The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sesame Levain, Sweet Challah and Borodinsky

MisterTT's picture

Sesame Levain, Sweet Challah and Borodinsky

This is my first blog post here on TFL. I've been baking for quite some time now, but there's always more to learn and work on and I'll admit to being tentative sharing my bakes, but anyways --

Today, I baked:

  • a Forkish-style Sesame Levain (75% hydration, 95% not-quite-white-but-not-high-extraction-either 812D wheat flour, 5% whole rye). Retarded for 16 hours and somewhat overproofed. Baked cold DO, cold oven. I find this is a nice way to warm up the oven.
  • Dan Dimuzzio's Sweet Challah. This bread is family favorite, I get asked to make it maybe 4-5 times a month. The loaf is 5-braided, with the seams between the braids split open a little bit - a look I like a lot.
  • Borodinsky using the Auerman process. Formula by Andy (ananda), though I tweaked it a little bit. 88% hydration, 85% whole rye, 15% 550D wheat flour. I used Lithuanian roasted rye malt, which to my mind really makes the bread nice, dark and tasty. This is my all time favorite bread, love to eat it with hard boiled eggs and a dab of good mayonnaise as an open-faced sandwich.

Crumb shots:

Sesame Levain:





evonlim's picture

hello misterTT, nice to have you here at TFL. you must be baking for a while already, your loaves are wonderful.

happy baking.. hope to see more post from you soon


MisterTT's picture

Yes, I've been baking for nearly a year and also reading up on it like crazy. I had dabbled a bit in the past as well.

I'm very glad that you liked this bake - your creative breads have been an inspiration!

dabrownman's picture

this is a nice one.  All of them look fantastic and like you, i too love the dark while rye breads.  The blisters on the boule are easy enough to see from a distance too.  Lets see some crumb shots Mister!

Nice baking

MisterTT's picture

I've uploaded some crumb shots - the boule, while being overproofed thankfully doesn't have "baker sleeping space" :) Challah is pretty much what you'd expect. I'll cut the Borodinsky tomorrow morning and post.

Janetcook's picture

Mr. TT,

Very nice loaves.  If you like ANdy's Borodinsky you might like to try his Moscow Rye too.  Very similar but not as sweet and caraway is the spice.

Take Care,


MisterTT's picture

yes, I've tried it - very good as well, but it is the sort of bread that I have eaten since childhood so while I like it very much, it has grown a little old. Commercial Borodinsky, on the other hand, has extremely declined in both quality and availability these past 10 years, so I hadn't really availed myself of it all that much in recent times.

ananda's picture

Hello Mister TT,

Very good to read your thoughts on the Borodinsky bread.   These days I make it as a 100% rye bread, as it is just as popular with the "wheat-fee" customer as with the rye afficionados.

I wanted to mention this as it is a problem I had for long years, and one still not fully solved.   It is important to try to use a bread tin which is quite narrow, and has tall sides to give best support to the paste during final proof and baking.   The wide pans which are quite squat work well for light wheat loaves, but are very much less flattering for 100% rye loaves.   Your Borodinsky loaf is clearly a fine loaf; it could be really special if made in a tin which truly flatters this style of bread.   Of course, it is not so easy to source these types of bread tin.

Very best wishes


MisterTT's picture

I'm very glad you took the time to give advice - some things about this forum are really invaluable. I have seen your formulas with Borodinsky as a 100% rye and would love to try it, but I'm sorry to say that in a country where rye bread consumption is thereabouts the same as wheat bread I cannot source light rye flour. I am going to try sifting whole rye and grinding it up some more, but haven't tried that yet, so I usually stick to Borodinsky with wheat flour for my daily bread. I do make 100% whole rye quite often, usually with some sort of seeds - sunflower and pumpkin a favorite - but these loaves are just that little bit denser that a 85% or 90% rye. As I understand the light rye would solve the problem.

Regarding the tins, I can't even get a decent pullman pan without shipping it from a long way away, but I do have a couple silicon quick-bread forms which are not as wide and taper slightly towards the bottom. The shape is probably OK, but I doubt the silicon would support the paste enough not to let it spread. I'll have to think on it.

Thanks for the advice, Andy!

Mebake's picture

Gorgeous breads mister TT, nice job!


MisterTT's picture

for the kind words, Khalid!

varda's picture

Love to see those borodinskies.  You have finished yours so nicely with coriander.  Love your serving suggestion - egg and mayonnaise.   I have stuck with the 80% rye level, but my hydration is now up to around 100% which just seems to go better.  Managed to sell a few at the farmer's market on Saturday.   People were asking what to eat it with.   I always eat it with creamcheese or butter but wasn't sure if that would upset people or not.   Next time I'll say egg and mayo.   I made two in one short pullman with a layer of parchment between so they would separate.   I can never get the weights exactly alike when I do this.   I agree with Andy, that they just don't get enough lift in a wide pan, as they will only go so high above the rim (not very high.)   Your sesame and challah loaves are beautiful too.  -Varda

MisterTT's picture

I think it is very great that you are spreading the high-rye love to new places. Never had borodinsky with cream cheese, but it's wonderful with butter, I don't think you will upset anyone if you suggest it!

I have seen your posts on borodinsky and love the way you get them very dark in color. Your splitting the pan idea got me thinking that I could buy a few pieces of heatproof tin and use it to heighten the sides of my pan a little bit and split it lengthwise down the middle - that way the loaves should be a bit higher. I wonder if the paste will support the pieces of tin without screwing them on, but something to try until I get a taller pan :)