Donna Deane's Raised Buckwheat Belgian Waffles
Donna Deane's Halibut with Grapefruit and Blood Orange Sauce

Blue Ribbon Bakery's Flaxseed Bread


Can it be? Finally, after a spate of splendiferous food, a recipe that I plan on chucking into the garbage straight after I write this post? I can scarcely believe my eyes. Okay, well, it's not like this was inedible. But what's the point of throwing a few flaxseeds into a straight-up white-bread bread? I'd rather my toasted flaxseeds could spend their days nestled into the whole-grain beauty of a whole-wheat loaf, cuddled up next to more wholesome ingredients than just white flour and honey and water.

The LA Times printed this recipe from Blue Ribbon Bakery last June in an article about artisan bread in New York City. Something about flaxseed sounded virtuous and good, so I couldn't help but print out the recipe and place it on my desk to wait patiently for months. To provide a respite from the harried apartment hunting and to have fresh bread around the house for my visitors from Berlin this week and next, I set to making this last weekend.

You make a starter with yeast (I used fresh), water, honey and bread flour and let that stand for 24 hours. I decided to halve the recipe, so after 24 hours, I weighed the fermented starter and scooped out half into a new bowl, to which I added dry yeast, toasted flaxseeds, water, bread flour, and salt. I kneaded it into a satisfyingly smooth and dry ball and let it rise until it practically rose out of my bowl. I shaped half of the dough into a loaf and the other half got plopped into a pan to rise again before being sent to the oven to bake until golden brown.

This is a workhorse bread - one you toast in bulk for breakfast or smear with mustard for utilitarian sandwiches. It provides an innocuous canvas for sprightly marmalades or sliced deli meat. But this lacks personality, it lacks soul. It doesn't taste bad, but it's not my kind of bread. And an eighth of a cup of flaxseeds doesn't exactly infuse a loaf with wholesome goodness. Instead, those few random seeds are almost like a taunt.

(And briefly, while we're on the subject of Blue Ribbon Bakery, can I just say how ridiculous I found Ed Levine's selection of a recipe to include with his large piece on the diversity of chicken soups in New York City yesterday? There he was, telling us about Sichuanese chicken soup and Momofuku's chicken soup and Sripraphai's chicken soup, and yet the only recipe he feels like printing is yet another bubbeleh's version of matzo ball soup? I can't be alone in wishing he'd been a little more adventurous with his choice.)