The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stumped over flaxseed

Rose Run Lady's picture
Rose Run Lady

Stumped over flaxseed

My bread rises all gnarly-looking, and I'm stumped. Here are the ingredients, which I am careful to add in the correct order, at room temperature:

1/2 cup water; 3/4 cup evaporated milk; 2 tbsp. unsalted butter; 2 tbsp. honey; 1-1/2 tsps. salt; 1/3 cup oatmeal; 2 cups bread flour; 1 cup whole-wheat flour; 2-1/4 tsps. dry yeast; 1/2 cup flaxseed.

I have tried to solve the problem in all of the following ways:

Tried a different bread machine, plugged into a different electrical outlet;

Added flax at different times during the baking cycle--in initial mix, during first knead, during second knead, when machine beeps;

Tried fresh, organic flaxseed and boxed flaxseed;

Tried different brands of flour;

Tried fresher yeast from the organic grocery and packet yeast from the store;

Selected different bread settings on the breadmachine;

I'm convinced the problem is with the flaxseed, although my neighbor, an expert breadmaker, says this does not make sense.




LindyD's picture

You need to soak the flaxseed overnight to soften it, so it doesn't destroy the gluten.

You could try using placing the flaxseed in the 1/2 cup water the night before, and tightly covering the container so there's no evaporation. 

I'm not sure if that's sufficient water, though, as it will turn rather gelatinous.  Perhaps try 1/4 cup of flaxseed to 1/2 cup of water for a start. 

That 1/2 cup of water is from your original recipe, not an additional 1/2 cup.


mrfrost's picture

Are these whole flaxseed, or milled(ground)? If they are the whole seeds, try leaving them out. Make sure to adjust the dough to the same consistency with flour or water if required. If you still get the same "gnarly" loaf, it is likely the oats, even though there is no much of them. Oats can cause the surface texture you describe.

If it does turn out to be the oats, try soaking them in the recipe's liquid first. Maybe even warm or hot liquid, then cool to appropriate temp.

If it's the whole seeds, try using ground flax, to see if that helps, if you can't live with the texture.

It also could be that you just need to increase the hydration(liquids) just a bit, the let the dough rest a while, after the initial mixing but before the kneading.

Good luck.

Dragonbones's picture

Can you show us some pictures of the dough after mixing, after rising, after baking, and cut open after cooling? I'd like to see what you mean by gnarly. More details about your procedure and the consistency and stickiness of the dough might help, too. How long did you mix? Did you rest the dough after that, then knead? How long is the knead? Did you try a windowpane test to see if you've got good gluten development? How long and how much were the rises? The experts here can make a better diagnosis if you provide more info.

As for flax seeds, I add them all the time, whole, not soaked, and they never cause a problem. I'm probably only adding 1/4 c to a large boule. I think 1/2 c is a bit much for your recipe, but that's just my personal taste. I'd cut it to 1/4 in your recipe, but I don't think that is the reason for the problem.

mrfrost's picture

Oats, flax, who knows? Sometimes, that's just the way it turns out.

"...Because of its high oat content, this bread may have a slightly craggy surface, with minor hills and valleys in the top crust. Don't worry; that's the way it's supposed to look-rustic!..."

I imagine loaves baked in a bread machine are even more susceptible since they seem more likely to sink a little.

Rose Run Lady's picture
Rose Run Lady

Mr. Frost, By "gnarly," I meant that portions of the bread would rise and other portions wouldn't. So it ended up looking like Marty Feldman's face. My one friend commented, "I think I dated that guy once."

bonnie1345's picture

Your dough is too dry. Possible causes are moisture content of flour, atmosperic conditions of the area you live, or measuring by the scoop method instead of the spoon and level method. If measuring by scoop level try the spoon and level method. If you already measure your flour this way, then try reducing your bread flour by 2 tablespoons and your wheat flour by one tablespoon. Look at the dough during the knead process, if it isn't smooth and pliable then add a small amount of water teaspoon by teaspoon. Bread making isn't an exacting science. One of the problems with bread machines is their recipes are exact and no flour is the same, even same brand in same area.

AnnaInMD's picture

and it turned out gnarly too.  I suspect it is the flaxseed. Maybe next time I will soak it first, but the taste is very nice, perhaps a bit more salt.



cgmeyer2's picture

i use flaxseed in all my breads but i grind it first. humans have trouble digesting whole flaxseed & in order to benefit from the omega fatty acids you need to grind it first. i also supplement with wheat germ & bran.

i use my bread machine to knead my dough & the first rise. while the dough is initially kneading i watch it carefully. i usually need to add more water but i only add a tblsp at a time.

i am baking all my breads in the oven now using a claypot since we like the texture better.

hope this helps, claudia

Rose Run Lady's picture
Rose Run Lady

At the suggestion of several readers, I reduced the flaxseed to 1/3 cup and soaked it in water.  I placed it in a colander afterward and sprayed it off with water to remove as much of the gelatinous liquid as possible. Then I added the flaxseed at the beginning, while reducing the added water to 1/3 cup.

The bread turned out perfect!

Thanks very much!  Everyone was so helpful, except for one or two condescending replies.

melbournebread's picture

I just wanted to add that my favourite bread machine loaf uses whole flax seeds and turns out fine without having to grind or soak them.  But then I noticed just how much flax seed you use!  My recipe only has 3 tablespoons flax seeds, although it's for a smaller loaf.  So I'm glad that less flax seed worked out for you!

If anyone's interested, this is the recipe I use.  I makes a nice light, nutty-flavoured seed loaf.  Even better if you do a preferment the day before.  Recipe is from

3 Seed Loaf

3 tablespoons flax seed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
185g bread flour
5 tablespoons wholemeal flour
1 1/4 teaspoons dried active baking yeast