Improving My Bread Baking Part 3: Rustic Loaf with Fennel, Poppy, and Sesame Seeds

If you’ve been following along, I’ve been making very gradual progress in my artisan bread baking skills.

Baby step progress.????

I did get a taste of quality bread on my recent trip to New York at some of the restaurants we ate at and this reminded me of what I am aiming for. (Always good to have a solid reference point!)

I think I am on the right track, but still have a ways to go.

For the next part of the series, I tried another rustic loaf recipe.  This attempt used King Arthur’s A Simple Rustic Loaf with a few modifications-

  • using dry active yeast instead of instant yeast
    • used warm water ~105 degrees to proof it, rather than cool water
  • using dark rye flour instead of pumpernickle flour
  • reducing salt by 1/2 tsp
  • I didn’t have their seed mix and instead created my own:  1 Tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 Tablespoon of poppy seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds.
  • baking time, I used a thermometer and left the bread in until it read 210 for the interior temp.

Here is the progression of the bread making process –

The lessons I learned from this attempt were:

  1. The bread came out a little more dense than I would have liked despite exceeding the max rest time and looking rather plump before I slashed them.
    1. I was worried about letting it over-rise and went ahead with slashing
  2. I used my large bread knife to do the slashing this time after watching a few videos demonstrating the technique.
    1. My movement wasnt fast enough and the knife got caught. Thus the ripped look of the dough. I was reading Julia Child’s notes on slashing bread in her cookbook and she says to use a razor, so I may try using that or my Chef knife right after I sharpen it.
  3. Go easy on the fennel seeds. Wayyy more potent than expected! Looking back, I should have cut the fennel seed amount by 1/3 since it was strong and was the dominant flavor of the bread.
  4. Crust was barely passable. I should have used the falling oven technique and or steam to ensure I nice crunchy brown crust.
    1. You can see the top part of the bread has a better crust than my first two attempts but still not as nice as the bottom.

Baking bread notes

  • For the oven, I preheated for 45 minutes prior to putting the dough and a few light sprays of water before putting it in.
  • The dough held it’s shape this time with absolutely no flattening out, so small win there!
  • Allow the bread to rise a little longer 30-45 minutes longer to see if it results in a more airy bread.
    • Has anyone had their bread collapse from letting it rise too long?
    • That’s what I’m afraid of, but maybe I need to just push the dough to the max and see how far I can take it before that happens to me.
  • I think if I use seeds again, I prefer to have them on top or as part of the crust, not mixed in with the dough.
  • I don think that this bread had the deep earthy rustic flavor that I like about rustic bread. Of all the loaves (6)  I’ve made thus far, this loaf was my least favorite. It may have been the seeds, but not sure if I will try this one again. We shall see.

What do you guys think!? Any other tips or suggestions?


inspired by kingarthur




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6 thoughts on “Improving My Bread Baking Part 3: Rustic Loaf with Fennel, Poppy, and Sesame Seeds

    • April 18, 2017 at 7:08 am

      in that case, maybe i will reconsider trying this without the seeds!

  • April 17, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    King Arthur carries a gizmo for slicing the top. I use that and feel very professional! Your loaf looks higher anyway.

    • April 18, 2017 at 7:08 am

      thanks Elizabeth, i took a look at their shop. it’s the walnut lame tool right?


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