Flaxseed is an excellent source of dietary fiber. One ounce of flaxseed provides 32% of the USDA’s daily recommendation of fiber. In addition, flaxseed is high in essential nutrients including vitamins, minerals, folic acid, and omega 3 fatty acids. Baking with flaxseed adds texture quality to baked goods as well many nutritional benefits without much alteration of the flavor. Flaxseed does change several of the characteristics of dough, however, so you should follow some basic tips when baking with flaxseed.
Whole seed vs. ground
In order to release the health benefits of flaxseed, the seeds have to be broken or crushed. Whole flaxseed offers an attractive healthy-looking appearances to bread and muffins, but ground flaxseed is required to enhance the nutritional value of baked goods. Ground flaxseed is absorbent and oily, so you may need to make a few changes to your recipes when baking with flaxseed, either whole or ground.
Water and Liquids
Flaxseed is high in gums that absorb water. Studies done at the Northern Crops Institute show that the rate of absorption is product and brand dependent, so there I not a specific formula to follow. Generally speaking, you should add water in the ratio of 75% of the flaxseed used. For example, if you use 1 cup of ground flaxseed, you should add approximately ¾ cup of liquid to your recipe.
Because of the oils released in ground flaxseed, you can reduce the amount of oil called for in your recipe. However, ground flaxseed creates a dry feel to the dough, so even though less oil works for most recipes, it may not be as much of a crowd-pleaser as it would with the recommended amount of oil. You can reduce the amount of oil and increase the amount of other liquids such as water, applesauce, fruit juices, etc.
The process of grinding flaxseed accelerates the oxidation process. This results in quicker fermentation and proof. Therefore, when baking breads with flaxseed, the rising time should be decreased. You can also add a little extra yeast when you add flaxseed to baked goods with yeast.
Coloration and Baking Time
Flaxseed browns quickly under moderate to high heat. Many bakers choose to decrease the oven temperature and increase the baking time in order to prevent a burned appearance from the quickly browning flaxseed.
Whole flaxseed can be kept for several years whereas ground flaxseed can go rancid rather quickly. Therefore, it is recommended to buy whole flaxseed and then grind what you need when you are ready to use it. You can easily grind it in the best coffee grinder, best food chopper, blender or food processor. You can also grind it by hand with a mortar and pestle. Once ground, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container. You can keep it in the freezer for up to six months; in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
Conclusion Baking with flaxseed provides a nutritional and creative twist to many baked goods. With just a few changes to your favorite recipes, flaxseed can be added to breads, cookies, cakes, pies, and anything you can imagine. Note that all changes to recipes should be tested in a trial run first before you use flaxseed in baking something you plan to take to a party or public gathering. Because the changes caused by flaxseed in baked goods varies according to the brand and quality of ingredients, you will have to do some trial and error before you know exactly what works best for baking with flaxseed in your kitchen.
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