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Flaxseed Heaven (sourdough, of course!)


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For PDF format see here: Discovering Sourdough


Flaxseed is a wonderful addition to bread. I toast mine and then pour water over it while it is still jumping in the pan like a Mexican jumping bean. This will bring out the mucilaginous property of the seeds and help produce moist, flavorful bread that stays fresh longer.

I have been busy for a while, getting my life on track, and I have not been able to bake much lately. So today I am very happy! I am baking!! I am baking sourdough!! What is more fun?.. no don’t answer that, just trust me it is very fun!

I started this batch last night. I wanted to do an overnight bulk ferment at room temperature. This way of bulk fermenting is great because you leave your dough out overnight at room temperature. The next morning when you go to shape it, it is warm, lively dough, not cold, dead feeling dough like it is when your retard it overnight in your refrigerator.

Flaxseed Heaven

The evening before (I started at 7:00 pm) baking, prepare your dough:

  • 3 oz/85g whole flaxseed (I used the light colored seeds), toast these in a heavy bottom skillet until they jump like popcorn or jumping beans 🙂
  • Next, pour over the hot seeds all at once: 11 oz/311g oz water

Set this mixture aside to cool while you prepare the first stage of the dough:

In your mixing bowl add together:

  • 4 oz/113g vigorous starter @ 100% hydration (fed that morning)
  • 12 oz/340g water
  • 16 oz/453g of good quality bread flour (I have yet to find bread flour better than Morbread by Pendleton Mills in Oregon, for the home baker)

Mix these three ingredients together and expect the dough to be somewhat stiff but still sticky. Allow the dough to autolyse for 30 minutes. When the dough is this thick the gluten bonds well, you should have some great development in your dough after the 30 minutes of autolyse is done.

After autolyse, combine the seed/water mixture and add :

  • .6 oz/17g salt

Using a mixer on low speed or your hands, mix the stiff dough, the seed/water mixture and the salt together until well incorporated. Then add:

  • 10 oz /283g bread flour

Mix the flour in well. Then cover the bowl of dough well and let it set out overnight at room temperature (I did fold the dough twice before I went to bed).

Now you will be shocked but this dough formula makes 3 lbs 8.6 oz/ 1604g of dough @ 80.6% hydration!!! Wow! It is a sham though, because the seeds soaked up a great deal of the water. The dough is more sticky than usual dough because of the mucilage of the seeds.

It should be a sticky wet dough that still is very easy to handle if you handle it correctly. Keep your fingers wet, spray the working surface with water or oil and handle the dough quickly, keeping your hands clean. The dough feels wonderful with great gluten development by morning.

In the morning (7 a.m. for me) divide the dough into two pieces. Shape boules and place them in bannetons. I staggered the shaping of the second boule  30 minutes after the first. These boules took almost 3.5 hours to proof.

I had my oven and stone preheated to 450F and put in my roasting pan lid to preheat a few minutes before the first loaf went in. When the first loaf was ready (this dough did not show a lot of bubbly activity, it was somewhat quiet and slow to rise), I slashed the dough once, placed it on the hot stone, then sprayed the loaf once all over and placed the hot roasting lid over it. I baked it this way for 20  minutes. Then I took off the lid and allowed the loaf to brown for 15 more minutes, turning it during the baking time so it would brown evenly. Remove and cool loaf. Then repeat the baking with the second loaf.

This bread is super yummy! The crumb is moist and custardy and is full of lovely holes. The smell and taste of roasted flax seeds permeates the whole loaf and is delicious. This would make great sandwich bread if the mayo didnt fall out (I don’t like mayo anyway, I prefer to use Caesar salad dressing instead of mayo, tastes much better!).

Now I am happy!


You really need to try this…..

To learn how to bake more breads like this, consider joining my sourdough baking course here:Real Artisan Sourdough Baking. It is self paced and you can go back and access it for the rest of your life. How cool is that?

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  1. Liz Liz
    March 30, 2011    

    Your bread looks amazing. I have been looking for ways to incorporate those healthful seeds into my diet. However, whole seeds are not digested. Eating whole seeds doesn’t give you the health benefits. Does the toasting and soaking of the seeds make them digestible? Thanks so much.

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      March 30, 2011    

      Hi Liz, Perhaps some of the nutrients are leached out during the process, however, if you wish the full benefit, you could grind them first. They would still offer fiber benefits and the bread looks pretty this way, much like using sesame seeds. I often grind flaxseeds to add to my bread.

    • Greg H. Greg H.
      April 8, 2011    

      It seems that eating (which involves chewing ;-)) will make at least some of the seeds digestible, no?

  2. Liz Liz
    March 30, 2011    

    Thanks so much.

  3. wayne thomas wayne thomas
    March 31, 2011    

    Looks great.
    Was starter hydration 100% ?

    thanks — wayne
    PS: I love baking your Basic White 100% starter in my Romertopf clay baker. Makes great sandwich bread.

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      March 31, 2011    

      Oops! I seem to forget that often. Yes it is 100% and I will correct it, thanks!

  4. charlotte charlotte
    April 1, 2011    

    hmmmm. I always toast mine, but never thought of pouring water over it. I’m gonna try that!

  5. April 2, 2011    

    Beauty! Amazing open crumb.

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      April 3, 2011    

      Thanks Susan, I sure would have liked to taste your brioches! They looked terrific!

  6. April 6, 2011    

    Great work, looks delicious, definitely try as soon as i get all the ingredients.

  7. tonyk tonyk
    April 23, 2011    



  8. May 9, 2011    

    “Yes! This bread is super yummy! The crumb is moist and custardy and is full of lovely holes. It’s just as you described, the loaves are awesome and my slashes formed beautiful gringes on both Batards.

    The dough was sticky as you said. I had no trouble handling the sticky dough most of my bread recipe are sticky anyway.

    George Foreman Grill—found a brand new grill at a thrift store. I bought it to grill my chili peppers and bell peppers with. One day I thought this grill would be perfect for toasting seeds. And I have been using ever since.

    Flax Seed Tip—try toasting the seeds in a small George Foreman Grill. It’s the perfect tool for toasting any kind of seeds.

    Most George Foreman Grills—are not level so place a bar across the front legs to level the grill. Then you can toast your seeds beautifully. Use a brush to stir the seed every now then.

    Shaped two French Batards, as I was shaping the dough it felt super light, like it was filling up with scads of air bubbles, but as they were proofing the dough began to slack, it look like it had no body, it kept rising, but it wasn’t doming. I was not very pleased at this point.

    Once I removed the roasting lid, I was in for a shocker! The Batard had risen and domed with the most beautiful gringes. It also felt very light upon removing it from the oven. Upon slicing the bread in the morning sure enough, it was laced with light airy holes.

    I live at 5,000 ft—so, I had to add more flour and increase the salt a few more grams, that was it. As for the holes I need to be selective as to which slices I add jam or honey too. “Wow! This bread make good sandwich bread and toast. Just watch out for drips from the holes.

    At 5,000 ft elevation—it took 2 1/2 hours for the dough to proof.

    Used Montana Natural Premium White All-Purpose Whole Wheat Flour.

    Flax Seeds–as for grinding the seeds I wouldn’t grind. “Why! After I had soaked the seeds I could not not believe how thick the (water / seed) mixture got. My goodness if you grind the seeds it would be pretty hard to mix into the dough. I believe you would have a paste so thick you couldn’t begin to knead it into the dough without over mixing. Anyway that’s my thought about the seeds.

    SUPER BREAD–With the amount of seeds used in this recipe it’s makes a (Super Bread). You get a good dose of omega fatty acids every time you eat a slice, and it’s wonderful for anyone wanting to loose weight. It’s also brain food too. Best of all its a keeper, I’ll be baking this bread weekly.

    I’m mixing up another batch of starter. I need to burn about 10 more pounds of fat. This is the perfect bread recipe, its loaded with scads of super nutritional values to help burn fat.
    “Just what I needed!

    Thank You, Teresa


  9. Clara Clara
    May 28, 2011    

    Hey Teresa,

    I discovered your blog and your sour-dough recipe-site when surfing the net for finding great sourdough recipes – and since I found your sites, my bread has certainly improved. Before trying sourdough-bread, I used to bake yeast-bread, but the taste was too “flat” and the structure wasn’t quite inspiring.

    But I still have some trouble with the bread getting a bit flatter and denser than intended. And the taste is a bit too “unrefined” – meaning that I tastes too much of rye-flour, and not bread-like enough.

    So my questions are:

    How can I improve those two problems?
    And when you write, “sourdough @ 100% hydration”, which kind of flour did you use for the sourdough?

    Thank you so much in advance!

    ~ Clara (from Scandinavia)

  10. northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
    May 31, 2011    

    I use whatever flour is needed for the type of starter I am using. I use white flour either ap or bread for a white starter, I use rye flour for a rye starter and whole wheat for a whole grain wheat starter.

    Follow the formula and timing of the recipe as close as you can the first time you try it, you might have bettter results.

  11. elizabeth elizabeth
    March 2, 2012    

    I’d like to add some whole wheat. Have you tried this with part ww flour?

    • Ken Jordan Ken Jordan
      April 13, 2012    

      I have 4kg of dough of Flaxseed Heaven, 2kg BF and 2kg whole wheat (40%). They look super just halfway through a 24 hour fridge ferment. Tomorrow I will know how they do. No reason to think they won’t be fabulous.

  12. elizabeth elizabeth
    March 2, 2012    

    Do you toast the flax to give it more flavor?

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      April 13, 2012    

      Hi Elizabeth, yes I do!

  13. MC MC
    April 8, 2012    

    Teresa, you have got another winner here! The bread is beautiful. I too had never heard of pouring water over the flaxseeds while they are still jumping in the pan. What a terrific idea. One way to solve the nutrition quandary is to halve the quantity of seeds and use flax meal for the other half. I prefer the golden flaxseeds as well. i find the red ones sometimes lend a “fishy” taste to the bread…

    • northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
      April 13, 2012    

      I like the golden ones as well, milder flavor, easier to hide in the bread and muffins so my kids don’t notice. Good idea on the ground flax, I do add ground flax to lots of my baked goods.

  14. Ken Jordan Ken Jordan
    April 9, 2012    

    I took a huge chance on a brand-new starter I made using milk kefir whey. I normally use Oregon Trail 1847 but what beautiful loaves. I am so anxious to slice into them but they are waiting to cool.
    My tropical temperatures didn’t allow the overnight ferment so I did a fridge ferment and baked the next afternoon. The first rise took 2.5 hours and the final ferment only 1.5 hours.
    Incredible rise and amazing gringe. I love the idea of toasting and soaking the flaxseed. This page will be bookmarked for sure!
    Thanks so much Teresa!

    • Ken Jordan Ken Jordan
      April 13, 2012    

      These loaves were a screaming success. An Aussie friend told me it was the best bread they had ever eaten. It was so good, he didn’t want vegemite on it! That was a compliment. All complements to you Theresa. Terrific bread.

  15. northwestsourdough northwestsourdough
    April 13, 2012    

    Thanks Ken, the reason why I pour water over hot seeds is that it liberates the mucilaginous properties of the seeds and contributes to a light airy, moist crumb. I am happy you and your friends like it so much.

  16. Talia Talia
    December 8, 2012    

    I am wondering if using half whole wheat and half rye flour or perhps all spelt will give the same results – I try not to use any white flour or brad flour at all.

  17. January 19, 2013    

    Great looking bread! Even though the whole flax seeds do not add a lot of nutrients, the fibers are good for a healthy digestion. And they look so pretty.
    Though I retard my doughs in the fridge overnight, I remove them 2 hours before shaping the breads, so that they are already warmed up not to feel uncomfortably cold.

  18. Tyler J Tyler J
    June 11, 2013    

    I was never into baking until I discovered sourdough and started experimenting with muffins and cookies and other simpler things. Sat on this recipe for a while and when I figured I was ready to actually tackle some bread this was the first one I went for. I have a lot of trouble getting a nice rise out of my loaves, seems my dough does not have the tensile strength to hold the expanding dough together. Do not have scales though so my percentages are probably off slightly. Also my bread ends up being terribly flat if I wait until morning to split and form it. I have just been forming it in bread pans after only an hour proof and then leaving overnight and tossing in the oven in the morning. I realize my methods are probably horrid to someone who knows what they are doing, but this bread manages to be amazing every time despite my crude techniques. Thanks so much for this recipe, it really does make the best sandwiches ever. I use whole red fife wheat, maybe half spelt or rye and it works very well for those who asked. I will perhaps try and get a scale and follow everything as precisely as I can for once. As for those going on about whole flax, all I can say is: Do you chew your food?! Those seeds probably double in size when you dump the water over them. Take the time to chew your food thoroughly and you’ll get plenty of nutrition from those seeds I promise.

  19. Leannah Lim Leannah Lim
    December 7, 2015    

    Thanks Teresa for this great recipe. The bread comes out wonderfully moist and tasty.

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  1. Ancient Grain Flaxseed Sourdough | Beets 'n Bones on August 21, 2015 at 11:45 am

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