The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Is Malted Barley Still Being Added To Commercial White Flours?

tpassin's picture
tpassin

Is Malted Barley Still Being Added To Commercial White Flours?

I just noticed that the ingredients lists for the two white flours I use the most no longer include barley malt.  The flours are Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose and King Arthur Bread flours.  Instead, they include "Enzymes". Of course I'm aware that the purpose of using diastatic malts is to add certain enzymes.  I wonder if these flour suppliers are getting enzymes from some other source than the traditional malts?

TomP

UVCat's picture
UVCat

just checked the CM website and the Artisan Baker’s Craft Plus flour still lists malted barley as the malting treatment. That is interesting that KA no longer uses barley malt. I wonder about Bob’s Red Mill which is the other one I see most available where I live.

-c

BrianShaw's picture
BrianShaw

... is just one of many ways to introduce enzymes, like alpha-amylase, into flour.

For instance, in an approved USDA flour specification, one manufacturer is using fungal amylase, a different source of the enzyme:

"Ingredient Statement: Hard wheat flour enriched (niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid) enzyme. No other ingredients, carriers, or additives can be present in the flour.

Enzyme System: 1.90 Grams of Fungal Amylace per 100 pounds of flour Minimum 2.35 Grams of Fungal Amylace per 100 pounds of flour Maximum"

And in the US Code of Federal Regulations, CFR Title 21, part 136 (Bakery products) subpart B , secion 136-110 (bread, rolls, and buns) the requirements for standardized bakery products includes the generic inclusion of  "(9) Enzyme active preparations."

Precaud's picture
Precaud

in both regular and organic versions.

suave's picture
suave

Why not just contact KA and ask them?

BrianShaw's picture
BrianShaw
tpassin's picture
tpassin

But on my bag of Bread flour, behold! no malt:

 

BrianShaw's picture
BrianShaw

I guess asking for clarification might be best!

https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/bakers-hotline

the label I posted above was from the packaging pdf on their web site. Perhaps their supplier is using fungal or bacterial enzymes. It probably doesn’t matter what source they come from. 

tpassin's picture
tpassin

 It probably doesn’t matter what source they come from. 

Perhaps it doesn't, I don't know. My question was about whether suppliers are changing from malt to "enzymes".  If yes, we could try to get into the question of whether there's much difference.  I imagine that the big suppliers are motivated to have their products to continue to bake the same way despite any changes.

BrianShaw's picture
BrianShaw

I’m curious, too, It’s a very interesting topic!

Looking at a professional bread and pastry textbook, there is a notation about fungal amylase being “more predictable” than malted enzyme sources because malt has other enzymes that are less predictable than fungal enzymes. That speaks to your consistency hypothesis, which I agree with. 

I also wonder about labeling regulations, which I tried looking at but never completed the task. Product labeling and ingredients identification can be fickle and sometimes seems to require specific sources and other times seems to prefer generic. 

From what I read there are specific lab testing of flour quality and characteristics, including enzymatic levels, conducted routinely by millers. 

tpassin's picture
tpassin

I've just sent a request for information to KA about this.  I'll post what they say when I hear from them.

tpassin's picture
tpassin

Here's what I just got from KA:

Thanks for contacting us here at King Arthur Baking Company.

It is true that we're in the process of transitioning from adding a small percentage of malted barley flour to enzymes in some of our wheat flours such as All Purpose and Bread. It is a very small percentage intended to improve the flour's performance, not used as a filler. Our packaging has been updated to indicate that the flour contains either malted barley or enzymes (since we're still transitioning over to enzymes).

We used malted barley previously because it is a source of enzymes, but found that the level and efficacy of those enzymes can vary from batch to batch. The activity of straight enzymes varies less, so using them creates an even more consistent flour. Also, the process of malting barley is very water and energy intensive, and we were looking for alternatives.

The enzyme added is called fungal alpha-amylase. Enzymes have been used in food products for over 40 years to to help create nutrition in flour for feeding yeasts. Adding enzyme results in improved bread volume and crumb texture in baked goods.

Rest assured this change should not impact your baked goods in any way. If you do find our flour is performing differently for any reason, we hope you'll reach out to us and let us know. Ensuring the integrity of our goods is one of King Arthur's topmost commitments, so that you as a baker have peace of mind and know you'll get excellent products and experiences each and every time you bake.

 

BrianShaw's picture
BrianShaw

A quick and very informative reply from King Arthur. Very impressive (as always with them).

BrianShaw's picture
BrianShaw

Hi Tom, as a fellow retired engineer I tend to go a bit crazy with research. The past couple days I've been trying to determine a relationship between diastatic malted and fungal alpha-amylase additives. (I have both and haven't noticed a difference, except in the amounts various recipes specify.)

This morning I pulled off the shelf a professional bread baker textbook. In a section about enzymes used in baking, it confirms that some millers have a preference for fungal sources rather than malted because it is more predictable and avoids (a) "other enzymes in malt that are undesireable in certian cases" and (b) avoiding potential bug infestations from the sweetness of malt. The text also states that there is no noticable difference in baking between the two sources "when used properly".

In another thread, though, I was asking about the potential difference in diastatic power between the various sources but that research remains incomplete as of now.

A quick message to the KA hotline might reveal what their millers are actually using. I recently asked a supplier of diastatic malt powder if htey had a spec sheet or informationon the diastatic power of hteir product. So far, only crickets.  Hopefully KA will be more responsive.

tpassin's picture
tpassin

Brian, I'm hoping to avoid getting sucked into a swamp of malt!  In another thread Mariana wrote that malts also contain sugar and proteases. She wrote that you want the protease when very strong flour overdoes the gluten and after cooling the crumb becomes unpleasantly resistant to eating - not something I've experienced yet.  Usually I'm trying to keep the protease from degrading my gluten during long ferments.

At this point, I'm a little unclear about how much of what is supplied by the bare flour and by the malt: yeast, LAB, enzymes, proteases, sugars.

To complicate things, apparently it's different for rye flour, which is normally unmalted as supplied.

BrianShaw's picture
BrianShaw

I just want to bake bread and trying to not fall into the same vat of malt!

tyouel's picture
tyouel

My popovers were not rising like they used to, so I embarked on an investigation to figure out why.  After following the myriad of advice on baking podcasts and YouTube channels, I still hadn’t achieved what I would call a success.  I then noticed the change in flour ingredients that others here have mentioned, specifically the replacement of Barley Malt with an Enzyme by many flour suppliers including King Author and Bob’s unbleached organic AP flour. 

When I spoke with Alex from the King Author hot line, he confirmed that KA has switched from Barley Malt to the Fungal Alpha Amylase Enzyme.

Below is the email response I received from KA who maintain there should be no noticeable change to your baking.  My results do not align with their findings.

 

Thanks for contacting us here at King Arthur Baking Company.

Popovers are raised with egg not baking powder or yeast and there is less than 1% of either the malted barley or enzyme used in the flour to help yeast activity. The tiny amount of malt or enzyme would have not effect on popover rise. Any difference in results adding 1.5 teaspoons of Diastatic Malt to the recipe, about ten times what is in the flour, would give more browning but would not likely improve rise. Active enzymes in diastatic malt help yeast grow fully and efficiently throughout the fermentation period, yielding a good, strong rise and great oven-spring. We used malted barley because it is a source of enzymes but found that the level and efficacy of those enzymes can vary just a smidge from batch to batch, again the enzymes help the yeast. The activity of straight enzymes varies less, so using them creates an even more consistent flour. Any difference in results is probably due to other factors like moisture content. If your theory were correct you would be getting better and more constant rise with the enzyme flour. 

As the enzyme and malt are only related to yeast baking they don't have any relation to popovers. The enzyme has been used and is approved in Europe for decades. It simply gives better results with yeast in our testing and there are a growing number of people with barley allergies. Again the amount is so minute, less than 1%, it will have virtually no effect on any recipes not using yeast.

  • Most other manufacturers of flour and yeasted mixes use enzymes. This includes Whole Foods 365, Gold Medal, Pillsbury and many private label brands of conventional flour. 
  • Enzymes have been used in food products for over 40 years

Please let us know if we can answer any additional questions or assist you further Good news: I have solved my problem with Popovers not rising by adding Diastatic Barley Malt powder back to the recipe!  My popovers are rising as high or even higher than ever.

I am super interested in others’ Popover experiences…

Thanks 

Ted

Integralista's picture
Integralista

As noted by somebody else, DME contains other stuff: sugar, beta-amylase, proteolytic enzymes. Beta-amylase works in conjunction with alpha-amylase to degrade starch to simpler sugars, which are food to yeast. Alpha-amylase alone does half of the job, which is maybe wanted (too much food for yeast, too fast fermentation).

Proteolytic enzymes will damage the gluten net if let to work long enough (i.e. too long), that might be detrimental to the bread.

I suppose US manufacturers switch to alpha-amylase, from DME, because the switch makes their flour more "mono-dimensional", more predictable, easier to work with. Alpha-amylase and beta-amylase have their ideal environment at different temperatures. Some users might find beta-amylase working a lot while some other might find it not working at all. The interaction of the two is a bit of a complication (as a homebrewer, I can tell you).

In a rational world, one would buy flour, and then one can decide whether to add DME, or alpha-amylase, or both beta-amylase and alpha-amylase, in different moment or at the same moment, or whatever, or nothing at all. But you have to cross an ocean to find that rational world :-)