Subject: 11. What is diastatic malt?
Malt can be diastatic or non-diastatic. Non-diastatic is simply added as a sweetener, diastatic malt breaks down the starch in dough to yield sugars on which the yeast can feed. Having some around in long fermented breads is very important.
Mills will typically put in 1/10% malted barley flour (barley because barley malt is cheaper than wheat malt) to provide diastase (enzyme), which converts the starch in damaged starch granules to sugars that are utilizable by the yeast over an extended ferment. The use of more diastatic malt than this can result in slack, sticky dough, and will not improve yeast action. Malt is not made from cooked grain, but rather sprouted grain.
Diastatic malt powder is powdered malted grain, usually barley, but wheat, and rice may also be malted. "Diastatic" refers to the diastatic enzymes that are created as the grain sprouts. These convert starches to sugars, which yeasties eat. Maltose, a simple sugar that yeasties love is usually made in abundance by the enzymes.
Diastatic malt powder is available in some health food stores as well as homebrew supply shops.
You can make your own: sprout a cup of wheat berries by covering them with water in a jar for 12 or so hours, dump out the water & rinse with clean water, and place the jar in a darkish, warmish, place. Rinse the berries every day with clean water and return to their place.
In 2-3 days they will begin to sprout. When the sprout is as long as the berries themselves, dump them out on paper towels, dry them off, and set on a cookie sheet in the sun for a day or so to dry out. Then put the cookiesheet in a 100F oven for an hour or three. Do not let the temp get above 130F or the enzymes will be destroyed.
Then grind the dried malted berries into flour, and use it in your favorite recipe at a rate of approx. 1t. per loaf.
I did this for the first time last week, and the bread made with is has a lovely wheaty note that was not produced in the past when I used brewer's (barley) malt.
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