The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Don't soak linseed (flax seeds)

JeremyCherfas's picture

Don't soak linseed (flax seeds)

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.

The problem came when I tried to fold the seeds into the dough. The slime prevented the dough from coming together around the seeds, and the seeds kept breaking through the surface. So I gave up and just amalgamated as best as I could, then allowed the loaf to rise in a cloth-lined basket. It stuck more than usual to the cloth. But it baked up beautifully and tasted pretty good, with lodes of seeds running through the crumb. I wouldn't do it again, but I'm glad I didn't just throw it out.


ananda's picture

Hi Jeremy,

Soaked flax seeds are actually a really great idea in dough.   But, you are right it would be very difficult to add them to a dough which was already formed.   There really should not be any issue with adding them when first mixing the dough.

I appreciate that some people avoid adding sunflower, or, pumpkin seeds early in mixing, to prevent damaging the gluten, but I don't think this applies to small seeds such as flax, poppy, or, sesame

I am sure soaked flax seeds will really help with the uptake of water in the final dough: this is why the soaker is so popular.

Best wishes,


dmsnyder's picture

Hi Jeremy.

Sesame seeds and flax seeds are different critters, for sure, but I don't think "don't soak linseed (flax seeds)" is the correct conclusion.

Flax seeds need soaking (or grinding) to release their beneficial nutrients, from all I've read. They are wonderful when soaked in adding texture and flavor to breads. I have used them as the sole seed in doughs and as part of a multi-seed and grain soaker.

It sounds like you over-dosed on them. The take away lesson isn't don't soak flax seeds, I'd suggest. It's that too high a proportion makes for a difficult dough to handle.

I appreciate the caveat.


JeremyCherfas's picture

I too use flax seeds as the sole seed in many doughs, most notably one of Dan lepard's, and they're fine. If you add flour to the soaked seeds, or dry seeds to the dry flour, everything is just fine. My point was simply that it is very difficult to mix soaked flax seeds into an already made dough.

The point is timing, not quantity, for me.


janij's picture

I use soaked flax seeds all the time in multigrain.  What i do is mix the soaker with the water first, then add the flour and other ingredients.  That was you can break the seed mass up first.

cgmeyer2's picture

i always grind my flax seed b4 adding to a recipe. i also use ground flax seed on my yogurt. it's an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids.


JeremyCherfas's picture

That's fine, Claudia, but the reason I add flax seeds is not for omega 3s or anything like that, but for taste and texture, and you lose that by grinding.