The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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

subfuscpersona's picture

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

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?

If it would help, here is the tentative formula I'm working with (I've not actually made the bread yet so have no hands-on experience). The formula has 40% refreshed sourdough starter (100% hydration using commercial bread flour) and 15% whole grain flour. Bread flour is a commercial, unbleached white flour at about 12% protein.

Thanks in advance - SF

subfuscpersona's picture

Alas, no replies. Might as well highjack my own thread and use it to record my continuing efforts.

Formula posted on May 19, 2010 produced a sticky dough that was hard to shape. Hardly rose at all when baked. Very dense.

For try #2 I eliminated the oil and reduced the amount of flax seed and whole grain flour slightly. I also reduced the hydration.

I used King Arthur bread flour (14% protein) rather than Gold Medal bread flour (12% protein) in the final dough. I hoped this would help the dough rise higher during the bake.

Sharp-eyed readers (if there are any readers) may notice that I used whey (rather than plain water) as the liquid in the final dough. This may not have been the best choice. If enzymes in flax seed actually have the effect of inhibiting gluten development, increasing the overall dough acidity by using whey may exacerbate this.

An improvement overall, although the loaf was somewhat dense. Using a high protein bread flour in the final dough didn't help with the rise, so for my next attempt I'll stick to bread flour at about 12% protein for the levain and final dough


subfuscpersona's picture

Decided, after some cogitation, to convert recipe to instant dry yeast (IDY). Hot hot hot weather has discouraged me from baking freeform artisan bread, so this formula is for sandwich loaves.

After several trials and minor tweaks, developed a formula that uses a high percentage of biga preferment. Hydration was slightly decreased, as was the percent of flaxseed meal and salt (oddly enough, salt closer to the norm of about 2% of flour weight made the bread too salty for my taste). Amount of whole wheat flour was slightly increased. Am using finely milled hard white winter wheat (HWW) for the whole wheat flour.

This formula has performed reliably over 4 bakings and the loaves have been well received by neighbors who assist me in the testing process.

The biga is simply unbleached bread flour, water and a small amount of yeast at 67% hydration.

Biga Formula

Final formula

Flaxseed Sandwich Bread with Biga

I continue to use dairy whey if I have some on hand. The slight increase in dough acidity due to dairy whey does not adversely impact the dough and contributes to taste. Formula works equally well with tap water.

The high percentage of preferment contributes to complexity of taste. (Cribbed that idea from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread).

Halfway there to an answer to my original question. Around 7% - 8% flaxseed meal works well for dough made with IDY.

Next step: test using sourdough starter.

subfuscpersona's picture

Skip autolyse. Instead...

>combine biga & water

> mix salt & flax meal with bread flour

>mix IDY with whole wheat flour

>gradually add flour mixtures to biga/water mixture & knead

Notes on using dairy whey

Use tap water for biga. Dairy whey can be substituted for plain water in the final dough. (Using dairy whey in biga risks degrading the gluten, especially if a large batch of biga is made and then frozen in smaller packets).