Bread loaf

July 10, 2011  •  Category:


This recipe comes from Maria Speck’s book Ancient Grains for Modern Meals; it is a bread that rises in a pot filled with water. I read this and flashback-ed  to my two goldfish whom (as a kid)  I used to dump in the bathtub while I cleaned their tank; found out much later that it was just not done, but they survived the weekly voyage to the tub. Well, so does this bread.

I was skeptical: Come on, Maria! Well, I apologize, this bread did everything she said it would do; it did rise in the water, it did bake to a nice crust with minimum effort. I asked my daughter to corroborate and she did agree that it took me about 3 minutes of work.


  • 2 1/2 cups of unbleached flour (10 3/4 ounces) (the recipe calls for whole-wheat, I used 2 cups white and 1/2 cup whole-wheat)
  • 5 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup lukewarm water (90 to 100F); less if using white flour like I did
  • Cornmeal for sprinkling


  1. Fill a large pot with water to within an inch of the rim.
  2. Place the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and sesame seeds in a bowl. Mix well to combine and form a well in the middle. Pour the water gradually stirring or mixing (if using a mixer) until a sticky and wet dough forms.
  3. Remove the dough to  a work area, sprinkle with flour a bit on all sides, form a ball and drop into the pot filled with water.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425F and place a cast-iron skillet or a baking stone or sheet in the oven to warm up. Use the lower third of the oven. Grab a piece of parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal.
  5. Wait about 20 minutes (or longer) and when the ball of dough has risen, grab it gently and place it on a floured counter. Sprinkle with no more than 5 tablespoons of flour and when a nice ball is formed (not too wet but not dry either), place on a parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal. Place a towel on the dough and let it sit for 20 minutes. Brush the dough with water and sprinkle with more sesame seeds. Score the dough with a knife, forming three lines, about 1/4 inch deep.
  6. Place the dough in the oven with the paper;  bake for 25 minutes until the dough is golden-brown and the crust is stiff and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and cool for a couple of hours. Slice and enjoy.


25 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Michaela says:

    Yummy, nice bread.

  2. Margaret says:

    How interesting. Thanks for posting. Been wanting to try one of her breads.

  3. kankana says:

    This bread is baked to perfection .. and dropping that dough in a pot full of water is new t me. I am horrible in making bread .. should try this one.

  4. Devaki says:

    I have never ever heard of floating bread and quite right you are about being skeptical Joumana – who can imagine this would turn our so amazingly beautiful. I am glad you did because I want to make this too 🙂

    PS – too cute about your gold fish in the bath tub and so happy they survived the weekly ‘voyage’ 🙂

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  5. Rosa says:

    What a beautiful loaf! It looks so flavorful.



  6. Nuts about food says:

    Wow, if it is as easy at you make it sounds and as lovely as it looks this recipe is keeper!

  7. Peter says:

    I have Maria’s book and when I saw this beautiful bread – there’s no surprise! Love bread with lots of sesame seeds on it.

  8. Amanda says:

    Wow – what an interesting recipe. I’ve never heard of bread being risen this way, but I’ll be giving it a try soon.

  9. Belinda @zomppa says:

    What a gorgeous loaf….wouldn’t mind grabbing a chunk of that.

  10. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    This is great! It looks a lot like the No Knead bread.

  11. T.W Barritt says:

    When I saw the title I had to wonder what the post was about. I’ve never heard ofnletting bread rise in water, but I guess there are similarities to making bagels and items such as that, and the technique give it a nice crust. I’ll have to give it a try.

  12. Caffettiera says:

    I’ve never heard of this technique, sounds really easy. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Banana Wonder says:

    What a cool method! I got to try this sometime.

  14. Lynne says:

    That looks so, so good – and I love the interesting variation on preparing it!! (as long as we don’t add any goldfish, hahaha). I can almost smell the sesame seeds… mmm!!

  15. Alice says:

    This was delicious!!!

  16. Krista says:

    How fascinating! I love when new ideas throw you for a loop then end up turning out beautifully. Gorgeous loaf!

  17. Faith says:

    That is a really beautiful loaf of bread, Joumana. Sounds like a very interesting technique and I’d really love to give it a try!

  18. Leigh says:

    I predict this will be the next Internet bread sensation, akin to the no-knead bread fervor of years past! Can’t wait to give it a try, wish I could steal a piece!

  19. Jamie says:

    Looking at the earthy, golden quality of this loaf I expected something so much more complicated in the list of ingredients, but something so simple that looks so divine is for me! Gorgeous recipe! Absolutely love bread with sesama seeds, too.

  20. Tova says:

    Wow! What a cool idea. And sesame seeds on bread are my absolute favorite!

  21. Alicia (Foodycat) says:

    That is so amazing! I would never have imagined that it would work!

  22. Maria @ Scandifoodie says:

    Such an interesting way to bake bread! I’ve got to try this!

  23. domi says:

    Sésame…..mange moi

  24. Murasaki Shikibu says:

    It’s very interesting. However, people who live in areas with highly chlorinated water *might* have problems. I wonder….

    Did you find the texture of the bread or anything about it different from bread that didn’t rise in water?

    Very curious!

    • Joumana says:

      @Murasaki: This bread had a thick crust, which softened after a day or so; the texture was spongy and with uneven “holes” similar to the artisan breads I used to buy; now I will be making this at home!

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