Multigrain Nigella Seed Sourdough

After taking an inventory of my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and finding no fewer than 19 flours, 13 other grain products, 8 seeds, and 7 nuts, I decided I had better start using some of this stuff up.

I made a variation on my seeded multigrain sourdough, using up my remaining pumpkin seeds, some of my flax seeds and rolled rye flakes,  and what I thought was just a few of a little black seed called nigella. The package was opened, so I must have used them before, but I’ll be damned if I know what for. I certainly didn’t remember what a punch they packed. Although these tiny black seeds are in the minority weight-wise (and although the other ingredients do add flavor complexity), their peppery taste is front and center in this bread.

Despite their assertiveness, if I weren’t so prone to shooting first and asking questions later, I might have used even more of these seeds in my bread, because they have been reported to heal every disease except death. That’s a confident statement if I ever heard one. But now that I think about it, I’m feeling pretty chipper right about now.

Serving suggestion: Roast beef sandwich; skip the horseradish.

I’m sending this bread to Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cindystar, managed by Cook Almost Anything, and founded by Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Multigrain Nigella Seed Sourdough

Yield: 1000 g (2 loaves)


  • Soak soaker: 30 minutes
  • Mix final dough: 10 minutes
  • First fermentation : 2.5 hours with folds at 50 and 100 minutes
  • Preshape, rest, and shape: 35 minutes
  • Proof: 2.5 – 3 hours
  • Bake: 45 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 78F

Soaker Ingredients:

  • 28 g nigella seeds
  • 34 g rye flakes
  • 39 g pumpin seeds
  • 33 g golden flax seeds
  • 86 g water

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • 240 g flour
  • 93 g whole wheat flour
  • 41 g coarsely-ground rye flour
  • 227 g water
  • 9.4 g salt
  • 169 g active 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • All of the soaker


  1. In a bowl, combine the soaker ingredients. Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine all of the final dough ingredients except the soaker, holding back a small amount of the water. Mix in low speed to incorporate the ingredients. Adjust the water as needed to achieve a medium dough consistency.
  3. Continue mixing to a medium level of gluten development.
  4. Add the soaker and mix in low speed until it is evenly distributed through the dough.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment for 2.5 hours, with folds after the first 50 and 100 minutes.
  6. Turn the dough into a lightly floured counter. Divide into 2 pieces. Preshape into balls and let rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
  7. Shape the dough into pointed batards and place them, seam-side-up, in a floured couche.
  8. Proof, covered, for 2.5 – 3 hours, until the indentation left by a fingertip springs back slowly.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 500F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  10. Just before baking, slash with one or two slashes along the long axis of each loaf.
  11. Once the loaves are in the oven, reduce the temperature to 450F. Bake for 10 minutes with steam, and another 25 minutes or so without steam. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for another 10 minutes, with the door ajar.
  12. Cool on a wire rack.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. cinzia says

    thank you very much, susan, for this fabulous bread!
    I read news about nigella seeds on wikipedia, they sound delicious and incredible healing.
    when I was in rome last spring I bought some black seeds named “black sesame” but in truth they have not the same shape and size … maybe I have nigella and do not know! I have only used them for topping, never inside, but your bread is so inviting I shall give a try!

  2. Janie says

    Yay – it’s so nice to see one of my favorite little seeds featured, and I will definitely have to try this bread! I ‘ve always known nigella as “kalonji” and have used it for years in a deep-fried crispy Indian dough that is dear to our hearts. I’ll send you a note with the recipe and will include a wonderful flatbread recipe with nigella, too, if I can locate it. Thank you, Susan!

  3. judd says

    Great looking breads….
    Nigella is a great garden plant that is used in English gardens/borders…also sometimes called…love in the mist….
    It is an annal that tends to self seed at will…be careful…
    it has a mind of it’s own….

  4. Janknitz says

    I didn’t like caraway at first, and I was told that nigella seeds were also traditional in Jewish Rye Breads instead of caraway. Penzey’s just opened locally and I bought my first ounce of them but haven’t baked with them yet. They taste somewhat bitter on their own.

  5. says

    At first i thought this was something to do with the British chef Nigella Lawson, but now i realise it is actually Nigella seeds. I have not come across these before. I look forward to trying it out.

  6. says

    This bread looks like the ones sold at pastry shops here. Nigella seed is an ingredient I use often on top of pastries, even in salads. And I bought a package of flax seed to try it fro the first time. So this will be the recipe in which I will combine old and new. I am planning to replace water with warm milk. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. says

    Funny, I was just doing some number crunching and I have a bag of 9grains…lets see if I got my spreadsheet in order! Excellent loaf…nigella is really assertive…great for bagels or something that takes in and absorbs the shock!
    Nice work Susan!


  8. says

    Hi Susan!
    This bread reminds me of the bread we buy from a Western bakery that my family used to frequent when we lived in Shanghai. You can’t find this bread anywhere else because bakeries in the US just don’t make them anymore. I am going to try my hand at making this for my mommy. Thanks for such a great recipe. Sincerely, Julie.

  9. says

    Always learning here at Wild Yeast. This is the first time I hear about these seeds and obviously, I’m already plotting when to bake with them. These loaves are so gorgeous, the shape, the slash, the crumb – just perfect all around.
    Susan, I hope you can answer my question. I recently came across this container for the sourdough starter (link here: – the last image of the post) while browsing the net and am curious what the addition of the apple peel does to the culture. In what way will it “balance the mini biosystem”? Can you explain? Many thanks. Gosia

  10. says

    Gosia, unfortunately, I really can’t. Although many starter recipes call for adding fruit or fruit peels of one sort or another, everything I have learned about sourdough says that fruit is unnecessary to produce a vigorous starter. The yeast we’re interested in are the ones that thrive on grain (i.e., flour), not on fruit. I’m aware that people have had wonderful success with starters that include fruit, and I do think that everyone should do what works for them. I’ve just never seen the need to use anything but flour and water in my starter.

  11. says

    Thank you very much for the reply. I’m relieved to know that my sourdough starter has been happy without “fruit on the side” for all these years. You’re absolutely right, whatever works.

  12. Joy says


    If I use wholemeal spelt in place of the bread flour, do you reckon this will make the finished product too heavy?


  13. Paula Brown says

    I made these loaves yesterday. I used organic hard red wheat ground in my new little nutrimill stone grinder. Same with the rye flour. I purchased organic white flour for the rest. This bread was amazing. It is our new favourite and could be responsible for my husband and I gaining 10 lbs over the next 10 days. Crispy-chewy on the outside and light and tasty on the inside. Most of the loaves I have made so far have been doorstops. This one is a winner, which is why I’m making it again today. Thank you for a great recipe.


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