Seeded Whole Wheat Sourdough

With the Big Move finally coming to a close I can now return to baking full-on. There are still things to do, for sure, but at least now I have some time during the day to fold dough, feed my sourdough starter, and bake in earnest. During the down time between moves I had the opportunity to bake for family but it wasn’t in my own kitchen, with my own tools and my own timing. It’s a challenge to be heaved into unfamiliar territory and expect processes to run like they have before. Regardless, I adapted and several bread bakes turned out great. It feels good to have a kitchen I know I’ll be settled into for quite a while …and with a double oven (!).

Some call flax seeds one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet.

This seeded whole wheat sourdough recipe, while rather straightforward, builds on my 95% whole wheat sourdough recipe with a few changes and with, of course, the integration of two different types of seeds. I’ve been eating raw flaxseeds for a good while now and have used them in everything from banana bread, my morning oats, protein and fruit shakes, and even sprinkled in my yogurt from time to time. They have a certain desirable nutty taste to them and as research suggests are quite good for you. Sesame seeds, well, they just taste good in and on bread, no doubt about that. I’d say even more so with this whole wheat bread a combination I had yet to try until now.

Look at this spoiled dog, I mean really. I just had to share this, the light is sublime and my two ladies lined up for just a perfect shot.

German shepherd

Prepare the young levain – 7:00am

I’ve come to utilize a young levain almost exclusively these days. Preparation is much easier, the taste is very mild due to low acid content, and it leavens my dough just as strong as an overnight build.

Chad Robertson talks about this young levain in more detail in his book Tartine No. 3 and that was really my impetus for experimenting with just how quickly I can use a levain build after mixing. Of course this will invariably depend on your ambient temperature, flour type, and the vigor of your starter, but for me it’s been pretty consistent this summer at around 5 hours ferment time. The weather has been incredibly hot here recently and this levain build was ready in just over 4 hours. A little shorter than usual.

100% hydration sourdough starter (yeast culture)

Prepare the following right after you get up in the morning:

Weight Ingredient
25g Mature starter
50g King Arthur whole wheat flour
50g King Arthur white bread flour
100g H2O @ 85ºF

Keep it in a warm area in your kitchen for about 5 hours. Check on your levain from time to time just to make sure it doesn’t go nuts on you you want bubbles around the sides, some visible on the top, and if you peel back a little bit a slight smell of ripe fruit.

Run your morning errands, get a cappuccino, walk the dog, hit the gym, as you do. Come back in 4-6 hours and we’ll get the seeds toasted.

Toast Seeds – 11:00am

You’ll want to place the following seed mixture into a baking pan and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes or so. Be careful not to burn your sesame seeds! I might have gone 2-3 minutes too long on mine and they take on a very strong taste when overcooked.

Sesame and flax seeds

I gathered a total of 1/2 cup of seeds, about 50% sesame and 50% flax. You could go up or down on this depending on your taste but I think this turned out just right for this bread. You’ll want to keep a little extra sesame on the side (do not toast) for coating the outside of your loaves, if desired.

Once cooked remove from the oven, pour the seeds into a cup or bowl, and let cool. Set aside for later.

Autolyse & Mix – 11:15am

Just like my previous entry detailing a 95% whole wheat sourdough, we will autolyse for the entire duration your levain is fermenting. This autolyse is without any levain added to it (obviously your levain isn’t even ready yet!). This makes things pretty easy: your levain will be ready and your dough will have undergone a long autolyse, increasing extensibility to allow for a nice rise with a normally stiff whole wheat dough.

Dough Mix:

Gather the following for your dough:

Weight Ingredient Baker’s Percentage
500g High extraction Giusto’s whole wheat flour 50%
150g Giusto’s whole wheat flour 15%
250g King Arthur organic white whole wheat flour 25%
100g King Arthur bread flour 10%
850g H2O @ 84ºF 85%
25g Fine sea salt 2.5%
175g Ripe levain 17.5%


Perform the following:

  1. In a thick bowl add 500g high extraction whole wheat flour, 150g whole wheat, 250g white whole wheat and white bread flour
  2. Add 725g of your 84ºF water (the rest, 125g, is reserved until later when we add in the levain after the autolyse)
  3. Mix by hand until all the dry ingredients are incorporated
  4. Cover with wrap and keep covered near your levain for 4-6 hours

After your 4-6 hour autolyse – 11:15am

In a separate bowl, mix thoroughly together your remaining 125g water (@ 85ºF) and 175g levain that is now ready. Place your 25g salt on top of the original dough mixture and slowly pour on this levain/water mix. Cut the salt through your dough with your hand and mix everything until it comes back together and becomes sticky.

Final dough temperature: 79ºF
Ambient temperature: 75ºF

Bulk Fermentation – 11:30am

Transfer your dough to a clear container to be used during bulk fermentation and let rest for the first 30 minutes. I’ve started to occasionally use Cambro containers to perform my bulk (per suggestions in Ken Forkish’s book Flour Water Salt Yeast this is an incredible book if you do not already own it). While my wife and I try to use as little plastic in our lives as possible, these have helped me judge when my bulk fermentation is nearing completion. The containers have markings on the side that easily help spot a 20-30% increase in volume.

  1. 12:00pm – Turn Set 1
  2. 12:30pm – Turn Set 2

After the turn at the second 30 minutes, add in your toasted seed mixture and fold to incorporate thoroughly.

  1. 1:00pm – Turn Set 3
  2. 1:30pm – Turn Set 4 (missed this)
  3. 2:00pm – Turn Set 5
  4. 2:30pm – Turn Set 6
  5. 2:30pm – 6:30pm – Rest on counter untouched

Due to the fact that our house has contractors coming day-to-day to finish up small things, I actually missed my 1:30pm set of turns. No worries, things happen and our environment changes, we have to adapt to our busy schedules and work in the dough where we can.

Sesame and flax seeds in for the sourdough mix

Stay observant with your dough, keep an eye on how it develops and mentally take note of its subtle changes over time. You will start to build an intuitive sense for when your dough starts to strengthen at each set of turns so that even if you miss a set you just move on and keep going until it looks strong enough.

Pre-shape – 6:35pm

Take the dough out of the container onto your work surface and sprinkle some flour on top before dividing. Divide into two halves and lightly spin the dough in little circles across your work surface with your bench knife in one hand and your other empty hand. Let this pre-shape rest, covered with a damp towel or inverted bowls, for 20 minutes.

My dough here was quite stiff, as whole wheat usually is by this point. This makes shaping very easy, but you want to avoid shaping too tight here for the pre-shape. Just a few scoots to get a nice taut outer surface and that’s all. Look at that, isn’t it beautiful? There’s something so peaceful about shaped dough resting on a wood counter.

Seeded whole wheat sourdough bread

Lightly dust your proofing bowls/baskets with white or brown rice flour in preparation for the next step.

Shape + Proof – 6:55pm

Take a clean kitchen towel and lay it on the counter. Spread flat some of the untoasted sesame seeds on the towel in a circle about the size of your desired finished boules. After shaping you’ll quickly plop the shaped boule on top of these seeds to coat the surface before placing into your proofing baskets. I decided not to top these with flax seeds but you could certainly do so.

Flour the top of each boule, and, working with one at a time, invert it and start your shaping. Gently pull the bottom toward you and fold up about midway, take the right side and stretch outward and then up and over about midway, repeat with the left and top sides. When the top is folded down and over, gently pull the boule towards you with two hands so it slightly pulls on the counter creating tension and a tight outer skin.

Seeded whole wheat sourdough bread

Place your baskets in plastic bags and into the fridge to proof overnight, we will bake these in the morning.

Score + Bake – 7:00am

In the morning, place your baking stone (I love my super thick ones found over at my baking tools page) and Dutch oven in your oven at the bottom 1/3 rack position and turn it on to 500ºF for a 1 hour pre-heat. I usually leave the shallow side facing up on the left, and the deeper side on the right facing down. This way when it’s time to load the bread I can quickly grab the shallow side, slide in the dough, and then place back on the stone and cover with the deep side of the Dutch oven.

After one hour, take one of your baskets out of the fridge and cut a piece of parchment paper to place on top. Take your peel and then put it on top of those two and quickly invert it so the dough is now resting on the parchment paper and the peel.

Score the top of the loaf with your desired pattern. One of these boules I did just my normal crescent slash and the other, without sesame seeds, I did an “X” with smaller slashes between each line in the “X”.

Take out the shallow side of your Dutch oven and drag in your boule. Quickly place the pan back in the oven, cover with the deep side, and bake for 20 minutes at 500ºF. After 20 minutes, turn down the oven to 450ºF and cook covered for an additional 10 minutes. Once this 10 minute period is over, open the oven and take off the deep lid of the Dutch oven (set it next to the other half inside the oven, which will help regulate oven temperature for the rest of the bake), then cook for an additional 30 minutes or so, until the bread is to your desired doneness.

Seeded whole wheat sourdough bread


Whole wheat bread ranks high on my list of favorite breads to eat and the added seeds gave this bake an added twist of flavor. Flax seeds add quite a bit of nutrition to this already wholesome bread while the touch of sesame seeds adds some depth and complexity. This is a great “everyday” bread with a modification to keep things interesting. If you make whole wheat sourdough often try out this combination of seeds I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Seeded whole wheat sourdough bread

If you’ve baked my 95% Whole Wheat bread recipe with no problems this will be an easy bread for you: very little changes with just a few things tweaked to accommodate the added seeds.


Crispy, thin, with great color and ears. Sometimes it can be hard to get that oven spring we all look for but this recipe shows the way. The loaf with sesame seeds coating the outside had an extra level of crunch to it and looked spectacular to boot.

Seeded whole wheat sourdough bread


Light, airy, and very tender. It’s quite open. This is great sandwich bread, the tighter crumb holds in all of your ingredients with nothing falling through.

Seeded whole wheat sourdough bread crumb


The mix of whole wheat flours in this bread is very, very tasty. I have been using a few sacks of Giusto’s whole wheat here and there and I really like the quality and taste of their flour. I believe if you’re in California you can find this around town but I ordered a case of it online. I’ll be placing an order for some of their white flour sometime soon to experiment.

The flax seeds do add a slight nuttiness to the bread, which is really subtle but enough to remind you there’s something else going on. As I mentioned earlier I might have toasted the sesame seeds just a tad too long and they do take on a strong flavor. Make sure you do not use toasted seeds to coat the outside of your bread before baking!

If you’re looking for more whole wheat sourdough, check out my latest 100% whole wheat recipe that has us making a completely whole grain bread — nutritious, super healthy, and easy enough.

For another take on seeded sourdough that’s been recently updated, have a look at my new Seeded Sourdough post that uses less whole wheat flour like the recipe here. The new recipe produces an incredibly light and airy seeded loaf with the added flavor of fennel and semolina.

For my usual post-bake lunch… this time I had some roasted chicken, fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market, avocado, local greens, cheddar and grain mustard. The whole wheat and seeds really balanced out the flavors and made this a hearty sandwich — enough to keep the energy high while unpacking the remaining few we have in the living room…

Seeded whole wheat sourdough bread

Buon appetito!

Recipe and method submitted to YeastSpotting.

  • ml

    Magnifico, grazie!

  • aspieeyes

    This looks terrific! Thanks for posting!

  • aspieeyes

    Am trying this weekend with fresh ground flour and increased hydration…

    • Let me know how it turns out. You’re going to up the hydration more than what I have here? This bread could definitely handle it. Have fun!

  • aspieeyes

    Yes, I find I need to increase hydration when grinding my own flours as they are thirstier because all the components (germ, bran and endosperm) are present. Store flours have a lot of the grains goodness sifted out to make them shelf stable, otherwise it would go rancid fairly quickly.

    • If you don’t mind me asking, what type of home mill do you have? This is something I hope to get later this year.

      • aspieeyes

        Ask away! I am using a Komo XL mill and love it.

        • I was looking to get a Komo as well, they look solid and like they will last a lifetime. I think milling must add a whole new dimension to baking as now you have to manage flour shelf life (when to use, etc.), granularity, and probably more than I realize.

          I’ve heard people say milling your own flour is akin to a coffee drinker who grinds their own beans. If that is the case then I need a mill ASAP — grinding your coffee beans fresh makes a HUGE difference.

          • aspieeyes

            I am in total agreement. Comparisons are like apples and oranges 🙂 There is a whole wide world of info out there when researching your mill which I found to be invaluable.
            Questions arise like what mill is suitable for my needs? I went with the XL rather than the Classic because, it having a larger motor it will outlast the Classic. I also have a customer base whom I bake for so that was a huge factor in my decision making.
            The advantages are tremendous when grinding your own flour. You get to grind only what you need…just weigh out your grains! Your grains will also last a long time if stored properly. I also love to sprout my grains which gives a different depth of flavor to my breads

            • Now you’ve really convinced me… I just bumped up the priority on buying a mill now. 🙂 Thanks for the information!

  • What beautiful loaves!!

    • Thank you very much! Tasty too 🙂

  • I’ve been going nuts with seeds recently (pun intended). I took inspiration from the Rene’s rye from tartine N3. Basically changed it to a 80/20 rye/white with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax, poppy seeds and sesame. Then sprinkled the top with caraway. Its literally my favourite bread at the moment. Ratio’s and amounts came out perfect first time which was a first for me as there’s a lot to balance in the loaf. That dog pic is amazing! thanks for sharing

    • That sounds like a fabulous mix my friend! I might have to give that exact loaf a try sometime soon. I haven’t attempted Rene’s Rye just yet, but again, it’s on the list 🙂

      One thing I’m always weary about with seeded bread is that the seeds sometime are too overpowering. That mix you have there sounds great, though, I’ll have to pick up some caraway at the market!

  • Megan

    Maurizio, I just baked the seeded bread this morning, and it came out beautifully. I had been taking shortcuts in baking my bread lately (mixing the flour and water without weighing, leaving out the autolyse), and it just wasn’t coming out very good. I decided to go back to following your recipe to the letter. What a difference! The raw dough had that elasticy spongy quality that I had been missing, so I knew it was going to be good. Once baked it gave me a beautiful rise with great ears.

    I started mulling over buying a flour mill again, and noticed your discussion here. Did you buy one yet?

    • Excellent! Good bread takes time, as they say 🙂 Adding that little bit of autolyse time really does wonders, especially for whole wheat breads where extensibility can be a bit low.

      I haven’t made the leap yet to buy my own grain mill but I hope to sometime this year. I’ve been looking at the Hawos, KoMo and even the Grain Maker (makes you work for that flour but has some really great qualities to it). Once I pick one up I’ll definitely do an entry here on how I use it, etc.

      Thanks for the comments and happy baking!

  • lisacohen

    Okay, so I know I posted asking for a good starting point on IG after you posted gorgeous photos of your most recent 100% ww loaf… after searching a bunch of places online, I stumbled upon your site so I think I’ve found the base from which to start for my 100% ww. 😀 Yaaay! I have a Komo (<–love it! Best birthday present ever!) and am going to mill up some org white ww for this and leave out the seeds to start. I still have some slices of a flax and sunflower seeded loaf that I'm working through from my freezer and want a minimalist ww loaf with unencumbered crumb for now. 😉 Can't wait to dig in to mixing tonight when my starter is revived! Thank you for sharing your process and recipe.

    • Glad you found my site via multiple avenues, I must be on to something 🙂 This recipe makes some really great whole wheat bread but keep in mind what I posted on IG was a true 100% whole wheat sourdough, even the levain was whole wheat. I’m in the process of writing it up and it should be here on the site in the next week (have you subscribed to new posts at the top-right? This way you’ll get an email right when I post new articles).

      That said, give this a shot, it makes some great bread! I’m totally jealous of your KoMo, I’ve been wanting a mill for a long, long time. That is on my list of potential winners for when I make the purchase later this year.

      Love to hear how this loaf turns out for you, let me me know — happy baking Lisa!

      • Thanks Maurizio! Yes, you’re definitely on to something! 😉 Keep at it! I’m finding it fascinating.

        I keep a 100% hydration, 100% white whole wheat starter and I was planning on making the levain with all white whole wheat too… so mine will be 100% as well. I was hoping to get mixing tonight but I see that your levain and autolyse for the 95% loaf are mixed in the morning and sit for 4-6 hours. Since I’ve been mostly making Tartine/T3 loaves, I usually mix the night before so I’m not sure if I’ll leave it for the morning and proceed as you advise in this post or try for an overnighht levain as usual. Hmmm. But then my autolyse would be off unless I did that the night before. Hmmm. Have you ever autolysed overnight or know what effect it would have on the dough? I guess I could try it and find out, right, all in the name of experimentation (and as an ode to exuberance)?

        I usually read your blog in my rss reader (Feedly) but I will subscribe so I can get your posts right in my inbox. 🙂

        Do you know how I can turn on notifications to get comment replies sent to my email as well? I didn’t see that you commented until I came over and looked at the post again for ingredients gathering.

        • I definitely plan to keep at it, I love writing here and documenting my bakes — plus helping people where I can is great!

          You can definitely do an overnight autolyse, especially with whole wheat. I prefer around a 4 hour autolyse for this bread, but it does depend on your flour as well. What flour are you using? It’s pretty flexible really, you can start your autolyse in the morning or the night before, usually the longer the autolyse the more extensible (stretchy-without-breaking), up to a point of course.

          I have been having an issue with people not getting replies to comments. I just flipped some switches, hopefully that fixes things! (if you get a notification please let me know it’s working!)

  • Hi. I still didn’t get an email response of you reply.

    I will try for the overnight autolyse. Yay! Glad I don’t have to pretend to be patient about this loaf and wait until tomorrow morning. ;D

    • There should now be a little checkbox below where you make your comment, I think if that’s checked you should get an email now.

      I know how it is, excitement builds!

  • AHa! Yes, the little checkbox is there now. 😀 Awesome. Thanks.

    I’ve done all of my turns and am letting the dough sit for a few hours now. I can’t say I have a good feeling about this. It feels very slack to me. On the 5th and 6th turn it did feel stronger but it gets slack and flat-pancake-like quickly after resting. We shall see. We shall see.

    • How did it turn out? It’s possible the autolyse was too long and there was too much water incorporated in your dough. Next time we can reduce one, or both, and try to prevent some of that slackness!

      • Yay!! I received your comment in my inbox. Wahooo! 😉 It rose more than I was expecting during it’s cold fermentation so I was optimistic. But it ended up turning out a little pancake-y, in that it flattened out a ton. The loaf is cooling now so I haven’t cut into it yet. I’ll post pics on Instagram when I do. Thanks for checking back in. Yes, there is tinkering to be done and I’m very much looking forward to the experiments!

  • Maria Dans

    Fantastic post. Your loaves look beautiful! We’ve also recently started making Tartine-style seeded loaves, but have not yet figured out how to prevent the seeds on the top of the loaf from burning without compromising the brown-crispness of the top crust. Have tried soaking the seeds before-hand, as well as putting a piece of aluminum foil on the top. Both work OK, but not great. Any suggestions? Thanks again for an awesome post.

    • Thank you! What seeds are you using? Some seeds have a lower temperature threshold and will burn easier. These black sesame seeds were just fine on top of my bread by the time it finished cooking. Note that I do *not* toast the seeds used as a topping beforehand, they are raw.

      Aside from the suggestions you’ve already put forth I can’t recommend anything else, I would have said use a bit of tin foil perhaps 🙂 Another thought: are your loaves near the top of your oven or where heat is generated? If so try moving your rack down some away from that heating element (or the top of the oven). You might also want to try a lower starting temperature when baking to prevent that initial scorch. Your bread will take longer to cook but it should prevent that initial burning of the seeds.

      Just some thoughts… Let me know if you discover anything else, sorry I could not suggest more. Happy baking and thanks again for the comments!

  • WoW! . . awesome post. I think I love you! You’re beautiful and you make such incredible looking bread .. and I’m sure so very tasty! Thanks.

    • Thanks, really appreciate that!

      • LoL! I thought the author was pictured with the dog . . you’re not as beautiful nor do I love you as much as originally thought 😉 . . . but still a very AWESOME post !!

        • Hah! Yes, the lady is my wife 🙂

          • so funny . . thanks! . . . you’re a good .. and lucky! .. man.
            Best wishes in all you do.

  • Sarah

    Hi Maurizio,

    I’m in the midst of an experiment: using the proportions of the Emmer/Maple/Beer recipe in Tartine 3, but instead of using beer/maple, I just used water, and instead of adding sprouted emmer, I added the seed mix from the Tartine 3 “Seeded Wheat” recipe (flax, sesame, toasted ground caraway, pumpkin, sunflower). I just finished the 30 minutes of covered baking and the dough seems to have really spread, which leads me to believe it was too wet. It had been a pretty stiff dough, and my seeds had really soaked up the water, so I didn’t think I’d have a wetness issue. Now with the lid off, I see dampness in the bread, in addition to it not having much oven spring. Do you think it was a mistake to experiment with the emmer recipe? Or where do you think I might have gone wrong?

    Would love your take,


    • I don’t think it was a mistake at all — that’s part of the fun of baking and making recipes your own! Based on your description it does sound like the dough was over hydrated, especially if it has a “wet” appearance. The seed mixture probably held onto water that was then released into the dough. I’d say if you are going to try this again reduce the overall hydration of your dough to anticipate the seeds releasing some water. Also, make sure you train the seeds completely to make sure and remove any water that way as well.

      That’s my 2 cents! I’d definitely give it another try, sounds delicious!

      • Sarah

        Thank you so much for the encouraging words, Maurizio! Good point on holding back on the hydration of the dough overall next time. The seeds were merely damp when I added them to the dough, so I guess they must have released a lot of liquid during backing.

        Key question: I only baked one of the loaves so far. Any adjustments you think I could make in baking the other loaf to achieve better results? Should I bake it in a loaf pan? Or cook it covered longer/at higher heat?

        Thank you!

  • Gina Wallace

    I made this over the weekend. But switched around some of the flours. I milled spelt and wheat and did bulk of the flours with them. I sifted some of the wheat for high extraction, but used only 100 grams of it. Spelt, 500 grams and all the rest whole wheat. Beautiful loaves and so yummy. Crumb is so pretty and much like your pictures. I can’t stop eating it actually! With butter, with cheese and garlic marinated olives, toasted or not. Am heading to have a piece now before bed!

    • Love the idea of using spelt with this recipe… I need to try that! I also love that you always bake with so much fresh milled grain, very cool. Thanks for the suggestion Gina, now I know what I need to bake soon!