Sesame-Flax Soda Bread – Recipe

Sesame-Flax Soda Bread
Sesame-Flax Soda Bread

Now I know this title might sound like the worst hippie food I’ve ever posted, but hear me out – because you could be having fresh, delicious bread on your dinner table tonight with about 10 minutes of work.

I’m no whole-grain obsessive. In fact, I love white flour. Whole-grain breads have a coarser texture and totally different flavors than those based on white flour. White flour is primarily a neutral-sweet background that allows other flavors from yeast and fermentation to shine through, while the various whole grains have their own distinct flavors. The key is to work with those flavors, not just substitute them blindly for white flour.

For example, let’s say I wanted to have a simple dinner of lentil soup, bread, and a chopped salad. If I was going to serve this with a crusty, yeast-raised white flour loaf, I might flavor the soup with smoked paprika and garnish it with a big drizzle of olive oil. That wouldn’t go with this sesame-flax soda bread at all. This bread is cakier in texture and really wants butter, not olive oil, and I’d probably flavor the soup primarily with onions and garlic.

Speaking of bread for dinner, the two obvious options are to buy a nice artisan loaf, or make your own yeast bread – which is awesome but not something we all make time for, or think about far enough in advance. A soda bread is a nice third way. Because the leavening comes from baking soda, you don’t have to develop the gluten or the yeast, so it all it needs is a quick mixing process and it goes right in the oven. It doesn’t exactly scratch the same itch as a yeast bread, but provides its own cakier kind of pleasure.

The flax meal I use is from Bob’s Red Mill. Once you open the package, I recommend sealing the leftovers tightly in a plastic bag and freezing, as the oils go rancid quickly at room temperature.

Sesame-Flax Soda Bread
Makes 1 large loaf
Vegetarian; not vegan or gluten-free

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup flax meal
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cool
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, flax meal, sesame seeds, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Cut the butter into the flour with two knives or a pastry cutter, as when making a pie crust. (Tip: if your butter is frozen, microwave it for ten seconds at a time until it is cuttable).
  3. Add the egg and buttermilk. Mix well with a spoon, then knead right in the bowl for couple of minutes. It should be moist but firm enough to form a ball. If not, add a bit more flour.
  4. Shape into a large ball, place on a greased (or silpat-covered) cookie sheet, and make an X in the top with a sharp knife.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown, and sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom. Better yet, use an instant read thermometer to look for an internal temperature of 180 degrees F / 83 C. That is a much more reliable way to gauge doneness. Check the bread about 20 minutes into cooking, and if it is browning too fast, cover it with a tinfoil tent until it is done.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes, and serve with swaths of sweet cream butter.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, December 10th, 2012 in Baking, Recipes.

11 Responses to “Sesame-Flax Soda Bread – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    December 11, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    I love the sound of this. I might have to try it, subbing white whole wheat for the white flour.

  2. Reply
    Anna K.
    December 12, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    I started measuring internal temperature of my breads and it makes a difference. If nothing else, it’s a lot less awkward than getting a hot loaf of bread out of the pan, rapping on the bottom and then putting it back if it’s not done.

    Have you tried the Thermapen yet? Worth it?

    • Reply
      December 12, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      Yes, I like the Thermapen a lot. A few thoughts here: link to

      • Reply
        Anna K.
        December 12, 2012 at 10:49 am #

        Oh awesome. I hadn’t noticed the update. Thanks!

  3. Reply
    December 14, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Flax and soda are 2 words i ‘d never imagine with each other! But this bread looks amazing. Almost dessert-y and great for winter!


  4. Reply
    December 16, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    This sounds great! I’ve been wanting to make a fresh loaf forever but I dont have a bread maker or that much extra time for that matter, so I think this will be a nice substitute!!

  5. Reply
    December 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    Love the ease and convenience of soda breads compared to yeast breads, though both bave their own place and time.
    Glad to see you did not name it “Irish” Michael 🙂 Because, just the other day, I was reading about traditional Irish breads and how there is no butter, no eggs, no sugar or anything else.

    Really liked the part where you explain how a kind of bread works with something and not the other. I tend to grinding flax seeds as required before use.

    • Reply
      December 18, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Yep, this is definitely not a traditional Irish soda bread. What do you grind you flax seeds in? My old blender wouldn’t do it, though I assume my VitaMix would do fine.

      • Reply
        December 18, 2012 at 10:53 am #

        Michael, I have a sturdy Indian “small jar” grinder which comes in handy for such “small quantiy, tough job” tasks 🙂
        A good spice or coffee grinder (unused or thoroughly cleaned though) should be good, don’t you think?

        • Reply
          December 18, 2012 at 10:56 am #

          Yep. They are hard little buggers! I bet my new Hario hand grinder would do the job as well.

  6. Reply
    Wayne Winters
    January 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    I made the bread yesterday and my partner and I really like it. Easy to make and delicious the next day toasted because the sesame really comes through. I just used my coffee/spice grinder for the flax and it worked fine.

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