Jeffrey’s Golden Durum Sesame Bread

Recipe by Jeffrey Hamelman

Master Baker Jeffrey Hamelman has contributed a lot to King Arthur over the years, both as head of our bakery and one of our baking school’s key instructors. This crusty bread is his creation. With its light-gold interior and wonderful flavor from sesame seeds both inside and out,  it’s the perfect base for a hearty sandwich.

30 mins
35 to 40 mins
13 hrs 25 mins
4 loaves
Jeffrey's Golden Durum Sesame Bread - select to zoom
Jeffrey's Golden Durum Sesame Bread - select to zoom
Jeffrey's Golden Durum Sesame Bread - select to zoom


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  1. To make the liquid levain: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. In a large bowl, mix the flour, water, and starter until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and let the mixture rest at room temperature (65°F to 75°) overnight.

  2. To make the dough: Remove 1/4 cup (57g) from the liquid levain. You can use it to perpetuate a new liquid levain, if desired; otherwise discard it.

  3. Place the remaining liquid levain and the rest of the dough ingredients (including the sesame seeds) into a bowl large enough to hold about twice the volume of the ingredients. Mix everything together with a bowl scraper or spatula.

  4. Using the bowl scraper or spatula, run the scraper or spatula down the inside far wall of the bowl. Bring the dough up from the bottom of the bowl, and fold it over on top of itself; this is called a stretch-and-fold. Turn the bowl 90° and repeat; do this a total of 25 times. The resulting dough will be shaggy.

  5. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rest for about 30 minutes at room temperature. Uncover the bowl and give the dough another 25 stretch-and-folds. Continue resting and doing stretch-and-folds at 30-minute intervals over the next 2 hours (for a total of 3 hours).

  6. To shape the loaves: Divide the dough into four pieces, about 620g each. Shape each piece into a rough ball, cover, and let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes; this rest will make the loaves easier to shape.

  7. When relaxed, shape the balls into round loaves (boules) or ovals (bâtards). If desired, roll the shaped loaves in a dampened cloth, and then into a bed of raw sesame seeds.

  8. Cover the loaves and let them rise (proof) at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  9. Preheat your oven to 500ºF about 1 hour before the loaves are ready to bake. If you have a baking stone, place it on the center rack with a cast iron or other heat-proof pan below it, for steaming. If you’ll bake the loaves in Dutch ovens, there’s no need for the additional steam pan.

  10. To bake the bread: Place the bread in the oven. For extra-crusty crust, add steam to your oven as follows: Once you’ve placed the bread in the oven, pour about 1 cup of boiling water into the heat-proof pan. Steam will billow from the pan upwards to envelop the baking bread; be sure to wear good oven mitts to shield your hands and arms. Quickly close the oven door to trap the steam.

  11. Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes, lowering the oven temperature by 20°F if the loaves seem to be browning too quickly.

  12. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack before slicing.

  13. Store bread, lightly wrapped, for a day or so at room temperature; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Join master baker Jeffrey Hamelman as he demonstrates how to make Jeffrey’s Golden Durum Sesame Bread from start to finish. Watch Episode 10 of the Isolation Baking Show now.

  • Unless you have a very large oven indeed, you won't be able to fit four loaves in Dutch ovens into your oven at the same time. Bake two at a time, leaving the other two in the refrigerator. Or bake one in a Dutch oven, two on a baking sheet, and refrigerate one while it's waiting its turn. However you do it, refrigerate any loaves that have risen but not yet gone into the oven.

  • Want to ready the loaves one day and bake them the next? Cover the shaped (but unrisen) loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap or a reusable cover, and refrigerate overnight. Next day, remove the loaves from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 500°F while the loaves warm up a bit. Bake as directed.

  • To make breadsticks: Roll 40g pieces of dough into sticks about 12” long. Roll each stick in a damp cloth and then into a bed of raw sesame seeds. Let the sticks rise, covered, for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 400°F. Bake the sticks until firm, about 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack.