The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

flax seed

dabrownman's picture

After seeing David's  post earlier this week  about his experiment with using old dough vs a levain to make bread here "Old Dough" vs. Natural Levain ....... my apprentice just knew she hat to put her 4 cents in and replicate the experiment to see if we came out with would match David's bake.  Plus it was going to be fun because we haven’t used old dough to make bread for a very long time and had forgotten how good a no fuss job it could do.


Old dough is the way commercial bakers, as opposed to home bakers that baked smaller quantities and used levain, made all of their breads before 1870 or so when the Fleischmann brothers perfected their first commercial yeasts.


We didn’t have any old dough after bulk ferment to use so we decided to make a 125 g old dough from scratch.  We first did a formula that we would use for the levain dough and then scaled everything back from the larger dough weight to the little, what would become, old dough.  Spreadsheets really helped in this regard. 


Once we had everything together using the exact same ingredients that would be in the levain bread, we developed the little dough ball just like we would the larger one later.  We did an autolyse of 3 hours, added the tiny whole grain starter, salt, other flours and water and did 3 finger one hand tied behind the back French slap and folds until the gluten was well developed and the dough satin smooth.


After a 15 minute rest we did (3) S & F’s on 15 minute intervals and then let it ferment on the counter for 1 hour before refrigerating for 12 hours where it rose very well by doubling.  The next morning, while the old dough and the 125 g of the same levain were coming up to room temperature, we autolysed the dough with the salt, flour and water for the levain bread exactly as we had done the little old dough the previous day. 


Then before the levain went in we cut off half the autolyse for the old dough.  After that each dough was treated the same, together at the same times, yet separate .  The same - yet separate would make a good book title for a story about twins separated at birth.  Back to baking.


After the 10 minutes of French Slap and folds and the 15 minutes rest, the (3) sets of French slap and folds were done between  15 minute rest increments.  The Janet inspired bulgar and flax seed scalded mash was incorporated on the 2nd fold and fully distributed by the 3rd fold.


Each dough was allowed to ferment on the counter for an hour before being bulk retarded in a 38 F fridge for 18 hours.  After removing them from the cold, the dough balls had doubled in the fridge, they were allowed to come to room temperature for 1 ½ hours on a heating pad set to low.  Each was then formed into a boule and placed in like sized baskets even though one was more of an oval shape.


The baskets were placed in a nearly new trash can liner and placed back on the heating pad for a 78 F proofing.  After 2 hours, Old Betsy was fired up to 450 F with two DO inside, one a CI Martha Stewart and one was the Magnalite MagnaWare Turkey roaster.  Since the turkey roaster has a trivet insert that allows extra water to be put in for steam, we used the bottom of our spring form pan to raise up the bread off the bottom so extra water could be placed in it too.


Once the baking temperature was reached we un-molded each from the basket, slashed them and placed them into the hot DO’s with a parchment sling.  These smallish 525 g breads were baked 18 minutes with steam then the lids were removed and the temperature turned down to 425 F, convection this time.


The bread was baked another 5 minutes before being removed from the DO’s and rotated 180 degrees on the stone now.  The darker bread was done in 5 more minutes at 205 F on the inside and it was removed to a cooling rack,  The lighter colored bread was baked another 3 minutes before it too hit 205 F and we left this one on the stone with the oven off and door ajar for 5 minutes.

The darker colored boule spread more the lighter oval one.  The lighter oval rose and sprang higher and had a slightly softer and less open crumb but they were very close crumb wise.  The darker bread had more and bigger blisters.  The one in the WagnerWare turkey roaster was the lighter bread and we do not know why because nothing has been able to put crust on bread better than it does – except this time.


There is no question that one had a better more complex and deeper sour flavor just like David's bake and it was the one that used old dough too!  The difference in taste was definitely there and easy to decipher.   I’m would be using  this old dough technique  on bread from now on…… except that I forgot to hold back from this bake - darn…..typical the apprentice didn’t bark out a word of warning either!

So which one is old dough?  It’s the one that tastes the best and they both are great breads - some of the best we have made to date.   Let’s see who can guess the taste winner by looking.


Old Dough VS Levain Multigrain SD With Bulgar and Flax Seed Scald











Build 1

Build 2



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Levain % of Total










Dough Flour





Dark Rye





Whole Wheat





Potatoe Flakes




















Dough Flour




















Dough Hydration










Total Flour





Total Water





T. Dough Hydration





Whole Grain %










Hydration w/ Adds





Total Weight










Add - Ins





Red Rye Malt





White Rye Malt










VW Gluten




















Flax Seed










Total Scald










subfuscpersona's picture

Soak OR grind flax seed for bread?

November 14, 2011 - 6:31am -- subfuscpersona

When adding flax seed to bread, is it better to grind it into a meal (using an electric coffee mill) OR soak it in water?

Which method makes the flax seed nutrients more bioavailable? Which method better reduces the tendency of flax to interfere with gluten development?

I've spent countless hours searching the web with no definitive answer. Here's the gist of what I've found...

ehanner's picture

It's funny how things come together some times. Katie, one of Andy's students in college developed this recipe that Karin (a German baker transplanted to Maine) baked and posted last week. It was a beautiful loaf. About the same time a new poster from Iceland ( Schrödinger's O...) presented a beautiful bread with a natural expansion instead of slashing. I decided to try my own nut brown ale since it is very flavor rich and semi dark and, available. I also added a small amount of toasted wheat germ to add a little dimension to the chew and flavor.

I first must say to Katie I think your bread is wonderful. It has a full depth of flavor and a great aftertaste. Your hydration and baking times were right on for me. Thank you so much for sharing your creative energy. also a word of thanks must go to Andy, for bringing this talent forward for us to see and enjoy her work. And Karin for her inspiration and conformation the recipe can be baked out of scale. It's always nice to see her work. Then comes -kristjan, who showed us a beautiful boule he has been baking for some time and shared with us only that day. I was so inspired that I tried a shaping and natural expansion I had been wanting to try instead of scoring to see if I could bring some art to the surface of this loaf. So, here is my take on Katie's Stout with Flax Seeds.

breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hi everybody,

Sorry haven't been around posting much.  I have been baking, but on a much smaller and less often scale these days, and blogging much less...  I'm pretty much swamped at work these days...  Yesterday evening though, I did find some time to bake a little something...



BostonMaria's picture

No-Knead whole wheat and flaxseed

March 10, 2011 - 12:51pm -- BostonMaria

Hello everyone -

I took Lahey's No-Knead recipe for Pane Integral, and experimented with it a little bit. I used 2 cups of whole wheat and 1 cup bread flour and 1/4 cup of flax seed. The water, salt, and yeast amounts are the same.

Everything looked pretty much identical to the 100% bread flour recipe, but when I baked it in the Dutch oven the center of the loaf is sunken. The taste is and the crust is crunchy, but I'm not sure why the center of the bread didn't rise (or maybe it fell?).  Any ideas?

subfuscpersona's picture

How Much Flax Seed Meal Can I Add To a Sourdough Formula?

May 19, 2010 - 6:23pm -- subfuscpersona

I would like to add coarsely ground flax seed meal to a sourdough bread dough. I have read that too much flax seed meal can adversely affect gluten development (due to enzymes in the flax seed).

What would be a recommended amount in baker's percent? How high could I go?

JeremyCherfas's picture

Don't soak linseed (flax seeds)

March 10, 2010 - 12:09pm -- JeremyCherfas

Just a word of warning: don't soak flax seeds!

I was making my standard 33% wholewheat pagnotta with a pasta madre leaven and had run out of sesame seeds. I normally add about 100 gm of mixed pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds to the dough. So I used linseed instead, but without even thinking poured hot water over all the seeds to soak them. I know linseed goes all mucilaginous in liquids. But somehow I forgot.

Shauna Lorae's picture

Sunflower, Poppy, Flax Seed Bread

March 6, 2010 - 10:31pm -- Shauna Lorae

I found this loaf as I was browsing through Bob's Red Mill Recipes and I thought it sounded like an amazing base for a tuna salad sandwich...

Here is the link to the recipe:

This loaf was a high riser and the three different seeds are as visually pleasing as they are delicious looking...

Doc Tracy's picture

Whole grain high fiber sourdough pancakes

December 23, 2009 - 5:35am -- Doc Tracy

Yes, sounds gross, disgusting, unless you like whole grains. But, actually I've fed my WG pancakes to white pancake eaters who won't touch whole grains and they've loved it! Today I decided I didn't want to throw away my yummy baby starter so I incorporated it into my usually non-SD pancakes. (haven't made pancakes since before I was baking with SD)

Here it is:

mcs's picture

OK, I know you're out there.  Maybe those Birks are getting dusty or they're hidden in the closet along with your beaded vest and shrunken tie-dye, but you're really hankerin' for some good ol' fashioned hippie bread.  Just like the kind you used to eat while working on your macrame choker and groovin' to Cat Stevens before he became public enemy number one.  Here you go.
A friend of mine was looking for something all-too-healthy, and I came up with this recipe.  It is primarily whole wheat with buckwheat flour, flax seeds, toasted almonds, and other goodies.  It's not exactly airy like ciabatta, but it sure has a lot of flavor.  Plus, if you need to, you can put some loaves over your wheels in the bed of your truck in the wintertime to get some extra traction.  I've tried a few different shapes, and the boule seems to help the loaf out the most because you can give it some height in the shaping for a boost of confidence in the proofing stage.  Try it out and hope you like it!  This is a link to the recipe in PDF format.


PS, I'm about 2 weeks from finishing a couple of instructional DVDs. If you're interested, I can email you when they're ready, or you can stay tuned here since I'll be posting about it on TFL when they're done.


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