Bakers Journal

Formulating with Flax

December 5, 2007
By Brian Hinton

A fabulous flax formula from the Flax Council of Canada.

46Consumers are realizing that adding wholegrains, fruit and seeds to their diet makes for a powerful combination of disease-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants. Research suggests that wholegrains reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Few foods can offer such benefits.

We started making flax breads some seven years ago but when sales slowed, we considered dropping the bread. Then along came the low-carb craze and flax was the perfect ingredient to respond with: it’s low in carbs, high in fibre, high in Omega 3’s and a natural for adding to bread. Even as the low-carb craze has diminished, our flax bread has held its own. We have reformulated the product to bring the cost into line. And there’s no need to stop with breads: every bakery product can be converted into a flax creation.

In our bakery we use both dark and golden flax as whole, milled seeds and flour. Although the nutritional values are the same, we find some functional differences. To the consumer, whole flax seeds mean health and wellness. Unfortunately, little of the health benefits inside the seed are available to the body. Flax seeds have a very high oil coating on the outside, which means most of the seeds used as topping end up in the bottom of the bag. We have partly overcome this by mixing whole flax seeds with equal amounts of rolled oats – this also makes for a nice colour contrast.


Milled flax seed is our most used ingredient for all kinds of bakery items. It was always my understanding that milled seeds went rancid quickly if not refrigerated, however, better seed selection and processing has eliminated this problem. We formulate using a 10 to 15 per cent milled seed replacement of the flour component, and scale 20 per cent heavier for yeasted products. This makes for a dense, flavourful bread with excellent toasting properties. To produce lighter grain breads see the formulas attached. Flax has many unique properties. For example, it can be used to replace eggs in a recipe: just mix three parts hot water with one part seeds and allow to stand an hour before using.

Flax flour is still a very new ingredient and is commonly used in mixes to support the Omega 3 claim. The resulting yeasted products are very soft and have a long shelf life. One company offers mixes with five flavour options, from garlic, basil, and rosemary to oregano and cilantro, that may be added to a golden flax recipe. The flax bread market is well developed, with many varieties of bread using the fibre and Omega 3 claims allowed in the nutritional facts table. But with some creativity, flax can substitute for some of the flour component in a recipe, which opens up the opportunity to make muffins, cookies, cakes and flatbreads. 

Brian Hinton is the owner of Lakeview Bakery in Calgary. Contact him at:

Flax Honey Bran Bread
Ingredients                    lb.    oz.    %
Flour                            42    12    85.5
Wheat bran                    2     4      4.5
Flaxseed meal                5     –      10
Water                          31    8      63
Honey                          7     8      15
Salt                             1     2      2.25
Canola oil                      –     8      1
Compressed yeast           2     2      4.25
Vital wheat gluten           2     –      4
Ascorbic acid                  –     –      100 ppm   
CSL and/or SSL              –     4      0.5


1. Mix to full development.
2. Twenty to 30 minutes floor time.
3. Scale at 20 oz. per loaf for 1 pound loaf.
4. Round, intermediate proof for five to 10 minutes.
5. Mold.
6. Full proof then bake at 380 F to 400F for approximately 25 minutes.

Recipes courtesy the Flax Council of Canada,

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