Combine all but sesame seeds in the bowl of electric mixer with the dough hook attachment; mix low speed until a rough dough forms, then medium speed for 3 minutes, adding more flour only if very wet.
  2. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover and ferment for 2 hours, folding each half hour to develop gluten and even the dough temperature.
  3. After 2 hours, turn dough onto lightly floured countertop and fold edges toward center to make a loose ball. Place folded side down and rest 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare a bowl lined with a well-floured dry kitchen towel or a floured proofing basket. Place the sesame seeds on a sheet pan. After 20 minutes, fold the dough ball gently in on itself again to tighten the shape, being careful not to crush all the air pockets which will have formed inside. Keep the smooth side well floured, but the seam side must not be too floury to stick together where folded.
  5. Wet hands and gently rub the loaf down to moisten on all sides, holding it off the counter to do so. Place moistened loaf onto the tray of sesame seeds, remembering where the seam is, and coat all over with seeds. Then place, seam side up, in the proofing basket or bowl. Cover and let rise 1–2 hours. When risen, the dough will have nearly doubled in size and an indentation left by your fingertip will be slow to disappear.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat oven at 500°F, with plenty of time for it to get hot. Put a dutch oven with lid or another large oven-proof lidded pot inside while oven is heating up.
  7. When the loaf is risen, turn it out into the pre-heated pot, score the top if you like, and cover before returning to the oven. Bake 30 minutes with the lid closed, then remove lid. After 10 minutes with the lid off, the loaf should be firm enough to remove from the pot and finish baking on the oven rack in order to form a well-browned bottom crust. Bake until crust is dark and bread is hollow sounding when drummed on the bottom, about 1 hour total.