Sourdough Semola & Sesame Seeds Bread


There are some really hot summer days in Rio de Janeiro where all you want to do is lay down, leave your window slightly open and embrace the enchanting energies of this city flowing in your room. I eventually land in that state of nostalgic melancholy that people here call “saudade”.

I have been looking for the exact meaning of the brazilian word “saudade” without finding the right word to describe it.  Saudade, for me, is this perfect state of mind when you let your thoughts stream slowly, free from boundaries, ending up with a striking feeling of missing “it”…that person, in that exact place, in that very moment. It is pining for something that will never happen in that same exact way, ever again.


How to cure saudade? Well, you definitely can’t, but never underestimate the therapeutic effect of kneading dough on a lazy sunday afternoon, with your husband on the other side of the living room playing bossa nova on his guitar…

Quiet thoughts and quiet dreams
Quiet walks by quiet streams
And a window looking on the mountains
And the sea, so lovely…… (from Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars/Tom Jombim)

In this post I am going to present my recipe for this sourdough bread, also called Levain.

Levain is a type of bread made with sourdough starter. Working with sourdough could be a rather daunting thought as it requires a longer natural leavening. With some practice, and a proper schedule, I have finally come to the conclusion that it is definitely not that unfathomable as I initially thought.


I like to make a big loaf of Levain bread over the weekend, which I divide in two chunks, one part to be eaten over the next few days, and the other to be frozen for the rest of the week. It works perfectly as Levain bread has a longer shelf life of up to three days, I literally never go short of bread.

Also, it has a greater digestibility, thanks to many bacteria and probiotic s(lactobacillus and streptococcus) of the sourdough, which has a balancing effect on the bacterial flora.

If don’t have sourdough and you wish to make it at home, you might want to look at my related post Baking Bread: Sourdough vs Yeast with all the step-by-step instructions on how to make it and how to feed it.


Rustic Wholemeal Levain Bread

  • Servings: 1 kg
  • Difficulty: middle
  • Print


It is ALL about timing indeed. I prefer proofing the dough overnight in the fridge, it does lower the leavening allowing to bake the bread in the following day.

Here below is my bread schedule:

  • DAY 1:
    • In the morning, feed the sourdough and leave it in the fridge;
    • At night, prepare the dough using sourdough, as explained in the recipe below;
    • Overnight, leave the dough in the fridge to slowly proof.
  • DAY 2:
    • The next morning, take out the dough from the fridge, it should have doubled in size. If the dough hasn’t raised enough, leave it in a draft-free spot until it doubles.
    • Bake the bread, preferably with an oven safe pot.


  • 500 gr of Semolina Flour
  • 360 ml for warm water
  • 150 gr of fed sourdough
  • 5 gr of coconut sugar (optional)
  • 10 gr of salt
  • a handful of sesame seeds




  • In a large bowl, put the flour. Gently add water and let it rest for about 20 minutes, let the autolysis begin, as explain in my post Baking Bread with Wholemeal Flours
  • In a side bowl, pour the sourdough and add the coconut sugar. Stir together.
  • After 20 minutes, add-in the sourdough into the batter and knead gently.
  • Lastly, combine salt and the sesame seeds and keep on kneading in the bowl.
  • Transfer the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Set in a draft-free warm spot for about 4 hours or, as suggested, let it rest overnight in the fridge. Resting the dough in the fridge slows the proofing. I usually put the bowl into a plastic bag to create a sort of chamber for the dough.
  • After the fist half an hour of proofing, you should roll the dough into a rectangle and fold it, as shown in related my post Baking Bread with Wholemeal Flours.



  • Heat your oven to 220°C and line a 2 baking tray: one for the bread and the second for the steam. The secret to ensure a perfect crust is to pour a glass of water in the second baking tray placed it on the lower grid of your oven.You will place your bread on the higher tray. The water steam ensures bread cooks slowly, resulting on a firm crust and moist center.
  • Gently place the dough in the prepared baking tray and bake for 45 minutes, or until the golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.


  • Turn an oven safe pan upside down, take a large piece of parchment and fold it in half. Once folded, continue to fold it into quarters, then eighths. Put the point of the parchment in the middle of the cake pan and cut it just inside the outer edge of the pan (this yields the perfect size parchment for your pot otherwise cut accordingly).
  • Preheat the oven to 220°C and place the oven-safe lidded pot to heat for 30 minutes.
  • Carefully take out the pot from the oven, fit the circled parchment to its base, dust with semolina and gently place the dough on it.
  • Place the lid on the pot and carefully place it in the oven to bake for 45 minutes, or until the golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base.
  • Gently remove the bread from the pot and cool it on a wire rack.



Happy baking!


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