Charles Petzold

Flax Seed Bread

June 2, 2009
Roscoe, N.Y.

Out of all the modern appliances whose existence would be impossible without embedded processors, my favorite is undoubtedly the bread machine: Put in the ingredients (water, flour, yeast, etc), close the hatch, press the button, and in 3 to 4 hours (depending on the model) a piping hot loaf of bread can be removed and consumed.

We still use our bread machine every Sunday for making the dough for our vegetarian pizza that I wrote about almost nine years ago (except that the toppings now include a vegetarian chorizo, and even sometimes a non-vegetarian pheasant sausage that we get at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturdays) as well as — when we plan ahead sufficiently — bread to accompany dinner.

One of our favorite dinner breads is a Golden Flax Bread whose recipe we found on the back of a box of Milled Flax Seed made by Hodgson Mill:

Actually this is not the recipe as it appears on the back of the box. The recipe on the box indicates 7/8 cup water, 2 tablespoons milled flax seed, and 2 tablespoons butter, but a footnote indicates that the butter can be replaced with 6 more tablespoons of flax seed and 2 more tablespoons of water. (When doing the math, it helps if you know that there are 16 tablespoons to the cup.) Curiously, the recipe on the Hodgson Mill web site doesn't even have that footnote!

I don't think we ever used the version with only 2 tablespoons flax seed, and I find the requirement of 7/8 cup water very peculiar. I think the recipe as I've listed the ingredients was the original, and someone at Hodgson Mill said "Hey, we can't put a recipe on the box that calls for 1/2 cup flax seed. People will think we're crazy!" So they altered the recipe accordingly, and relegated the original recipe to the footnote. That's my theory, anyway.

Do not fear using 1/2 cup milled flax seed in this recipe! Nobody's ever complained about "too much flax seed" in the bread, and the leftovers are also great for French Toast.