The Fresh Loaf

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Diastatic Malt Powder

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sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

Diastatic Malt Powder

I have been baking challah bread for about a year and am planning to make about 30 next weekend.  In order to bake a few a day ahead I have been looking into some natural products that extend the bread's shelf life.  Has anyone used dastatic malt powder in their yeast breads?  Does it really help keep it fresher longer?

I would love some input.

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

Flo Makanai's picture
Flo Makanai

Hey Sharon,

I have no diastatic malt powder home, but I have barley malt, sort of a syrup. The taste in my sourdough breads is pretty good, but I'm not sure it really helps extending bread's freshness. I don't know...

What does work is preparing a dough with much less yeast than usual and retarding the fermentation process by placing the dough in the fridge for 8-12 hours, after a first rise of about 2 hours. The resulting dough is much like a sourdough one and it keeps very well for a few days.

(sorry if my english is a little incorrect but I'm French...)

BTW, you're courageous to bake so many challah's, I'm impressed! Will you publish pictures next week?

Florence

www.makanaibio.com

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Sharon,

I use diastatic malt powder in some breads I bake. I wouldn't have put it in the shelf-life-enhancing ingredients category. When added to dough it provides enzymatic action that breaks sugar out from starch. This both sweetens the dough slightly and makes the sugar available for caramelization for a golden brown crust. Here's a link about Diastatic Malt Powder:

http://joepastry.web.aplus.net/index.php?m=20080609

One thing that enhances shelf-life is the acidic content of the dough. This is why sourdough has such a great shelf-life. I have posted on TFL about using buttermilk in preferments (with Whole Wheat flour in that case) and I find the acid in the buttermilk also helps with shelf-life.

Others who bake challah may be able to add more suggestions.

Soundman (David)

apprentice's picture
apprentice

David, it might be more the fat in the buttermilk that prolongs shelf life. When fat is added to bread in whatever form, it gives a more tender crust and crumb, improves volume and flavour but also, keeping quality.

Of course, if what you're after is a crispy crust as in many of the French or Italian breads, you want little or no fat. The lean doughs are very popular right now, and I love 'em too. Every bread has its place, right?

Jest jabbering on... better go make my next loaf! Raisin bread, here we come.

Carol

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thanks, Carol, for your helpful clarifications.

I can't remember seeing, before your post, any information on diastatic malt powder as a shelf-life enhancer. Thanks for getting me up to speed!

I do remember that fat softens the crumb and thus helps keep bread fresher. But couldn't both the acid and the fat in buttermilk affect keeping quality? (More in a minute.)  Of course the fat content in the buttermilk would also be a factor. (I use low-fat buttermilk.)

Back to acid: I seem to remember Hamelman pointing to the acid in sourdough as greatly enhancing its keeping quality. I will check on that. Maybe the acid in buttermilk doesn't do as good a job as the acid in sourdough? Why would that be?

Soundman (David)

apprentice's picture
apprentice

Maybe, in fact, the acid in buttermilk does contribute to keeping quality along with the fat. As you point out, Hamelman makes that case for sourdough. I LOVE his story about his hike in the '70s when he mailed bread to himself at post offices along the trail! Five-week old bread still moist and delicious, with not a hint of mold. Amazing! Thanks for the reminder.

I figured you would know about fat's contribution to slow staling -- likewise sugar, proteins and emulsifiers such as the lecithin in egg yolk and milk. It's probably everything together, and only a career scientist would know the exact contribution of each.

Glad if I could give you a little tidbit about malt. I certainly have added to my own understanding lately! The sprouted barley bread quest is teaching me so much.

Carol

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Carol,

Thanks for that reminder! Yeah, that is a really great story. Song titles come to mind: "Those Were the Days", "Young and Foolish", "Yesterday". (I wonder if people still do that type of Grand Tour? Probably not with pre-sent POB bread.)

I sometimes wonder if knowing more food science would make me a better baker. At least it would make me a more reliable TFL responder! ;-)

Soundman (David)

apprentice's picture
apprentice

You're plenty reliable enough for me, David! We're all learning tons from each other at TFL. Sorry if it sounded in the other post as if I thought you needed correcting on the acid point. Like I said then, I was just jabbering. Chatting away before mixing the next bread.

I had actually forgotten JH's thoughts on acid and keeping quality. What I did recall, reading your post, was that I'd been told acid is about increasing dough strength. And that since it's routinely added to many flours milled in North America in the form of ascorbic acid, especially regular bread flour, we didn't need to worry about it.

Live and learn, as they say. I always read your posts, David. They're thoughtful and to the point, and you're very generous and respectful in sharing what you know. Keep 'em coming!

Carol

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thanks for the kind words, Carol!

Well the feeling's mutual. Now if only I really thought I knew something. Why does baking bread, which looks so simple, sometimes seems so complicated!??

There are so many great bakers contributing to TFL, with lots more experience, or who have professional training, I sometimes think I should lurk more and post less. But nothing ventured nothing gained. By posting, one does more research and challenges assumptions and learns more in the process.

What you say about relearning about acid and keeping quality, I relearned about fat and keeping quality from your post. It's definitely win-win, even if sometimes one learns one has a lot to be humble about.

Keep up the great work!

Soundman (David)

Marni's picture
Marni

I've been following this thread and hope you don't mind if I ask a question. 

But first, thank you David for the link to the malt info.  I really didn't know much of anything about it.  Carol, I'm going to look for the Bob's Red Mill Flour to try in my challahs.

Would it work to add a bit of ascorbic (citric) acid to the dough?  Or would it just make it sour or ruin it some other way?  I was thinking about the acid in sourdough helping with freshness, and wondered it that would work. Maybe combined with the malt, since it adds sweetness.  I'm just guessing- I am about as far from a scientist as you can get, but keeping challah fresh interests me.

Marni

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Hi Marni, and you've asked a good question. I venture forth to answer knowing full well I am ignorant of food science. You are forewarned!

What I know about ascorbic acid: French bakers add it to dough routinely. (I await Janedo telling me that's wrong.) OK, let me re-phrase that: I've read that French bakers use ascorbic acid routinely to help the yeast, yes, the commercial yeast.

I searched TFL for info, 'cause it's the best knowledge base I know of. And sure enough, Howard (aka holds99) had some answers:

"[Ascorbic acid] Creates an acidic environment for the yeast which helps it work better. It also acts as a preservative & deters mold and bacterial growth. With just a touch of ascorbic acid, your Artisan breads, the yeast will work longer and faster. French bakers add it to their French bread, baguette or boule recipe."

Here's the TFL link:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7416/ascorbic-acid

(I feel somewhat vindicated about acid and keeping quality!)

Soundman (David)

Janedo's picture
Janedo

No contradiction there! They add it all the times (except the REAL artisan bakers). It helps with loaf size as well, used to get those really fluffy loaves.

 

Jane 

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Thanks, Jane,

(I have to be careful shooting off my mouth, or keyboard, around all these sharp bakers!)

So what do the real artisanal French bakers say? Is vitamin-c a nono?

BTW, the Vermont-based King Arthur Flour sells a "French-Style Flour" which is high-ash and 11.5% protein, and has NO ascorbic acid. I'm going to try it for a sourdough baguette soon.

A propos of another thread and discussion, as per your suggestion I used a traditional 30-minute autolyse for my most recent sourdough. It worked just fine, and mixing the final dough together was much easier and smoother than my non-traditional 3-hour autolyse!

There's a good reason for some traditions, ain't it the truth?

Soundman (David)

SteveB's picture
SteveB

Marni, I'm not sure if you meant to identify ascorbic acid and citric acid as the same compound but just to set the record straight, ascorbic acid, also known as Vitamin C, is a different compound from citric acid.   

SteveB

www.breadcetera.com

Marni's picture
Marni

Thanks SteveB, in my haste, I wasn't clear.  They are indeed two different things.  I guess I was less sure of which one might work (if either one would at all) and was suggesting one or the other.  That or I need a science/writing class.

Marni

apprentice's picture
apprentice

According to my baker's manual, one of the uses of dry diastatic malt is indeed to lengthen shelf life. Does that through its ability to attract moisture.

Suggested use levels as % of flour weight, derived from an A.I.B. bulletin (American Institute for Baking):

0.5-1.5% for white pan bread

1.5-3.0% for sweet goods

0.5-2.0% for French/Italian bread

5.0-9.0% for whole wheat bread

1.5-6.0% for pretzels

3.0-5.5% for hard rolls

Sorry, no personal experience in using malt in Challah. But in its favour, malt also adds nutritive value (rich in vitamins and essential amino acids), browns the crust and adds an interesting flavour. Helps fermentation by strengthening the gluten and feeding the yeast.

Substituting malted flour for some of the flour in your formula might yield similar results as the malt powder. No idea how much.* To taste, I suppose. You'd want to do a test batch for sure before committing yourself to making 30 of them! Diastatic flour can lead to problems though, if too much is added. Come to think of it, dried malt is the most practial, only it must be kept protected from humidity when stored.

If you try adding malt in any form, do let us know the results.

Carol

* Added by EDIT: Just noticed in product details on malted barley flour at Bob's Red Mill site, they recommend 1/2 to 1 tsp for every 3 cups of flour. I'd go easy -- tricky stuff, that. But it's an option, at least, for those who can't find diastatic malt powder.

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

So I baked a few challahs using 1/2 tspn of diastatic malt powder to 4 cups of flour.  I made one challah plain and the other with cinnamon and apple juice.  The plain one ended up with a taste that was a little off - my husband asked me if I forgot the salt.  I think it was the "malty" after taste.  The other challah that had flavor in it tastes as good as usual, and now two days later it is still pretty fresh just sitting on the counter in a plastic bread bag.  So I think I will use it again, but only in bread that has a flavor to hide the malt.

Thanks to everyone for the interesting posts!  I will be sure to take photos of my big baking day this weekend and post them here once I figure out how. 

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

Thanks for all of the feedback.  I have gotten some diastatic malt from KA and am planning a test run tonight or tomorrow using Charol's weight chart.  I will let you know the results and will be sure to post some pictures of my challahs.  I have also read on this site that people use potato flakes to retain moisture and preserve freshness longer - sounds weird but worth a shot.

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

 PS David, because of kosher dietary laws, challah is made without milk or dairy products so that it can be eaten with a meat meal.

b_elgar's picture
b_elgar

Dairy challah is allowed if it is baked in a distinctive shape or has a distinctive mark so there is no chance it could be mistaken for a parve challah.

Bakeries will not make them, as it is too difficult to verify for use at home, but one can simply make it oneself. And a dairy recipe can easily be adapted for use on Shavuot, especially.

See references here:

http://www.koltorah.org/ravj/Dairy%20Bread.htm

 

Boron

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

Thank you for the clarification.  I always think how good a challah baked with butter would be but since all of my challah baking gear is Parve I have not bothered.  The challahs that I bake are for people who while not strictly kosher do at least follow the guidelines and hence I can not use the dairy products.   

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

mikekilian1947's picture
mikekilian1947

I wanted to clarify this string in my own mind.  Are you refering to dried malt extract powder OR ground malted barley flour?  As a brewer, these are two different things.  Just trying to understand this thread.

 

Mike

apprentice's picture
apprentice

Maybe the thread is confusing because different people are talking about different forms of malted barley. I hope she'll correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the original poster was talking about diastatic dried malt extract powder.

I gave my advice on that basis and mentioned that it's possible to use malted barley flour in its place, but scaling is really important because the wrong amount can lead to problems. I quoted one source's advice on appropriate amounts for the flour (Bob's Red Mill) but noted again that using the malted flour can be tricky.

Other people in the thread are talking about their experience with other forms of barley malt -- from the dried extract powder to the syrup to the flour, etc.

Understanding malted barley, its many forms and different uses has been quite a learning project for me lately. The one thing I know for sure is that I need to know whether what I'm about to use is diastatic or non-diastatic. For that, I rely on my supplier. Next, I need to know which one my formula is calling for. Sometimes, it's hard to tell.

In most cases, our bread recipes are calling for non-diastatic versions of whatever barley malt we can find because diastase (another name for amylase) is already present in flour corrected to an appropriate level (one hopes) by the miller. Corrected because amylase is present naturally in the grain, but for consistency's sake with a particular harvest, may need to be adjusted up or down. In other words, bakers are usually looking only for increased browning and that nutty, malty flavour -- no impact on the yeast. Usually.

So here's what I *think* I know about the different forms now (and I'm asking for correction if there's somebody out there who knows for sure that I've got it wrong -- no guesses please).

There are two main forms -- the flour and the extract:

1)   Malt flour which is available in two distinct types:

  • diastatic, dried at low temp thus retaining activities of the diastatic enzymes
  • non-diastatic, darker in colour, treated at high temp which kills the enzymes

2)   Malt extract, created by crushing malted grain in water and concentrating to produce syrup. If the concentration process is continued, a dry crystallized powdery product results that is essentially, dried malt syrup. Sometimes called extract, crystals, powder, etc. -- manufacturers vary in terminology. Diastatic versions are made with various levels of active enzyme. Medium is recommended for most applications that call for increased diastatic activity.

The extract is available as follows:

  • diastatic version, syrup
  • diastatic version, dry powder
  • non-diastatic version, syrup
  • non-diastatic version, dry powder

Diastatic and non-diastatic versions of the flour and the extract both add sweetness, colour, nutrition and flavour. The diastatic versions are also thought to help fermentation by strengthening the gluten and increasing shelf life. It is the latter quality that the original poster sought for her Challah.

I hope this is useful. It was a good opportunity for me to put into words, as clearly as possible, what I believe I have learned so far. As a brewer, you may have additional, important insights and information to offer.

Carol

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Carol,

Your post really helped me. I bought my diastatic malt powder from KA, and after I read your post I went to their website and discovered that it is indeed malted barley flour. Nothing wrong with that of course, but I had misconceived it as the extract. (Now I want to compare it to the crystals.)

And of course right their on their website they mention enhanced shelf life! Memory remembers what it wants to, at least sometimes.

Soundman (David)

apprentice's picture
apprentice

Thanks, David. I probably helped myself more than anyone else by taking the time to put down in writing what I learned. There is such a confusing array of products out there calling themselves "barley malt" or "malted barley."

Thanks to Mike the Brewer, too, asking for clarification of our terms! Without his post, I probably wouldn't have gone the extra mile. And without Sharon's subsequent post on the KA product, I wouldn't have seen the need to go back and edit further to be crystal clear (no pun intended) about the two types -- flour & extract.

The learning continues! :) But I'm off on a short holiday now. May be posting. Will certainly be lurking. But not much baking. Like Lynne I fed my starter this morning - made it extra stiff and tucked in the fridge. There's some in the freezer too as a backup.

Catch you later!

Carol

p.s. I looked at the KA site and couldn't tell if their product was flour or extract. That's why I said Sharon would likely have to check with them. Did you see a reference to it as flour? Musta missed it!

Soundman's picture
Soundman

Carol,

I was looking at the product page and still wondering, and then I saw and clicked on the Nutritional Details link, and voila there was: "Malted Barley Flour", as well as wheat flour I might add.

Soundman (David) 

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

Who knew that this question would lead to such an interesting conversation.  I love that baking is such a science (which plays to my love of biology and chemestry). I was indeed talking about diastatic malt flour and here is the link to the KA product that I used the other day.  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/detail.jsp?id=3413

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

apprentice's picture
apprentice

You'd have to confirm this with KA, Sharon, but I believe the product you bought from them is dried malt powder, which is an extract -- not malted barley flour. As our brewer friend points out, malt flour and the dried extract are two distinct products. Each is produced by an entirely different process.

The chart I gave you from the AIB applies to diastatic extract aka powder aka crystals. The other guidelines (1/2 to 1 tsp per 3 cups of flour) refer to malted barley flour.

The dry extract is indeed a flour-like powder, so even the suppliers add to our confusion sometimes by using the terms "flour" and "powder" interchangeably.

I gather, though, that you got the information you needed to do a successful test bake? That's the main thing!

Carol

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

That information helps me explain what I did, so now I know more about my own experiments:

When I soaked barley and took sprouted grains and dried them, they were malted and diastatic. To take these dried malted grains and make flour, would create Diastatic Malt flour. This would affect shelf life and improve gluten. (But this Flour contains more grain bits and therefore harder to measure for a recipe than malt extract would be. It would take more, but how much more depends on the grain sample itself.)

But I didn't stop there. I changed my malted grains to non-diastatic by roasting them, killing the enzymes. I then ground them into flour so was left with Non-Diastatic Malt flour. It does not affect gluten or add shelf life but can used for color and flavor. One adds more or less depending on the desired color of crust and temperature of bake (a correlation here). That will take more experimentation.

Now I also know enough to call my dark roasted (exposed to high heat and therefore killed enzyme) barley flour (I just purchased) non-diastatic it cannot add shelf life or help gluten, it just adds color and flavor it may not even be malted (which requires sprouting).

Mini O

junglis's picture
junglis

Just chiming in to this really fun conversation!

I've never used malt in challah either, I've used brown sugar before, but I'm not jewish, so don't call me to task on it.

However, ascorbic acid (vitamin c) and niacin improve the shelf life of baked bread. Also, just as a mixing tip, if the total percentage of the sugar(s) is more than 5%, it may effect the way your dough stays hydrated during bulk fermentation. What I mean when I say that is the amount of sugars (malt) may be effecting the hydration of the dough that you manipulate into braids/spirals for proof.

I think this may also result in a drier (less shelf-life) bread.

If you have a mixer that will let you mess around (10-20qt planetary, etc) try adding the sugar later in the mix.
If not, try just hydrating the dough a bit more if you can if the sugar is over 5%.

junglis

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

Interesting - I was just reading in Alton brown's book about counting sugar as a liquid.  Ie. the more sugar you use the less water you should use.  The more I learn the more confused I get.  I should stop reading and just bake!

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

I did not use the malt.  The one test run I did had so-so results.  I did,however manage to get out 32 challahs on time.  I will tell you that at midnight - after being in the kitchen for more than 11 hours -  I was yelling at the dough to "RISE!" and it seemed like my yeast was mocking me. I took a few days off and started baking again yesterday :)

I don't know how to post photos on this forum, but if you go to my web site click on "behind the scenes" to see the table covered with challah! 

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

That table full of Challah is impressive. I can't imagine baking that many n a day!

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

I have never seen malt used in challah.  due to the fact that true challah must be parve.

Parve not meat or dairy. no milk products  or anamal products can be used because in jewish tradition milk and meat cannot be consumed at the same meal. so the bread must be made so it can be comsumed with ether.

of coures if your not jewish it realy doesent matter but a true challah contains water eggs sugar salt oil yeast and flour only.

to increas shellf life you could add more oil (not much) and use half egg yolks and half whole eggs. dont use all egg yolks because eggs have a drying effect. you could also replace some of the sugar with glucouse (corn syrup) which has the abilaty to absorb water from the air.

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

According to the package it is malted barley  - malting being a sprouting process.  I wold not use it if it had animal products or dairy as I am baking pareve challahs.

What ratio would you replace the sugar with corn syrup?  1 to 1 or is corn syrup sweeter?

 Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com

nbicomputers's picture
nbicomputers

1 to 1 is fine for the sugar corn syrup replacment.

as for the barly malt is it kosher  :)

dougal's picture
dougal

You might try using soya milk - a vegan-friendly (dairy-free) product! 

If you use this as half to 2/3 of the recipe's liquid, you should get a noticeably soft, moist loaf that stays that way for longer. (And a stickier dough on the way there!)

 

Using less yeast, and consequently a longer fermentation, definitely helps delay staling.

As does a touch of acid (like the odd spoonful of vinegar - I've used wine vinegar).

It may be that the longer fermentation produces more acid (or that excess yeast promotes drying).

However, I cannot see that the typical dose of Vitamin C (less than an ounce to a ton of flour - 20 parts in a million) is going to produce much acidity. More likely, it'll be doing its usual job of strengthening gluten (or rather reducing its weakening) so that a wetter dough can still rise. And a wetter dough, moister crumb, means slower to dry.

I've read of French bakers adding a little very finely milled bran ("remoulage") with exactly that in mind. The bran holds extra hydration added to the dough, and the bread dries out slower. 

Yes, I know that staling is not just drying, but it is an important part of the process.

Incidentally, the French "Traditional" flour is allowed to contain 0.5% soya flour (for bread shelf life?), 2% bean flour (for, IIRC, whiteness Calvel says disapprovingly) and 0.3% malted wheat (not barley) flour - presumably for the active malt enzymes. But "tradition" does not permit the VitC that is permitted even in 'organic' flour in the UK. Second time this week I've come across someone thinking Citric Acid was VitC - it isn't! The chemical name for VitC is Ascorbic Acid.

With malt, the essential question is whether its being used for its enzymes ("diastatic") or just its "malt" flavour. Disappointingly, Suas just speaks of "malt".  

I've not previously heard of it being suggested to prolong shelf life.  

Commercially, various 'humectants' (moisture attracters) are used. Probably the least offensive of these would be fructose. Being less sweet-tasting than 'ordinary sugar', more can be used - hence the recommendation towards "high fructose corn syrup" (something demonised by some, and with no retail demand/availability here in the UK). 

 

Beyond that, its down to the storage conditions. But I'm sure you know not to put bread in the fridge!  

dougal's picture
dougal

It didn't seem to take the post so I retried - and double posted! Oooops - sorry!

skygoer's picture
skygoer

I come to the discussion late, and want to thank all for the really great info. I'm a novice baker. I bought some "Brewers Gold Dry Malt Extract" at a brewer's supply store because I couldn't find "malt powder" anywhere in Hawaii, including the two commercial food distributors that I know about here. A beverage supply store here carries it, but told me they can't sell it to me because they signed an exclusive distribution agreement with Baskin Robbins! The brewer supply folks didn't know if it was the same stuff bakers use, but told me that some superstar chefs in Honolulu buy it from them, so I thought, okay, I think I've got it. I'm looking for that sweet sort of Ovaltine-y flavor, but my sweetbread tasted like beer! I started with a sponge and added the malt later when making the dough. I haven't got a clue what % malt to flour weight I had, but I used 1T malt, 2 1/2 c. flour in sponge and 1 1/2 c. flour in dough ... lots of eggs and butter (I don't have to worry about dietary restrictions); a long knead; two rises: first about 2 1/2 hrs at room temp and second overnight in the fridge; shaped into loaves (six balls in loaf pan) and another 2 hr rise at room temp before baking. Maybe too long a fermentation? Maybe too much malt? Anybody know what might have happened?

Mahalo!   Janet

btw, bread stayed soft and moist for almost a week in a paper bag in my tambour-door wooden breadbox!  

sharsilber's picture
sharsilber

I ordered the malt powder from King Arthur Flour though I imagine shiping to Hawii is expensive (that is the price you pay for living in paradise) In the end I used it once and never again - my challah had a funny after taste.  I have found that the bread keeps well in a plastic bag for at least a day and all my clients are reporting that they have finished every last crumb by the end of dinner - so the shelf life was not as important as I though it would be :)

Sharon

www.thebraidedloaf.com