Sesame Semolina, the Tartine Way

Whether you’re a regular reader of this blog (do I have those yet?  It’s not abundantly clear) or are finding your way here for the first time, it doesn’t take much poking around the site to discover I have become a devout follower of Chad Robertson and the way he bakes bread.  I tinkered with the recipe for Tartine Country Bread for several months before moving on to the whole wheat variety and also experimenting with parmesan pepper and sesame semolina.


While it can be a challenge to learn how to handle such a high hydration dough, the end result is exceptionally rewarding.  Sitting here writing about it is making me hungry: the caramelized & crisp crust, the open, moist and abundantly flavorful crumb.  Tartine Bread offers many of Robertson’s more basic recipes and variations upon them.  As I started to move away from white and wheat flour I went to something that was somewhat familiar, semolina.


In my (limited) experience making this sesame semolina I’ve found it to be a bit more dense with a less open crumb than the basic tartine loaf (see picture below for evidence).  It is, however, just as deliciously moist and tasty as anything else I’ve made from Tartine.


I’ve also been tinkering with a new timetable for the dough.  Typically I have made these breads on the weekend, using a schedule where I refresh my starter on Friday or Saturday night and make, ferment, and bake the dough the following day.  To allow for bread baking during the week that fits around my work schedule I’ve started to feed my starter in the mornings before leaving for work.  When I come home around 5 I mix, ferment, and shape the dough.  I then refrigerate the dough overnight for its final rise, baking the following morning.


As you can see from the above picture, getting up at 7 allows for a loaf to be baked and cooled by 10 AM (I have the good fortune of not having work until 11 AM for a few weeks).  I can think of few better ways to start the day than with fresh bread, especially one that looks (and is) this tasty!


Sesame Semolina (Makes 1 loaf)


  • 100 g leaven (fed sourdough starter)
  • 400 g warm water
  • 350 g semolina flour
  • 150 g AP flour
  • 30 g sesame seeds, toasted and ground
  • 10 g salt
  • 100 g sesame seeds (for coating)


The night before you plan to make the dough, refresh your sourdough starter.  Discard all but a few tablespoons, and add in 200 grams water, 100 grams AP flour, and 100 grams whole wheat flour.  Cover loosely and let sit overnight.  The next morning, you know the starter is ready when it floats in water.

Disperse the starter in 350 grams of water.  Add all the flour and mix by hand until you do not see any dry bits of flour.  Cover the dough and let rest for 30 minutes.

After the rest, add the salt and remaining 50 grams of water.  Once everything is incorporated, cover the dough again.  For the next 2 hours, ‘turn’ the dough every 30 minutes by grabbing the underside of the dough and stretching it over the rest of the dough.  At the end of the first turn add in the ground sesame seeds.  After 2 hours, turn the dough just once every hour.

Once the first rise is complete, turn the dough out onto an unfloured surface. Flour the top of the dough, then flip it over so that the floured side is down.  Work the piece into a round shape, and let rest of the counter for 30 minutes.

After the rest once again flour the top of the dough and flip it over.  Fold the third of the dough closest to you inward, and then stretch the dough out to the sides.  Fold the right, and then left, sides in toward the center.  Fold the top of the dough inward, and then wrap the bottom part of the dough over it all.  Work this into a round shape.  Roll the top of the loaf in the remaining sesame seeds and place seam side up (sesame seeds down) in a proofing basket. (See here for a more visual description)

Let rise for 3-4 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator).  Before baking place a dutch oven, with the lid on, in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.  Once hot, drop the dough into the pan and score the loaves.  Immediately place the top back on and return to the oven.  Turn the heat down to 450 degrees and cook for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the top of the dutch oven and rotate the pan.  Continue to bake the bread for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is deeply caramelized.  Enjoy!

Recipe from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson

3 thoughts on “Sesame Semolina, the Tartine Way

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