Tag Archives: rye

Jeffrey Hamelman’s Rye and Flaxseed Bread

Rye and Flaxseed Sourdough Bread copyright Zeb Bakes

Flax or linseed is a wonderful and healthy addition to a good loaf of bread. In the UK we get both golden and brown linseed, I have used golden linseed here as I like the colour. If you soak the seeds overnight before working them into the dough then they release a sticky mucilage that I believe improves the cohesive quality of a high content rye dough and for those of you who are struggling with shaping and slashing it also helps in that department. All the loaves I have ever made using a flaxseed soaker open and spring well.

linseed old bread bread dough copyright zeb bakes

This bread is made following a recipe of Jeffrey Hamelman in the updated edition of Bread. It is made with fermented whole rye flour, strong white (bread flour) linseeds and an old bread soaker. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of an old bread soaker, who are wrinkling your nose and going ewww, an old bread soaker is not made with a green and furry piece of ancient crust, not with a three day old slice of supermarket pap but with a drying piece of a good bread. In this case I used a slice of the sourdough I was currently eating which was about two days old. As I routinely eat my sourdoughs for up to a week after they have been baked, there was nothing scary about this at all.

Like most things you might choose to add to your bread, the secret is not to add too much that it alters the character of the loaf in an undesirable way.

proving loaves in cloth copyright Zeb Bakes

The recipe is given in full on Modern Baking’s website here (it looks like a legal site not one of those horrible rip off places) together with his notes on the bread and his comments on using an old bread soaker for those of you don’t have a copy of the book yet. I scale the recipe down by dividing the metric column numbers by 10 as I do with nearly all his recipes for my use at home. I followed the recipe very closely as I tend to do when I make Hamelman’s breads. I might add a little more or less liquid depending on the absorbency of my particular flours that is the only difference.

If you are trying an old bread soaker you may need to experiment with how you prepare it though. I suggest making sure the bread is a sort of porridgy slurry before you mix it into the dough, so you may need to process it a bit in some way first.

Rye and Linseed sourdough copyright Zeb Bakes

This is a strong and fully flavoured bread which reminds me vividly of German breads. I adore it. It is not one for people who don’t like rye however. I return to bake it ( and variations on this theme )  again and again. It has a lovely mouth feel and bite and a rich complex set of flavours.

I made three easily shapable loaves and put them in between folds of cloth to prove before baking in a hot oven with steam on a baking stone.

Give it a go if you fancy something different, you never know you might like it! There are lots more of Jeffrey Hamelman’s breads buried in the old posts of my blog if you want to get an idea of the range and breadth of what he offers the aspiring bread baker.  I have added a menu page which gives links to these breads  which I baked with the Mellow Bakers project for ease of reference here.   I might revisit baguettes this weekend …. what are you baking?

Related Posts :

Multi seeded bread with an old bread soaker with recipe

How much do I love this bread? – Nils’ 60/40 ryebread

A lot!  Thank you Nils and Ye Olde Breade Blogge for this wonderful formula!  When in doubt make this one….it always behaves beautifully and  boosts your rye bread making confidence.  It’s more rye than the light deli rye but not as seriously rye as some. Nils calls it ‘ze 60/40 rye’.  A great introduction to rye breads for people who want to try their hand at making it, but aren’t quite sure where to start…

I use half and half light and dark rye usually to approximate the German rye flour that Nils uses. Sometimes I make the starter with the light rye and add the dark rye to the dough or vice versa.  It works very well :)

Extra pic for Blue:  Here is the dough fully proved and turned out from its form and slashed, it was quite firm enough to hold its shape at this point in time, didn’t spread out or anything….

Using baked bread as a soaker in a mixed rye and grain bread

I got this nice email this morning from Andrew Auld who I know from Dan Lepard‘s bread forum.

Thought of you recently as we had a trip to Copenhagen (Andy’s blog post) and had some great rye bread. Still thinking of trying out a danish rye recipe as our rye breads do sell well. Will have to try the soaker recipe you referred to .. .

do you have a link?

I hope this is the one you are thinking of…

This bread requires both a cold soaker and a sourdough leaven

Cold Soaker

  • 50g baked rye bread (or ryvita if you have no old bread- by old bread I mean bread that is maybe 3 days old, hard but not mouldy of course, rye breads tend to age very gracefully and you can always put the end of a good loaf in the freezer with this bread in mind)
  • 25 g linseed
  • 25g millet
  • 20 g malted rye grains  or any cracked smallish grain you have that you like
 – these are small pieces of rye that have been malted by the mill (in this case Shipton Mill in England)
  • 165g water

Extra thoughts eighteen months on….To make the cold soaker, slice the bread thinly and cut into small fragments and put together with the seeds in a bowl, cover with the water and leave for 12-16 hours. If it feels very lumpy then I recommend whizzing the mixture with one of those handheld whizzy things or in a food processor to break up the lumps of bread.  If you are someone with many bowls, you could make two cold soakers, one with the bread and one with the seeds, and distribute the water between them. If you bake the slices of bread till they are golden brown before soaking, you will increase the umami flavour of your final bread.


  • 30g mature rye leaven
  • 200g lukewarm or room temperature water
  • 225 g dark rye flour (whole rye flour)

Make both the above at the same time,  12 hours plus before you want to mix the dough

For the dough

Mix both the above together. I use an electric hand mixer to do this.

Then add:

  • 370 g strong white flour
  • 105 g water
  • 15 – 20 g salt
  • 150g worth of toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon of easy bake yeast (optional)

Makes a quite sticky dough. Leave for 10 to 20 minutes. Do a quick knead and then leave it alone. It becomes less sticky after a while.

If you use the yeast, bulk ferment for about an hour and then scale and shape and leave to prove again for another 1 – 2 hours depending on dough temperature, room temperature etc. If you don’t use the yeast, then it will take longer of course.

I put seeds in the bottom of the banneton but you can mist the top of the dough and sprinkle seeds on top just before baking.

Slash the loaf well!

Oven temp 230 º C  for 10 minutes with steam in the oven (little tray in bottom with boiling water in)  turned down to 220 º C once the loaf has sprung and started to go brown for 20 minutes and then 210 º C  for the last 15 – 20 minutes.

Looks like Andrew liked it :) See pingback below! And this is his emailed comment:

…Definitely a deliciousness to the rye bread which I think is down to the umami effect of the old bread you mention on your blog.

Used some of the 100% rye loaf we do inspired by your recipe on dan’s blog. It has pumpkin seed and orange in it. Will be making it again for sure.

And here is Andrew’s bread ready for sale!   here