Charlie’s Favorite Sesame Bread

sesame-bread

This bread is a crusty French-style loaf with a bit of milk and butter added for flavor. Because it is made with a sponge, it keeps well for a couple of days at room temperature.

This is my son’s absolute favorite bread. He even eats the crust! I love making this bread because he loves to eat it. Plus it is a great dough to work with.  Because I am so familiar with the recipe, I am easily carried into the “Baking Zone” where I so often find contentment.

Ingredients

Sponge

1 cup warm water
1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm milk
1 3/4 cups unbleached bread flour
¼ cup whole wheat or kamut flour

Dough

1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3½ to 4 cups unbleached bread flour

For the Top

Egg glaze: 1 egg + 1 tablespoon milk
3 tablespoons sesame seeds

Directions

Sponge:
Combine sponge ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and beat vigorously for 1 minute. Cover and allow the sponge to rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk (about 1 hour)

Dough:
Add salt, butter and 1 cup of the flour to the sponge. Beat for 1 minute. Add the remaining flour (½ cup at a time) until a soft dough forms.   I almost never use the full amount of flour as I prefer to work with a very soft dough.

Knead:
By hand for about 5-7 minutes on a lightly floured surface.  OR
By machine for about 5-7 minutes using the dough hook.

Rise:
Place the dough in a greased bowl or deep pot. Cover and allow it to rise at room temperature until doubled or tripled in bulk (1-2 hours).

Shape the Loaves:
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into three equal portions. Shape each portion into a fat oval. Pinch the ends to form a taper. Place the loaves on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet.

Optional: Lightly dust clean tea towels with flour, roll them tightly and place them between the loaves to form a baker’s couche. This encourage them to rise upwards instead of outwards and hold their shape.

Homespun Baker’s Couche

Cover the loaves gently with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Prepare the Oven:
About one hour before baking, preheat the oven to 425°. If you would like to use a baking stone or pizza stone, place it on the lowest rack of the oven. Place a heavy pan on the oven floor.

Prepare the Loaves:
Use a serrated knife to decoratively slash the tops of the loaves with three parallel gashes — about 1/4 of an inch deep. Mix the milk and egg. Lightly brush the top of each loaf with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake:
Place the baking sheet on a rack in the center of the oven or on the baking stone. Toss ½ cup of ice cubes into the pan on the oven floor and quickly shut the door. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown. They should make a hollow sound when tapped with your fingers. Transfer the loaves to a rack for cooling.

Eat with glee! (and lots of butter…)

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