Which Malt to Choose. A comprehensive guide on market supply

29 Jun 2024 | the Diastatic Malt | 0 comments

In the previous article we saw what malting is and how the three different types of diastatic malt are obtained. Now let’s look in detail at what the differences and areas of use are in order to understand which is the best choice for various production needs.
Let’s go in order of production:

the first result of malting is the Malted Flour.

A product composed mainly of starch. It is the most popular on the market, but also the least suitable for all end users. In fact, this product is mainly used to correct defects in flours with a suboptimal falling index. The need to add diastasic malt in a dough arises mainly from the goal of wanting to improve the rising process, and in this process the addition of starches alone makes no sense; in fact, it may even become counterproductive. Contrary to popular belief, the maturation process of starches is not fundamentally for the purpose of digestibility, because from this point of view it is sufficient to proceed with careful cooking to ensure their complete gelatinization. Even the idea that a long ripening time (such as the very popular one of leaving dough in the refrigerator for days), in order to transform starches into sugars, gives us greater digestibility is yet another nonsense child of the net, for multiple reasons.
We start from the fact that enzymes attack only the “broken” starches in the flour (which are a small part of the total), and arrive at the certainty that long maturation must be matched by adequate fermentation (which cannot take place at low temperatures) in order to allow the yeasts to “consume” the sugars derived from maturation, and thus avoid glycemic spikes.
Thus, adding malted flour to a dough is justified (provided that a proper baking process then proceeds) in a context where an enzyme supply is needed, such as to supplement a flour that lacks it.

Miglioratore per Farine

Diastatic Malt Flour is a natural improver that is used to balance the enzyme activity of a Flour with suboptimal Falling Index

But how can I know if the flour I use has a suboptimal falling index (Falling Number)?
Today, milling industries subject flours to complex tests before putting them on the market, and Falling Number is one of the values most often considered. It follows that the choice to use malted flour must be motivated by other needs, but what might they be? For example, the search to intensify the organoleptic properties, and in this case a 100% malted barley flour can be useful, while a malted wheat flour is much less so.
Let’s be clear about one thing, however: the use of a malted flour also brings enzymes, and if the dough is handled correctly, this product also finds its place as an improver.
The point, however, is that a good Diastatic Malt Extract is preferable in all respects, so we should ask ourselves: why is it that if we go to Amazon and type in “Diastatic Malt” the best-selling products are made from malted wheat flour instead of Malt Extract?

The answer is:
  1. savings (malted flours made from soft wheat, i.e., nonprecious raw material, coupled with the greater ease of production, result in lower costs)
  2. Practicality (weighing flour is much easier than dosing a sticky dough or a very fine, hygroscopic sugar to the gram)
  3. ignorance (don’t hold it against Amazon’s malted flour customers, but after reading this blog I’m convinced they won’t be able to help but reflect on it).

I should add a 4th point that picks up some of the first, but I refer you to the article on the adulteration, manipulation, and menacing labeling of diastatic malt…
To satisfied users of malted flour, I can give only one piece of advice: choose the one that is 100 percent barley and mix it with a little pure Crystallized Extract and your results will improve significantly.

Coadiuvante alla Lievitazione

Diastatic Malt Extract is a natural leavening aid, useful for multiple aspects

We now come to the second result in the production stage, the diastatic paste extract.

Mistakenly called liquid malt, dough extract is the most versatile diastatic product. There are very few areas where its use is not recommended, and it can be considered for all intents and purposes the best leavening aid of all. It is a concentrate of sugars, fragrances and enzymes, to such an extent that there are recipes and processing methods where the use or non-use of a good diastatic extract in the dough can determine the success or total failure of the recipe, such as in Focaccia Genovese or 100% Biga Bread. (See article “why use diastasic malt”).Why can very small percentages of diastasic extract make so much difference?

The extract is a concentrate of different kinds of sugars, not simple glucose, but dextrose, maltose, and sucrose. We all know that sugars are the main foods for yeasts and they have preferences as to which one to use first. It follows that a multi-sugar supply will ensure a more stable and prolonged leavening of the dough, and thus more development, fragrance and crispness. But that is not all, because a sugar intake in some cases could be counterproductive if not adequately supported by enzymatic action. We have seen how multiple types of enzymes develop during the second production step to obtain a malt extract from malted flour, and this is the second important difference (after sugar contents) between flour and extract.

Not only Alpha and Beta amylase then, but a complete enzymatic action to improve gluten texture, friability, digestibility and storage.
It is therefore obvious that it is the product of choice as an adjuvant, to be honest, the question of why we should choose a Paste Extract rather than a malted flour or crystalline is not even to be asked, unless we have specific needs (along with expertise and awareness), diastatic malt paste is the only choice, period.

Non solo Lievitazione

Crystalline Diastasic Malt Extract is popular in pastry and bakery because it adds more crispness to the properties of the extract

Finally, here we come to crystallized malt, the latest derivative of turning a grain into a malt extract. We have said that the paste one is always the right choice and also the crystalline one tends to be lower in diastatic power, so why should we choose it? As I have mentioned in other articles, it is not the higher diastatic power that determines better quality, but mainly the enzymatic activity. The prolongation of the cooking stage during malt drying further concentrates sugars but deactivates many enzymes, mainly Alpha and Beta amylases, as a result, there is a higher concentration of proteolytic enzymes in the crystalline, for the same weight compared to the paste extract. These particular enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of gluten, basically anticipating what happens to a dough that reaches excessive fermentation: the dough loses strength and therefore develops less, but the final product will be more crumbly and digestible. I would not like to pass the notion that by using crystalline a dough does not develop and gives only dry products; this is not the case. It has an impact on leavening much like malt dough and can give unique organoleptic characteristics, but it must be used with great skill so that protease does not take too much of an upper hand in our dough.

Used in the right amount it will improve many aspects of our product, most suitable in the production of crackers and breadsticks, or particular buns, but not only. Since it is a dry product, it does not affect the hydration of doughs and is therefore widely used in dry pastry products such as cookies, shortcrust pastry, puff pastry, and so on. In the area of leavened products, I would especially recommend it in direct doughs, when we need to speed up all those processes that will allow us to get a good baked product even if we have little time.

By dealing with these differences in the use of the three products derived from malting, one might think that we have covered the topic in a comprehensive way, except that unfortunately the market takes care of it to complicate our lives.
The confusion is called “Blend” which is a mixture of several types of malt, created ad hoc with the sole purpose of selling poor quality products by exploiting the famous ignorance on the subject.
There is much more I could write about this but I prefer to refer you to reading the article that deals with the subject of diastatic malt manipulations and adulterations, I am sure that after reading it carefully you will avoid buying them, because it just isn’t worth it.


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