Filed under: Breads
January 10, 2023

Zaatar Quinoa & Turmeric Sourdough

Artisan homemade sourdough bread with a twist of spice: turmeric, earthy zaatar and toasted quinoa. 

5 from 1 vote
Yield: 1 loaf
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Artisan homemade sourdough bread with a twist of spice: turmeric, earthy zaatar and toasted quinoa. 


Recipe overview 


This one is inspired by a bread from a local bakery in DC that I am obsessed with; they call it Turmeric Quinoa Bread and I often get it with a spread of labneh and a sprinkle of zaatar on top. It’s packed with savory flavors and aromas I grew up with and feels like home, except instead of on a flatbread it’s made as a loaf. 


Now that we’ve moved away and I can’t come home with a whole loaf anymore, I started making it at home. They describe it as, “Made with toasted quinoa, turmeric, black pepper, Za’atar, sea salt and honey” and from there I came up with my own mix. 


A few years ago, I copied the flavors to make a challah-like bread, but I think these flavors lend themselves better to a bread that’s not sweet and now that I have my own starter I use the blend to make sourdough loaves. 


It’s a really wonderful savory bread, packed with flavor but also has that lovely homey sourdough undertone. The turmeric gives it a bright, almost neon color, the zaatar an earthy taste and the toasted quinoa a little crisp. Perfect for sandwiches, soup dippings… or maybe spread with labneh with a sprinkle of more zaatar 😉 


Recipe Ingredients 


Starter: You’ll need starter fed 6-12 hours earlier, when it’s nice and bubbly and passes the float test. 


Bread Flour: For a chewy, sturdy sourdough bread flour is best. I use KAB. 


Water: Depending on how long you want to do the first rise you’ll adjust your water temperature. I use cool water in the recipe below but if you want to lengthen the first rise you can use very cold water. I’d avoid warm water that will activate things too quickly and sacrifice much of the flavor built in the process. 


Quinoa: I use red quinoa, I like that you can spot the bits in the bread but you can also use white or a mix. 


Turmeric: This adds some flavor but it’s most obvious contribution is color, turning the milky white of the loaf into a bright, almost neon yellow. 


Zaatar: See below notes on where to buy and how to make your own if you can’t find it. 


Sea salt: If you usually use kosher salt for a loaf of sourdough you can adjust accordingly, bearing in mind that some zaatars are a bit salty so you might want to use a tad less. 



Make your own Zaatar mix 

Real zaatar is made with wild thyme that grows in Palestine and other parts of the Levant, it’s not readily accessible here in the states. To find the good stuff I’d go to a local ‘middle eastern’ store and look for a palestinian brand but if you don’t have one nearby you can make your own blend; it’s not nearly as lovely as the real stuff but is quite tasty if you don’t compare the two. 


For this recipe the ‘homemade zaatar mix’ I make is: 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, 1 tsp sumac, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried thyme. 


Notes on making this Zaatar, Quinoa & Turmeric Sourdough 

I’m going to walk you through my process of making sourdough below in the instructions. I mostly follow the method outlined in Tartine, and I’m going into this assuming you have made sourdough before and have some experience working with a starter. If you are just beginning your sourdough journey I’d suggest mastering a basic loaf first (read, study Tartine!). This guide is also incredibly helpful.


Zaatar, Turmeric & Quinoa Sourdough Bread Recipe 


Zaatar Quinoa & Turmeric Sourdough

Artisan sourdough bread with a twist of spice: turmeric, earthy zaatar and toasted quinoa.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Rest Time: 8 hours
Yields: 1 loaf
5 from 1 vote


  • cup quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons zaatar* see above if making your own mix
  • 500 g bread flour
  • 380 g room temperature-cool water
  • 90 g starter fed
  • A couple of twists of freshly ground black pepper


  • First, set the quinoa in a large frying pan and turn the heat to medium. Cook for a few minutes, tossing now and then, until the grains become fragrant (they might pop a bit). Transfer to a bowl to cool down.
  • Stir the leaven (starter) into the water in a large glass bowl. Add the bread flour, salt, zaatar, turmeric black pepper and honey and mix. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Pour the quinoa into the bowl and give the dough a “turn”: wet your fingers and dip them under the dough, then lift and stretch it up and fold it over the dough. Do this a few times until the dough starts to resist.
  • Cover and rest for another 30 minutes, then do another turn.
  • Do two more turns, with a 30 minutes resting period between each for a total of four turns.
  • After the last turn, let it rest for thirty minutes. You’re at the 3.5 hour mark now and the dough should have relaxed and increased in volume by about 30% and there will be air bubbles at the sides and bottom (you can see them if you have the dough in a glass or clear bowl).
  • Flour the countertop and place the dough (dry side down) on the counter. Fold it over itself a few times, carefully to not knock out much gas or air bubbles, and set it, now dry side up.
  • Tuck your hands under the dough and move it in a twist (the video below helps here) rotating and rounding it into a tight ball.
  • Turn the bowl upside down over the dough and let it rest (bench rest) for about 30 minutes. The dough will relax and spread outward to create a flatter circle.
  • Repeat the process of rotating and rounding the dough into a tighter circle.
  • Set a flour sack or liner over the brotform and place the dough dry side down into it. Use your fingers to pinch the dough together into a line.
  • I tend to split my final rise with some at room temp and some in the fridge: 1-3 hours at room temp (lesser amount in the summer) and 8 in the fridge. You can do 12 hours in the fridge or 3-4 hours at room temperature.
  • Place the dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 500 F. It's best to wait another 20 minutes after the preheat before you bake to get the oven really hot, but you can proceed if you are in a time pinch.
  • Place the dough on a sheet of round parchment paper and score with a sharp paring knife (I do one crescent slit on the underside). Set in the dutch oven and cover. Lower the temperature to 450 F.
  • Bake with the lid on for 20 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes (you can go longer for a darker crust).
  • Remove from the oven and out of the pan. Let cool for at least 2-4 hours before slicing.

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Recipe Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for the recipe! After four years of making sourdough I still haven’t got a handle on oven spring, but despite being over or underproofed, this came out wonderful. Moist, easy to slice, delicious. I used leftover cooked quinoa and fresh turmeric in addition to powdered. I also doubled it to make two loaves, but I probably could have done 1.5x for two loaves. My banetons were too small for this huge dough.

  2. This recipe sounds amazing! I love the idea of adding turmeric, zaatar, and quinoa to a sourdough bread. The bread sounds like it would be perfect for sandwiches, soup dipping and more. I also appreciate the notes on how to make your own zaatar mix and the advice for those who are new to making sourdough bread. I will definitely be giving this recipe a try in the near future. Thanks for sharing!