The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Diastatic Malt Powder and/or Vital Wheat Gluten

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vtelf03's picture

Diastatic Malt Powder and/or Vital Wheat Gluten

What are the advantages/disadvantages to using one of these in my bread? I'm a relatively new bread baker, although each loaf comes out better. I bought some Wheat Gluten on the advice of a friend and am using it for the first time today (the bread is only in it's first rise - I'll defintely let you know how it turns out in the end). I was told (and have read online) that they both tend to help with shelf life, having a better crust, etc., but I'm curious what more experienced bakers can actually tell me. Do they also help with rising?

I have yet to make a real yeast bread that rises correctly, although I'm hoping that the bread I currently have rising (a Honey Wheat) makes that statement untrue! My friend Cory (who suggested the product) is also a home brewer, and uses some type of malt that he uses in brewing for bread as well and says it helps with the rising process as well. However, I'd rather find out from others before I go and order some diastatic malt powder online. Can anyone give me any suggestions about this? Sorry my questions aren't more exact ... I'm basically looking for information at this point! Perhaps a good question might be when might I want to use either of these, and why?

Thanks a million,


rcrabtree's picture

As I'm sure you know, bread gets its resiliant shape and structure through gluten, which is a protein found in flour which, when combined with water, forms protein matrix which traps air - hence, bubbles.  Different varieties of wheat contain it in differing amounts; bread flour contains a higher concentration, cake flour has much less, and AP flour is somewhere in the middle.  The vital wheat gluten is a concentrated form of the protein, and you can add it to AP flour to up the gluten.  I usually use unbleached flour for most applications and add a little wheat gluten to it if I'm making something I want extra chewy.

Diastatic malt powder is something else entirely, and I don't have experience using it in baking.  I am also a homebrewer and the product that your friend uses is most likely called Dry Malt Extract - which is basically dehydrated, unfermented, unhopped beer.  If you are familiar with Malta Goya, that is similar - unfermented unhopped beer.  The flavor of the powder can only be described as "malty" - the same flavors you'll find in malted milk, ovaltine, malted milk balls, etc . . .

Diastatic -vs non-diastatic.  Diastatic means that the malt powder still contains active enzymes, which are used by the barley grains to convert starch to sugar.  As I said I don't have experience using the powder in baking, but the enzymes would be activated when mixed with water to form the dough, and will start breaking down the starch from the flour into sugar, and I imagine this would feed the yeast and make for quite a lively fermentation (the bread "rising").  It would of course, also change the flavor of the bread to a more "malty" flavor.

I've been meaning to give try the DME is some bread . . .

crunchy's picture

I've used it in my breads and had very good results. It's used in very small quantities (about 1 tsp per loaf) and therefore does not alter bread flavor significantly. It does improve rising and, most importantly, produces a more caramelized (brown) crust. All that said, I don't think that it's a miracle product that will make your bread perfect. If the gluten isn't developed properly, DM won't make the bread right. So I'd suggest working with your current formula until you get it to work and only then start using add-ins. BTW, King Arthur bread flour has DM added to it already.

xaipete's picture

I'm a fan of using a little vital gluten when making 100% whole wheat bread. I think it does give the loaf a bit of an edge with respect to oven spring. I'm using about 1 tablespoon per loaf.


PaddyL's picture

I use malt powder from time to time and find it helps the loaves brown when there's no sugar in the dough.  I think extra gluten is a waste of time.

suave's picture

I do not use diastatic malt often since usually some has already been added at the mill, however there're breads where it is required in considerable amounts, so I keep some handy.  Vital wheat gluten, on the other hand, has no place in my kitchen.


dtaffe's picture

A couple of posters sound as though you've used VG and don't think it's needed/worthwhile/etc.  I've used it intermittently and agree it doesn't seem to make much difference for most of my loaves - variations of predominantly white (KA Bread Flour) flour.  However... I just started experimenting with buckwheat, and I think it may help there. I've done a couple of batches with flour/buckwheat ratios of 4 cups to 2 cups, and both have come out underrisen and doughy, despite lengthy warm rising periods. Neither has had any oven spring.  I'm wondering for something like this with a much lower inherent gluten content whether added VG would help. Any thoughts?


xaipete's picture

I don't think vital gluten adds much to predominately bread flour loaves, but when dealing with other types of grains, e.g., whole wheat, I do think it helps improve proofing and oven spring. I know it makes a big difference in my 100% sprouted wheat berry bread.


Pain Partout's picture
Pain Partout

Many moons ago, I used vital wheat gluten in my breads, especially when I played around with the "bread machine" method.  Threw out the bread machine,..which never made good bread any way, and stopped using the vital gluten altogether.  I will NOT make bread without Diastatic Malt Powder.  I also used Malt Extract for beer, etc (a "syrup").  Played around with honey..which yeast also love.  The Malt extract often gave more flavor to the loaf, as compared to the Diastatic Malt Powder.  The honey gave too much sweetness to the kind of bread that we like (I do not often add any sweetners to my bread).  Both the tinned Malt Extract and honey are messier to measure, store.   Yeast LOOOOVE the Diastatic Malt. Lower amounts have given me nicer rise than the other "bug enhancers", with little affect on flavor.

rcrabtree's picture

FYI, you can buy the Malt Extract in a powder form rather than the canned liquid variety.  Any decent homebrew store should carry it in 1-2lb bags.  If you want to get really adventurous you can even buy the dry stuff in lighter or darker varieties, but I'm not sure whether the difference in flavor would show up in a loaf of bread.  If you do decide to try it I would suggest either mixing it thoroughly with the flour before adding liquid, or dissolving it in boiling water and adding that to the bread (after cooling, of course) - the stuff has a tendancy to clump.

vtelf03's picture

Thanks all. The VG did "seem" to help this loaf (for the first time, a really good rise!) but I also used a tiny bit of sugar in the recipe along with the honey. Regardless, I think it tastes great, but the input is useful! I'm definitely still trying to figure out what works best for me, and what my husband and I like best.

kmmohann's picture

I am from India, and here for us everything seems to be so different from the west. After about two months of efforts and about 50 loaves, I have reached a reasonable approximation of a good bread. Since the approach is India-specific, I felt it maynot be so relevant in this forum, so I started a blog  Hope some of you will visit and post your comments -- people here seem to have so much expertise! Thanks.

rlneumiller's picture

Nevermind - found someone already explained it well on another post