Baking with Flax: Tips, Tricks, & Is It Dangerous? (video post)

Flax Seed has been lauded for its nutritional benefits since the time of Hippocrates in 650 B.C., but the gluten-free movement has brought more attention to this tiny seed than ever before.

With so many recipes calling for flax in various forms, and questions about the best way to integrate it into baking, I thought it was time for a bit of a lesson on flax. You can watch the video below for the full class, or read the summary below for the basics and links to research. Ready? Let the Breaducation begin!

 

What is Flax?

Flax is a tiny seed, dark brown or golden in color that comes from the flax plant. Flax is a reed-like plant whose fibers are excellent for weaving. The Maori culture in New Zealand has long used flax-woven clothing and materials, and the practice has spread world-wide as a fabric we call “linen.”

How is it used in baking?

When moistened, flax seed creates a mucilage (gel) that can act as a “binder” in gluten-free or egg-free recipes. Here are a few ways to use flax seed:

Whole Flax:

  • Eating whole flax seed will not give you any nutritional benefits other then added “roughage” in your diet, since the gel produced by moistened flax protects it completely from digestion.
  • Whole flax seeds can be used for aesthetics in bread, granola, or as a garnish on salads or other savory dishes.
  • Flax Seed roasted lightly in a skillet releases a beautiful aroma and tasty oils that your body can utilize, and adds flavor to whatever you add them to.

Flax Meal

  • Can be purchased or ground at home in a Magic Bullet or coffee grinder (I grind my own)
  • Can be added to just about anything: bread, oatmeal, soup, shakes, ice cream (haha just seeing if you’re awake)

Flax “Egg”

  • 1 Tablespoon ground flax meal, when mixed with 2-3 Tablespoons water and left to sit for a few minutes, creates a goopy vegan “egg” that can be used as a binder in many recipes. (see video for demonstration)

Tips & Tricks for Baking with Flax

  • You can adjust the thickness of your flax “egg” by adding more or less water to your flax meal depending on how dry or wet your batter needs to be.
  • Recipes that call for more than 2-3 tablespoons of flax meal will typically bake out to be heavier, and gooey-er. Flax “eggs” do not bake the same as real eggs. Add too many and they tend towards sogginess.
  • If relying on flax as a binder (especially in recipes calling for large amounts of flax) baking in smaller tins (like muffins or mini-loaves) will help the batter rise higher and maintain structure during baking. (see video for examples)
  • Adding more leavener (like baking soda) will not help flax-bound batter rise higher, it will only increase the likelihood that the baked good will collapse after baking.

Dangers of Consuming Flax: Research

Flax seed is a living thing prepared and equipped to protect itself against digestion. It has many health benefits when taken cautiously and “medicinally” but can be dangerous when over-consumed.

Conclusion

Flax seed is awesome in so many ways, but should be carefully consumed. There is a reason flax seed is expensive. Mother nature does not make it abundantly available (as opposed to crops like zucchini) and so it should be eaten in measured moderation.

 

 

Comments

  1. dani says

    You look so vibrant! I need an example of what you eat everyday. I am getting consistent with making my natural yeast bread, I just don’t know how often to make it or what else to eat. Obviously whatever you are doing is working for you and keeping you healthy. Any extra everyday tips?

    • thebreadgeek says

      Thank you for the sweet compliment! Mostly we focus on proper portion sizes around here, and keep our carbs in check. We try to eat lots of veggies, and use beans as a lot of our protein. For me (with my blood sugar sensitivities) that means eggs and greens for breakfast, veggies, a little fruit and crackers with cheese or PB for snack, an open-faced sandwich or bean bowl for lunch, small green smoothie for snack, veggie-packed dinner, and a small yogurt or sweet (healthy) snack before bed. And LOTS of water! I also ferment as much as possible because it makes us feel happy!

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