Ring! Ring! Bread with Flaxseed Soaker and Prunes (BBB May 2015)

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BBB: Let's Get Baking summary: spring at last; recipe for Flaxseed Soaker Bread with Prunes, based on a recipe at the San Francisco Bread Institute; following (or not) instructions; baking on time but posting late… oops; a Bread Baking Babes project; (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Kitchen Window wp-image-2041 Bread Baking Babes (BBB) May 2015

It’s spring at last!! You’ll have to excuse my lateness in posting! I was so thrilled to be able to go outside without a jacket on, that instead of being on time, I went out for a lovely bike ride in search of farmers’ asparagus (alas, we didn’t find any; the farmers’ markets aren’t open until next weekend). Then today was another beautiful day and we found ourselves on the bikes again all afternoon….

A while back, I saw the most beautiful loaf that had been baked by one of the bakers in the Facebook group, “Artisan Bread Bakers”. I immediately made a mental note to make one just like it.

And when Cathy announced that we would be making bread with plums in it, I thought this might be the perfect opportunity to try this amazingly beautiful shape!

Flaxseed and plum bread is a ciabatta-style bread made with a soft dough that has a hydration of over 90%. The formula contains small amounts of whole wheat and dark rye flours, which contribute to the flavor and the rustic appearance. The preferment used in this formula is a poolish, which is mixed the day before and fermented overnight. A matured poolish almost triples in size and is slightly concave at the surface. Over the long fermentation time, poolish slowly builds up lactic acid which gives the bread more depth of flavor.
In [the] video clip, we demonstrate how to mix the dough by hand. In a small batch, soft dough like this can be quickly put together by hand and is also very easy to make at home.
-sfbi.com Flaxseed and Plum Bread Recipe

BBB Flaxseed Prune Bread wp-image-2039 Ciabatta style? Oh oh. What if that means croc?

BBB Flax Soaker Bread diary:

2 April 2015, 00:12 This bread sounds like fun, Cathy. But since when did “prunes” become “dried plums”?? It drives me crazy that people sniff at prunes but are excited about eating dried plums. I love prunes too and always have (although I’m not wild about stewed prunes).

I just looked at the recipe again and saw (and comprehended) the 95% for the water. Eeeeeeek!!!

Because I’m a freak, I can’t help but try to figure out a formula based on using a total of 500g flour and calculating how much vital wheat gluten to use to account for the fact that we can’t get unbleached bread flour easily.

3 April 2015 at 19:05 I did the calculations, using the chart of the bakers’ percentage on the Total Dough at the bottom of the San Francisco Baking Institute recipe. But I’m staring at the formula again and am now getting VERY confused.

(getting out my calculator again… clickety click click click click… )

Okay. 500gm flour total would give a poolish of 250gm so 125gm flour in the poolish and … yes! I think I’ve got it right now.

Wheeeee!! Isn’t arithmetic fun?

13 May 2015, 05:00 Really?? It’s the middle of May already?! How can that be? The forsythia has only just flowered!


After some discussion about the bread, it turns out that I may have to use raisins in the bread: 75% of the people in the house (there are only two of us) aren’t certain about prunes in bread. Even though 100% of the occupants really like prunes. :stomp: :lalala:

14 May 2015, 22:57 Okay okay! There’s no time like the present to make this bread. I’ve now made the starter and the flax seeds are soaking (I used almost boiling water). I guessed at how much 0.125g yeast is. I threw in a few grains. Here’s hoping that the starter will be bubbly tomorrow morning….

An update on the prunes… we had another discussion this afternoon. I started with mocking North Americans for needing to call prunes “dried plums”. And it looks like I’ll be using prunes in the bread after all. Yay.

I just took another look at the recipe:

Allow to ferment [the starter] 12 – 14 hours at room temperature
-sfbi.com, flax seed and plum bread recipe

Twelve to fourteen hours? Oh oh. It’s just before midnight now and I’m planning to mix the dough tomorrow morning around 08:00…. I hope that 4 hours fewer doesn’t make too much of a difference.

15 May 2015, 08:23 Pffft. Why do I worry?! The starter doesn’t seem to require four to eight more hours of fermentation; it’s beautifully bubbly and seems perfectly ready to go.

09:28 I just finished kneading the dough. And wow! Putting in the flax soaker and chopped prunes dried plums {snort} was really interesting! They really wanted to stay together in one lump rather than separate into individual seeds and prune pieces. And once the flax seed bowl was emptied, it was quite oily.

But the dough is much less sloppy than I thought it was going to be. It almost makes me think I should try the croc one more time.


18:14 750g.com Braided Ring Shaping accomplished!

I know. I wasn’t supposed to shape the bread. But I just couldn’t help myself… I really wanted to try this ring with braids that I saw on 750 grammes FB page.

So I cut one piece of dough in the way that the recipe said to do. And the other, I rolled out (gently). I decided it didn’t matter that it wasn’t a perfect rectangle. It wasn’t easy braiding the sloppy dough.

But I persevered. And after a few mishaps (note to self: next time leave two strands on far left and one strand on right unbraided until after the ring is formed.

shaping Braided Ring That way, there will be a braid to cover up the seam) I finally managed to get a reasonable ring shape with reasonable braids.

Both pieces are now on parchment paper and covered, languishing in the oven with only the light turned on.

Because yes, it’s chilly in the kitchen again. Of course it is. It’s only the middle of May…. :stomp: :stomp:

19:05 oven on!!

450°F with 2 seconds of steam. Bake for 20 minutes. Vent an additional 10 minutes.
-sfbi Flax Seed and Plum Bread recipe

What on earth does “vent” mean?!

21:06 It took about 40 minutes in all but the bread was finally finished baking (we think… it sounded hollow on the bottom, anyway) just as we were about to sit down to dinner.

It looks pretty good (even though the braids on the ring are not as defined as I’d hoped. I’ll try that shaping again with a less sloppy dough), but clearly, this bread really isn’t designed to be shaped.

I can’t wait til tomorrow morning!

Flaxseed Prune Bread

In the morning, we warmed up the bread to recrisp the crust. It was delicious with butter and sharp cheddar cheese.

Surprisingly, the 50% who didn’t want prunes in the bread thought the prunes were great and the 50% who insisted on prunes in the bread decided that next time, we’d use raisins instead of prunes.

Because there will be a next time. This bread is delicious!

Thank you, Cathy!

BBB Flaxseed Prune Bread wp-image-2032 Here is the BBB May 2015 Flaxseed and Prune Ciabatti-Style Bread recipe. And here is what I did to it:

BBB Flaxseed Soaker Bread with Prunes
based on a recipe for Flax Seed and Plum Bread at the San Francisco Baking Institute

makes 1 ciabatta-style loaf and 1 braided ring (or 3 ciabatta-style loaves)

Flax Soaker

  • 48g (~4.5 Tbsp) whole flax seeds
  • 72g (72ml) boiling water


  • 125g (125ml) water at 96F ¹
  • 0.125g (pinch) active dry yeast
  • 125g (~1 c) unbleached all-purpose flour ²


  • all of the starter
  • 284g (284ml) water at 96F ¹
  • 1.6g (~0.375 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 376g flour ²
       » 310g (~2.5 c) unbleached all purpose
       » 10g (~1.3 Tbsp) vital wheat gluten
       » 38g (~0.3 c) 100% whole wheat (no additives)
       » 18g (~2.25 Tbsp) dark rye
  • 10g kosher salt (1.7 tsp fine salt) ³
  • all of the flax soaker
  • 80g (~0.5 c) pitted prunes
  1. flax seed soaker: In the evening of the day before you will be baking the bread, put the flax seeds into a small heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over top. Cover the bowl and set aside overnight in the oven with only the light turned on.
  2. starter: In the evening of the day before you will be baking the bread, put all-purpose flour into a largish bowl. Whisk yeast and warm water together until the yeast has dissolved. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir with a wooden spoon 100 times. (Why 100 times? Because it’s a nice round number and will ensure that there are no lumps.) Cover the bowl with a plate and put it in the oven with only the light turned on. Leave it there beside the flax soaker bowl over night.
  3. mixing the dough: Whisk the yeast into the warm water in a small bowl until the yeast is dissolved and then add it to the starter. Use a wooden spoon (or your hands if you’d rather) to roughly combine the two. Don’t worry if it’s somewhat soupy.
  4. Add flours and salt to the large bowl. Use the wooden spoon to mix the flour in. Try not to be concerned that the dough seems a bit wet and sloppy(ie: ignore the “croc! croc! croc! croc!” alarms going off in your head).
  5. Kneading Use your hands to knead the dough in the bowl. Knead it well for about 10 minutes until the dough is really smooth, silky and completely unsticky. Be relieved that it seems to be dough rather than soup. Set aside for a moment.
  6. Chop the prunes roughly, so that they’re roughly the size of large raisins. (You thought that I forgot about the prunes and flax seeds, didn’t you? :lalala: Nope. For once, here I am actually following the instructions.) Put the prunes, along with the flax soaker, on top of the kneaded dough. Use your hands to turn and fold them into the dough. After 5 minutes or so of struggling to get an even mix, realise that you will be able to even things out when you do the stretching and folding in about half an hour. Pretend that you didn’t notice the instruction to “Transfer the dough into an oiled container”. As if…. Simply cover the bowl with a plate and put it in the oven with only the light turned on for about 30 minutes.
  7. stretching, folding and turning After 30 minutes, using your hand, slide down the side of the dough to grab from the bottom and pull the dough up, stretching it but NOT breaking it, to fold it over the top. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Do this four times. Cover the bowl with a plate and put it in the oven with only the light turned on for another 30 minutes or so.
  8. Repeat the above stretching and folding step two more times. After the final time, cover the bowl with a plate and leave the dough to ferment in the oven with only the light turned on until it is bubbly and has tripled in volume (sfi.com says this takes about 3 hours).
  9. shaping When the dough is fully expanded, carefully tip it out onto a well floured board. Pat it out gently into a rectangle and cut it into strips. (If you want, you can also shape the dough into rounds or ovals or rings, but be prepared for them to just flatten out into pancakes.) Lay the strips of dough on parchment papered cookie sheets. Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rest in a draft-free spot for about 30 minutes. (If your kitchen is cold like ours, place the shaped bread in the oven with only the light turned.)
  10. baking When the bread has risen, remove it from the oven and put it on the counter. Make sure that there is a rack on the middle shelf of the oven and turn it to 400F.
  11. Just before putting the bread in the oven, spray it liberally with water and put the bread into the oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 350F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until it is nicely browned and sounds hollow when knuckle-rapped on the bottom. Put the finished bread on a footed wire rack to cool. Allow the baked bread to cool completely before cutting into it. It’s still baking inside! (Even if you’ve ignored the instructions about using hot water from the tap, please do not ignore this step.) 4


1.) Water at 96F Yes. I’ll just keep repeating this: please do not use water from the hot water tap. Instead, heat the water in a kettle or microwave. If you are allergic to using a thermometer, you can check the temperature by putting a few drops of water onto your wrist: if it feels warm, it’s too warm; if it feels cool, it’s too cool; if it feels like nothing, then it’s fine. Please note that before the yeast is added, the liquid temperature must be BELOW 120F (49C) because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

2.) Flour The BBB recipe calls for bread flour in the starter and bread, dark rye and whole wheat flours in the actual dough. I decided to use all-purpose flour in the starter and because we can’t easily get unbleached bread flour, I added some vital wheat gluten.

3.) Salt The BBB recipe simply calls for salt. Because we use kosher salt – much bigger grain – we always weigh salt…. (For more information about measuring salt, please see Salt is salt, right?.)

4.) But I LIKE warm bread just out of the oven!! N.B. Of course you will want to serve warm bread. Reheat it after it has cooled completely. (It is still baking when first out of the oven!) To reheat any UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 450F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread in the hot oven for ten minutes.


Flaxseed Prune Bread

Last night we barbecued pork shoulder, making sure there would be enough for sandwiches today. This bread was brilliant for sandwiches!!

Thank you once again, Cathy!

Bread Baking Babes Ring! Ring! Bread with Flaxseed Soaker and Prunes (BBB May 2015)

Cathy is our host for May 2015’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

[L]et’s do something different this month. At least I think this is different from other breads you’ve made over the years. I hunted and hunted for something challenging that didn’t include sourdough. […] I’ve had this bread on my list to make for awhile […] I love the rich color of the loaves. I like the flaxseed soaker and the poolish in this bread. I can envision lot’s of tasty variations of dried fruit and perhaps even nuts in this bread.

We know you’ll want to make flaxseed and prune bread too! To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the bread in the next couple of weeks and post about it (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 May 2015. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to email the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ May bread:


Spring Blossoms
This is how the back garden looks right now. Yay for spring at last!



This entry was posted in baking, BBBabes, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, food & drink, posts with recipes on by . Flaxseed Prune Bread

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10 responses to “Ring! Ring! Bread with Flaxseed Soaker and Prunes (BBB May 2015)

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      I can’t believe that I tried to braid with this high hydration, Lien! And even though I did, I’m afraid that I’m still terrified of the croc. Maybe (that’s a big maybe) I might get over my fear but then again, maybe not (that seems more likely….)

  1. tanna jones

    I can’t believe I’m going to repeat Lien but … I can’t believe you would try to braid this one … however the results seem to make it superbly justifiable! Yes, good for sandwiches and with wine and cheese.

  2. katiezel

    Lovely loaves, as usual…. We just had a discussion about plums/prunes, grapes/raisins in my French conversation group….They wanted to know the English word for ‘raisin sec’…. I agree about the ‘dried plums’ – too ridiculous.

  3. Elle Lachman

    Pork sandwiches on this bread is genius Elizabeth. Can’t wait to see what you put with the raisin version. Love your braided loaf, too. Was the crumb significantly different? Sounds like you are more than ready for the croc!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      The sandwiches were fabulous, indeed. And what I really liked about them is that the pork really enhanced the prune flavour in the bread – and vice versa. It was a winning combination.

      I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for the croc again, Elle. Every time I got sucked into trying it, it was a disaster.

  4. Bread Experience

    Elizabeth, your ciabatta looks fabulous! I tip my hat to you for trying that exquisite shaping with this high hydration dough. Well done!


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