Something majestic

There is something wonderfully lonely about being awake at 3:00 in the morning. Greeting the glum blackness at a time too early for regular humans to be spotted is a special ritual that not everyone can quite grasp.

Sometimes I feel like the only person alive.

Especially while shattering the encapsulating silence with a windy sip of hot thyme tea, an angry red nose screaming its disapproval of a damp hanky, and a scratchy throat seeking relief in pitiful coughs.

It’s time to slap together a billowing mass of flour, water, salt, and yeast into something majestic.


adapted from Tartine Book No.3 by Chad Robertson

WATER | 85% | 850 g
LEAVEN | 15% | 150 g
REDMOND REAL SALT | 2.5% | 25 g
UNHULLED SESAME SEEDS, toasted | 14% | 250 g
+ RAW SESAME SEEDS for coating

Active rye sourdough starter | 25 g
Fresh-milled whole wheat flour – 200 g
Water – 200 g

Mix, cover, and let rest 4-8 hours depending on ambient temperature (more time during colder months). The leaven is ready when a dollop floats in a bowl of water.

Leaven (above) – 150 g
Fresh-milled whole wheat flour – 1000 g
Water – 800 g

Mix with one hand until no dry bits remain. Cover and allow to hydrate for 60 minutes.

Redmond Real salt – 25 g
Water – 50 g

Add these and squish with hands until fully agglomerated. Let rest 30 minutes.

Bulk rise
Sesame seeds – 250 g

Fold & turn (1) the dough by wetting one hand, grabbing the underside, stretching and folding the dough back onto itself. Rotate the bowl and do this 2-3 times more. Rest 30 minutes.

Fold & turn (2) the dough again. Rest 30 minutes.

Gently incorporate the sesame seeds into the dough (3). Rest 30 minutes more.

Fold & turn (4) the dough again. Rest 30 minutes.

Fold & turn (5) the dough again. Rest 30 minutes.

Fold & turn (6) the dough again. Rest 30 minutes.

Gently coax the dough onto a lightly floured counter-top. The dough has been working hard until now – allow it to rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, line 2 medium-sized bowls with clean tea towels and generously dust with a 50/50 mixture of brown rice & whole wheat flour.

After the rest, divide the dough in two and use a dough spatula to purposefully flip the dough over so that the smooth side is down. It should be fairly round. Pull each side slightly and fold towards the center like a package, working first with the bottom, then sides, & finally top. Working as if the dough spatula were replacing one hand, pull and roll the dough until the bottom seam is sealed and you have a nice round shape.

Raw sesame seeds

Slap some water over the surface of the round and roll in raw sesame seeds. Plop seed-side down into the floured, towel-lined bowls. Cover with the long flap of the towel and place into the refrigerator for 24 hours.


Preheat a cast iron dutch oven (with lid on) @ 500 degrees in the bottom third of the oven. Delicately, dip the bowl of one dough round into the piping hot dutch oven. It should fall in almost like you meant for it to. Score in any fashion you’d like, cover, and place into the oven. Cook 20 minutes. When the timer beeps, reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees, and set the timer again for 10 minutes. Now, brave the scorching oven and remove the lid. Bake again 20-25 minutes until deeply brown.

Here is a nice cheat sheet for the bake:

     Lid ON – 500 degrees, 20 minutes
                     450 degrees, 10 minutes
Lid OFF – 450 degrees, 20 minutes

Lastly, let cool on a wire rack before slicing into. Heat the oven back to 500 degrees and bake the second loaf just as the first.

Yield 2 loaves.




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