Monday, September 17, 2012

Pain au Levain with Black Sesame Seeds

I had stiff levain in the refrigerator and wanted to use black sesame seeds. I was looking for bread to put it in. As you know my latest book had arrived. I found Pain au Levain.

I like to use white or black sesame seeds in our food. I make my own tahini (ground hulled sesame seeds), put it in muffins and cakes, sprinkle grounded sesame seeds on my rice or add it to roasted vegetables. But, today I want to use black sesame seeds in bread. And whenever I can I will add some sunflower kernels too.

The result is delicious; the crumb is soft, moist and the crust nice crunchy. The loaves disappeared so quickly, we had them for breakfast and our light dinners. Even though the taste of the seeds is noticeably present it goes well with a lot of our favorite spreads like cheese, jam, guacamole, egg, and so on. This one will be back!  

Name                               Pain au Levain with Black Sesame Seeds
Adapted from                   Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread
Yields                               2 loaves
Dough temp.                     24°C
Levain build                      8 - 12 hours
Mixing                              3 - 4 minutes
Autolyse                           20 – 60 minutes
Fermentation                    2.5 hours
Stretch/Fold                      50 and 100 minutes
Shape                               30 minutes
Proof at room temp.           2 -2.5 hours
Prepare steam/bake           1 hour
Bake 230°C                       40 - 45 minutes

This is what I used:
Bakers formula                  %        grams
Flour                                100     906
Water                               65      589
Salt                                  1.8     17

Stiff Levain                      grams
Bread flour                       130
Medium Rye flour               9
Water                              85
Mature Culture 80% hydr.    28

Final Dough
Bread flour                       731
Medium Rye flour               36
Water                              504
Salt                                 17     
Stiff Levain                       223

Seeds roasted
Black Sesame Seeds            100
Sunflower kernels               50

This is what I did:
Stiff Levain:  the evening before (8 - 12 hours) I mixed the ingredients for the levain. I left it in a plastic container with a lid for the night in my kitchen.

Baking day
The final dough: I added all of the ingredients, except salt and the levain, in the mixing bowl of a spiral mixer and mixed until all was well combined. In the mean time we had breakfast. After 60 minutes I added salt and the levain.
I mixed on second speed for 2 minutes. At the end of mixing time I added the sesame seeds and the sunflower kernels until incorporated. The dough should be supple, with a medium gluten development.

Bulk Fermentation:
 transfer the dough to a slightly oiled container, cover and leave for 2 – 2.5 hours. Stretch and fold the dough two times at 50-minute intervals.

Shaping: I divided the dough into two pieces and loosely pre shaped into balls. Covered with a towel and left for 15 minutes to rest. I gently but firmly formed them into batards.
Transferred them to the floured linen couche, covered with a moist towel and a plastic bag.

Proofing: I proofed the loaves for 2 – 2.5 hours. Because of the warm/hot temperature in our house I watch them to prevent over proofing.

Pre heating: I pre heated the oven to 230°C and placed the steam pan with stones on the bottom of the oven.

Preparing and Baking: When the oven is hot enough I boil water and pour it in a glass bottle with a long neck. I pour some boiling water on the hot stones and quickly close the oven door to keep the steam in the oven.
I place the loaves on parchment on a peel. Transfer them to the oven and quickly slide the loaves on the baking stone. After some minutes I add some more water to get more steam.

I baked the loaves 12 minutes with steam and quickly removed the parchment paper and the steam pan. I baked the loaves for another 33 minutes. Bake the loaves until they are nicely brown colored.

Cooling: Let the loaves cool completely on a wire rack.

I send this to Susan’s YeastSpotting and to Bake Your Own Bread

What did you bake this month? 


  1. I love any sort of bread studded with beautiful seeds...and sesame seeds are my favorite lately. The combination of the black and the white is just beautiful!

    1. Hi Heather, we love it too. And it taste so great.