Diastatic Malt Powder Is The Secret Ingredient For Taller Bread

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Whether you are an avid home baker or simply trying your hand at it for fun on a rainy weekend, making bread can either be an incredibly satisfying, or an incredibly frustrating, creative experience. You may be dreaming of re-creating the gorgeous artisanal loaves you see at the local bakery, but your best home-baked bread just doesn't have the same freshly risen height. Fortunately, there is an ingredient that just might be professional bakers' best-kept trick.

Diastatic malt powder is an ingredient that's commonly used in baking. Many people, however, may not be familiar with what it is or why bakers use it. Simply put, diastatic malt powder is a type of malted barley flour that has "diastatic" properties thanks to its enzymes that break down starches into sugars. This special type of flour is a useful ingredient that bakers use to create a better rise along with other more desirable bread qualities such as a more fermentable dough, better crust, and longer shelf life.

What is diastatic malt powder?

But why do bakers use diastatic malt powder? The answer lies in how these enzymes affect the baking process. When added to bread dough, for example, diastatic malt powder helps to break down the starches in the flour into simple sugars. This creates a more fermentable dough, which leads to a few key benefits.

First and most importantly, the bread will have a better rise (via Bakerpedia). The yeast in the dough feeds on the simple sugars produced by the enzymes, creating more carbon dioxide and causing the dough to rise more easily. The bread will also form a better crust. The simple sugars produced by the enzymes help to caramelize the crust during baking, giving it a deeper color and more complex flavor. 

Finally, diastatic malt powder can extend the shelf life of bread according. The enzymes in the diastatic malt powder help to break down the starches in the bread over time. This keeps the bread from becoming stale, maintaining its freshness longer.

How to bake with diastatic malt powder

Diastatic malt powder can be used in a variety of baked goods, including breads, bagels, and pretzels. It's especially useful in recipes that call for a long fermentation process, such as sourdough bread, because it helps to create a more active and vigorous dough. By breaking down the starches in flour into simple sugars, this special ingredient helps to create a more flavorful dough too. 

When using diastatic malt powder, follow a recipe that specifically calls for the special type of flour. You will simply need to mix a small amount in with the regular flour you use according to King Arthur Baking — but keep in mind that the proofing time may be altered from a less active dough.

It's also important to note that not all malted barley flour is diastatic (via King Arthur Baking). If you're looking to use diastatic malt powder in your baking, be sure to look for flour that specifically states that it is "diastatic." Non-diastatic malted barley flour is still useful in baking, but it won't have the same enzymatic properties as diastatic malt powder.

Where to buy diastatic malt powder

One option is to look for diastatic malt powder at specialty baking supply stores or online retailers that cater to bakers, like Modernist Pantry. These stores often carry a wide variety of baking ingredients, including diastatic malt powder. You may also be able to find diastatic malt powder at health food stores or even some large retailers like Walmart.

Another option is to look for diastatic malt powder at breweries or home-brew supply stores. Diastatic malt powder is also commonly used in the brewing industry to convert starches in grain into fermentable sugars. As a result, many breweries and home-brew supply stores carry diastatic malt powder.

If you're having trouble finding diastatic malt powder locally, your best bet is ordering it online. There are a variety of online retailers like Amazon that specialize in baking ingredients, and many of them carry diastatic malt powder. Just be sure to order from a reputable retailer to ensure that you're getting a high-quality product.

With a little bit of research, you should be able to find a reliable source for this scientifically-proven secret ingredient.