Sesame Seed Braided Loaf – Soft braided white dough is braided and sprinkled with sesame seeds before it’s baked to a perfect golden brown. It’s the perfect texture for sandwiches!
Bread baking has become my new obsession. I love how easy it is to make some incredible breads right in my own oven. I remember how intimidated I used to be about making yeast breads. But after making a few different loaves of my own and realizing how simple it was (and how delicious that bread tasted), I have started making all kinds of breads at home. Bagels, brioche, baguettes – you name it!
Today I have a new bread that you’re also gonna love. It’s called a scali bread and it’s super popular in Italian-American homes. It’s a soft, fluffy sandwich bread that has a golden brown exterior with sesame seeds. The flavor in this bread is killer, too. We’ll make a starter the night before that helps develop the flavor of the bread.
But before we get any further into the recipe, let’s gawk at some more photos, uh?
The recipe for this loaf is one of the easiest recipes for bread you’ll find. There are very few ingredients – flour, yeast, water, salt, olive oil, and sugar – and very few steps.
Making the starter
The first step in the process is making the starter dough. This consists of just water, flour, and a pinch of yeast. It’s made the night before you make the bread so that the yeast and the flour can develop a deeper flavor.
Making the dough
Once the starter has formed, it’s added to the rest of the dough ingredients and mixed together to make the dough. The dough is then kneaded to make it smooth and elastic. You can do this right in the bowl of your stand mixer after the dough forms.
After kneaded, the dough is covered and set aside to rest and rise for about 1.5 hours.
Braiding the dough
Once the dough has time to rise, it’s time to braid it. This process is super simple. You’re braiding it just as you braid hair. But you must make sure to seal the ends of the braid so it doesn’t come undone while baking. Also, make sure you weigh out the 3 pieces of dough to ensure they are the same size. Otherwise, your braid may look lopsided.
The braid is covered and set aside to rise again.
Baking the bread
Once the dough has risen again to almost double it’s size, it’s time to bake it. Before baking, however, we brush it with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. It’s placed in a preheated oven and baked for about 40 minutes or until the center reaches 205 degrees.
Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing.
Tips and tricks
- The most important thing to remember for this braid recipe is to ensure the ends of the braid are secured. The last thing you want is the braid to come undone during baking.
- To ensure your braid doesn’t look lopsided, create three equal portions of dough and braid it. I use a scale to help me create equal portions of dough. Simply weigh the dough and then divide the weight by 3. This is how much each portion of dough should weigh.
- Ever since watching the Great British Baking Show, I have realized the importance of baking bread all the way through. You do no want to spend all that time baking and come to find the dough is raw when you slice into it. To ensure my bread is cooked through, I use a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should be at 205 degrees when the bread is done.
Sesame Seed Braided Loaf
For the starter:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup warm water
- ⅛ teaspoon active dry yeast
For the baguettes:
- all of the starter (from above)
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- egg wash (1 egg with 1 teaspoon water)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- The night before baking, make the starter by combining all the starter ingredients in a medium bowl and stirring together with a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
- The next morning, combine the starter in a large bowl of a stand mixer with the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a dough hook on low until all the ingredients form a dough. Turn up speed one notch and mix for another 8 minutes. The dough should be smooth and not stick to the sides of the bowl. If it's too sticky, add 2 tablespoons of flour and mix together.
- Grease a large bowl with olive oil. Pour out dough into grease bowl and coat completely. Cover with a damp towel and place in microwave or other draft-free spot to rise for 1½ hours.
- Grab two baking sheets and stack together. Wrap in aluminum foil and set aside. Punch down risen dough and remove from bowl. Separate dough into three even balls of dough. Roll each ball into logs that are about 11 inches long.
- Arrange logs in front of you, perpendicular to the edge of the counter. Pinch the tops of the logs together into one and then braid the dough. Pinch the ends together and then tuck under the braid slightly. Place braid gently onto prepare baking sheets. Make sure the ends of the braid are sealed. You can even slightly tuck them under the dough to keep them in place. Cover with damp towel and let rise again for 1½ hours.
- Once risen again, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush braid with egg wash and then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until center of the dough reaches 205 degrees and the top is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.