The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Differences between diastatic and non-diastatic malt powders

YeastofMyWorries's picture

Differences between diastatic and non-diastatic malt powders

Could someone explain the differences between these two ingredients please?

Optionparty's picture

Diastatic malt contains active enzymes.
Non-diastatic has no active enzymes
and is used for flavor (like molasses would be used).
Bread dough needs enzymes.


Chuck's picture

Non-diastatic malt is simply for coloring and flavoring.

(The color change is most pronounced in the crust. You can easily go all the way from a light golden crust to a dark brown crust.)

Diastatic malt (often in the form of "malted barley flour") in addition to the coloring and flavoring effects also affects the developing chemistry of the dough.

  • diastatic malt is sometimes used by professional or organic bakers to reduce the "falling number" of flour - what's that? home bakers don't need to care, as U.S. flour makers have usually already put tiny amounts in their retail flours as needed
  • use diastatic malt only in very small quantities (as little a 1/4 teaspoon per loaf)
  • just a little too much diastatic malt will make the crumb of the bread "gummy", often impossibly so
  • diastatic malt can make the rising process work better so you get higher breads ...but using it is a form of playing "chicken": a little rises higher, twice a little is even better, but three times a little and suddenly your bread is wrecked

(My own experience so far has been that with flour makers already adding "the right amount" of diastatic malt, it's overly tricky to do much better. My stash of malted barley flour sits in the back of my freezer and virtually never comes out:-)

alphabet's picture

I have an english muffin recipe, calls for 2 tablespoons of non-diastatic malt powder. Here at home, I find I only have diastatic malt powder in the freezer. There's been a blizzard here. The roads are bad and I live in the country, plus it's 30 miles to the nearest supermarket.

My question: It says in this thread that non-diastatic malt is used for color and flavor, whereas the diastatic sort is used to improve the rise. So I wonder, can I ignore the malt question entirely or should I maybe add a little molasses to improve color and flavor? If so, how much molasses? If not, what should I do?

Help, please! My starter is started and will be ready in a few hours.

Thanks, folks!


baybakin's picture

Molassas is a good replacement, but a stronger flavor than malt extract, depending on the grade (how dark it is).  I would probably replace 2 TBS of (non-diastatic) malt extract with 1 TBS of molassas and 2 tsp of sugar.  non-diastatic malt is 60% as sweet as sugar, so I figure this should balance the flavor pretty well.  You can also go without adding the sugar, or back off the amount of molassas, depending on how pronounced you want the flavor to be.

dabrownman's picture

Just take some diastatic malt powder that is white in color and dry pan fry it till it turns red.   Now you have non diastic malt powder or red malt.  So no worries.  If you have diastatic malt (white) you can have both but not the other way around,

You can also roast it in the oven or toaster oven like I do at 325 F till it turns brick red.

dabrownman's picture
alphabet's picture

I will try the molasses & sugar substitute tonight. If it works or if it doesn't, I'll try the fry-pan method regardless, see if I can make RED malt powder!?

By the by. I HAVE malt syrup on the shelf. Does that change anybody's recommendation?

Let me know, please! And thanks again for your kind responses.


alphabet's picture

I just wanna say thanks again to dabrownman, baybakin, Optionman, and Chuck. I'm gonna try everything you recommended; see what works out best.

I made my muffins using baybakin's molasses & sugar substitute. It worked out fine and I had two homemade English muffins for breakfast this morning. Delicious! But they were a first try and (I expect) not what they will be after I practice and experiment a bit. It will give me something to work on for the next week or two. I will try all your recommendations.

You folks are the best!