amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Sesame no-knead bread

POSTED ON March 10, 2010

sesame no-knead bread

There was suddenly a lot of talk about baking bread around here and during the last couple of snowstorms we finally brought our talk to fruition. I should mention our impulse to get a loaf in the works was spurred by my sister’s arrival back from Australia with a few precious gifts: a jar of my father’s famous chutney (made with his homegrown tomatoes), my mothers blackberry jam (blackberries picked from the borders of her biodynamic garden), and some much requested fresh organic macadamia nut butter. I felt that all these delicacies that had traveled so far deserved to be eaten on really good, freshly baked bread.

So I dug around my recipe box and found this, my version of Mark Bittmans version of Jim Lahey’s “no-knead bread.”

A few years ago it seemed that everyone was making Jim Lehey’s recipe; I like it because he uses very little yeast, but I’m attracted to Mark Bittman’s version because it’s made with 100% whole grain flour.

Lehey uses only ¼ teaspoon of yeast and lets it ferment for up to 20 hours. Bittman uses 1 teaspoon of yeast and ferments it for 4 hours. I decided to meet half way with the yeast and fermentation time and used a combination of spelt, whole wheat, corn meal and sesame seeds. The bread came out moist and tangy with a nice toasty aroma from the sesame seeds.


fresh out of the oven

after 14 hours

warm with blackberry jam and macadamia nut butter

The following day I tried Jim Lahey’s original recipe using whole wheat four, it didn’t turn out as well as the above bread, but fresh out of the oven with a good slathering of tangy sweet chutney and some local goat cheese from Anne Saxelby, it hit the spot.

Bill’s chutney with “Battenkill” aged goat cheese

As kids we ate my father’s chutney with melted cheddar on rye bread, you will still find him enjoying it this way, flat white beside him while doing the crossword puzzle.

Sesame no-knead bread

2 cups whole spelt flour
½ cup whole wheat flour or rye flour
½ cup cornmeal
½ teaspoon yeast
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 ½ cups warm water
¼ cup brown sesame seeds, plus more for sprinkling over the top
Extra virgin olive oil for oiling bread tin

In a medium size bowl combine spelt flour, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, yeast and salt. Add water and mix until all combined, the dough will be a sticky, shaggy mess. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature (70 degrees) for 14 hours.

Brush a small bread tin with the olive oil (I used a 5 inch by 9.5 inch tin, smaller would be fine too). Remove plastic (save it for covering bread again) and mix in sesame seeds. Shape dough into a rectangle and gently press into the bread tin. Brush top with olive oil and sprinkle with more sesame seeds.

Cover with reserved plastic wrap and let sit for another hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake bread for 45 to 55 minutes, if you have a thermometer, the internal temperature should be 210 degrees. Remove bread from pan and allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

The perfect vehicle for rich macadamia butter and luscious black berry jam. Yum!

POSTED IN Baked Goods

TAGGED UNDER: rye flour, spelt flour, yeast

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  • Mr Weiss says:

    Looks good, I never bother making bread but this one I might just try!

  • Amy Chaplin says:

    You tried it the first time I made it….a long time ago!
    It is so simple, really takes only minutes to put together, you just have to plan ahead with the timing.

  • kenzie says:

    Amy I’m so happy to see this recipe on your blog! I sort of missed the whole craze when it started, and then since I stopped working after the baby was born I have been making it non stop. We eat enough bread that with the slow rise I basically keep it going all week. After experimenting a lot, (including one with fermented pear cider and hazelnuts) my best loaf is 2 cups white flour with germ, 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 c steel cut oats- obviously choices are endless but we love this combo. I haven’t done it in a loaf pan, only in the dutch oven. i’m going to try that next. hope you’re well- love your blog!

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi kenzie,

      So happy that your reading, thank you!
      Your recipe sounds great, did you use the cider instead of water, with hazelnuts it must have been delicious. I found the 100% whole wheat in the dutch oven didn’t work as well, I’ve seen how good the texture can be with white flour. Also like your idea of steal cut oats, there are so many variations to make! Like you I also missed the start of the craze, needed to catch up.
      Take care,


  • Laura the Conqueror says:

    Hey, Amy. I’m wondering if this recipe can be converted into a GF bread…Do you think it would still hold up if I used amaranth flour or brown rice flour for the spelt and wheat?


    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Laura,

      I haven’t experimented with gluten free breads but I think rice flour would be dense and amaranth too wet.
      Maybe a combination of millet and quinoa, with some rice flour…may be worth a try?
      Let me know how it goes!


  • Vidya says:

    Hi Amy I just found your blog through the Catskill Kiwi’s blog, and I am one happy vegetarian! Thanks for taking the time and effort to post such amazing food! I was just feeling like I need some inspiration in my cooking. Was starting to lapse into “sameness”.

    I will definitely be trying (and eating and only sharing with my flatmates if they ask really nicely!) your chocolate and raspberry tartlets. 🙂

  • Kharlot says:

    Another amazing recipe! Super easy and deliciously satisfying for breakfast as toast with jam.

  • Hi!
    I am a newbie baker, and was inspired to bake bread after reading this post. I loved the food photography on your site, and the way you write your recipes.

  • Rosalia says:

    Hi Amy, thank you for this recipe. I make bread using Lahey’s recipes, I make your sprouted spelt bread too. I want to try this recipe. I use a cast iron pot for Lahey’s recipe. For this recipe of yours what do you think if I use a pyrex pan? I don’t have a tin one. Being that the temp. is 350 I think it would be ok.

  • Rachel says:

    Hi is there a substitute for the sesame seeds? My son is allergic..

  • Emily says:

    Hi Amy,
    I made this recipe yesterday adding sultanas, crushed walnuts and rosemary to the dough – it was extraordinary, light and super delicious. Loving your website and ‘spot-on’ recipes which always turn out great.
    Wishing you health, happiness and peace in 2016 … and lots of insipiration for many more great recipes. Thanks

  • Team Goodman says:

    Hi Amy, I’m wanting to try my hand at the spelt brown rice bread from your book… I can’t get my hands on cornmeal but I do have cornflour. Can cornflour be used instead in the that recipe and the one above? Or is cornmeal deliberately used to add cult and density, and so cornflour will be a bit of a disaster? Many thanks as ever, Team Goodman x

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Team Goodman,

      I wouldn’t use corn flour in the bread as it is very fine. I like the texture of the corn grits but if I did;t have it I’d leave it out. Let me know how it goes.

      Amy x

      • Team Goodman says:

        Well, you were right of course. Only I made this before a reply came. I definitely got an appreciation of how tasty this bread could be though so that’s a positive takeaway. Cheers Amy.

  • Megan says:

    Hi, Amy!

    This recipe has changed my relationship with bread entirely! I make this delicious, clean loaf twice a week and absolutely depend on it. I’ve always experimented with breadmaking, but this recipe was the one that turned it into a reliable practice for me. Thank you!!

    I am wondering if you have any suggestions for making this bread with a natural, wild yeast/sourdough starter, rather than the store bought yeast. I’m new to using my recently-cultivated sourdough starter and not sure if this is possible or advisable, but figured it was worth asking! I suspect this would be a total game-changer and perhaps totally uproot the easey peasy no-knead process, in addition to of course changing the nature of the bread itself, but just wanted to see if you had any thoughts!

    Thanks so much!

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Hi Megan,

      Thank you for your note. I am so glad and happy that this bread has become a part of your cooking routine.
      I wish I made sourdough but its not yet part of my kitchen routine.
      There is a great book that came out in the last couple of years called Sourdough by Sarah Owens. Perhaps she will have some answers or guidance as I am sure its possible. Let me know if you figure it out, I’d love to try it!

      Amy x

      • Megan says:

        Hi again, Amy!

        Thanks so much for the prompt reply!! Sourdough by Sarah Owens was the first book I got when deciding to start my sourdough adventures, it’s wonderful! I will see what I can find out about using my starter for this wonderful stable bread. In the meantime, I have a fresh loaf of whole grain sourdough AND a fresh loaf of this wonderful favorite at all times in my much-loved and tiny brooklyn kitchen. Thanks again! I’ll let you know if I find out any good tips for sourdough starter with this lovely loaf!


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