Flaxseed Rye with an Old Bread Soaker


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Dough Yield: About


    loaves at 1.5 lb each

Appears in


By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

Here is Another Bread that Uses Soaked Old Bread in the new batch, and it is a bread that was developed in an interesting way. Several years ago at the King Arthur Flour Bakery we began making a 100 percent rye pumpernickel (see Vollkornbrot,), and we had quite a following for the bread right away. Because of its great keeping quality, we felt that selling it for five days was acceptable. After a few months, however, we began having some bread left over after the five-day period, and no one in the Bakery felt good about either throwing out the leftover loaves or giving them to a food kitchen. I jotted some percentages on a piece of paper and asked one of the bakers to scale out the jottings. Those percentages were the DNA, so to speak, for the Flaxseed Rye Bread presented here. This formula is a good example of how a baker might simply combine ingredients in different proportions to elicit a certain result; in this case, a very delicious result. The old bread should ideally be a hearty dark bread, which will give a nice “bass note” to the flavor. The old bread also contributes to the excellent keeping quality of the loaves. A last note: this bread enjoys the addition of seeds on the surface. Many blends are possible. In the Bakery we mix together 45 percent flaxseeds, 45 percent sesame seeds, and 10 percent caraway. Shaped loaves are pressed into a damp cloth and then into a tray containing the seed blend. Final proofing takes place with the seed side up in floured bannetons.

Pre-Fermented Flour: 40%


Overall Formula

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Bread Flour 12 lb 6 kg 1 lb, 3.2 oz 60 %
Whole-Rye Flour 8 lb 4 kg 12.8 oz 40 %
Flax Seeds 2 lb 1 kg 3.2 oz 10 %
Old Bread 1.6 lb .8 kg 2.6 oz 8 %
Water 16.06 lb 8.03 kg 1 lb, 9.7 oz 80.3 %
Salt .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz 2 %
Yeast .26 lb, fresh .13 kg, fresh .14 oz, instant dry 1.3 %
Total Yield 40.32 lb 20.16 kg 4 lb, .2 oz 201.6 %


Whole-Rye Flour 8 lb 4 kg 12.8 oz ( cups) 100 %
Water 6.64 lb 3.32 kg 10.6 oz (1⅓ cups) 83 %
Mature Sourdough Culture .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz (2 T) 5 %
Total 15.04 lb 7.52 kg 1 lb, 8 oz


Old Bread, Cubed 1.6 lb .8 kg 2.6 oz ( cups) 44.4 %
Flaxseeds 2 lb 1 kg 3.2 oz (½ cup + T) 55.6 %
Water 6 lb 3 kg 9.7 oz ( cups) 166.7 %
Total 9.6 lb 4.8 kg 15.5 oz

Final Dough

Bread Flour 12 lb 6 kg 1 lb, 3.2 oz (4⅜ cups)
Water 3.42 lb 1.71 kg 5.4 oz ( cup)
Salt .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz (1 T)
Yeast .26 lb, fresh .13 kg, fresh .14 oz, instant dry (1⅜ tsp)
Sourdough 14.64 lb 7.32 kg 1 lb, 7.4 oz (all less 2 T)
Soaker 9.6 lb 4.8 kg 15.5 oz (all of above)
Total 40.32 lb 20.16 kg 4 lb, .2 oz


  1. RYE SOURDOUGH: Prepare the sourdough and ripen for 14 to 16 hours at 70°F.
  2. SOAKER: Prepare the soaker when making the sourdough. Cube the old bread. Put it into a container with the flaxseeds and add the soaker water. Cover and leave at room temperature.
  3. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl. In a spiral mixer, mix for 3 minutes on first speed. The dough will be somewhat loose. Mix on second speed for about 4 minutes, to moderate gluten development. Desired dough temperature: 78°F.
  5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces. Shape round. Press the tops of the loaves into a moistened cloth and then into a seed blend if desired.
  6. FINAL FERMENTATION: 50 to 60 minutes at 80°F.
  7. BAKING: With normal steam, 460°F for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 440°F and bake for an additional 25 to 30. A full bake brings out the deepest fragrances and flavors.