It’s not the first time I am using diastatic barley malt in bread. Years ago, I bought from King Arthur, a bag of Diastatic malted barley by mail order sent to a house in San Francisco where I was visiting for a few days. I recall I brought the bag home, but used the malt only a few times, and I wasn’t impressed with the results. It’s probably because I didn’t know how to use the malt! After some time lapses, the powder became expired, and was thrown out. Recently, as my interest in obtaining higher oven rises in my breads overcame me, I have revisited the use of barley malt.
Malted barley, Diax, or Diastatic Malt Flour is used in small quantities (about 10g per kg flour) in your usual bread recipe to enable the bread to rise better, and for a softer crumb and more crust colour. During the dough forming stage, malted barley flour provides specific enzyme activity that converts the starches in the wheat flour into simple sugars. These sugars are very important as they provide a food source for the yeast to maintain proper fermentation activity and aids in proper crust browning. Diastatic: This is the kind normally meant when malted barley flour is mentioned: it’s the one that has the active enzymes in it and is the one used for baking.
I found it difficult to source for diastatic barley malt powder as most vendors sell these in huge quantities mainly to commercial and professional bakeries. One night I came across the Breadtopia web site and discovered that they do sell in small packages to people like me! It wasn’t cheap, but I purchased an 8 oz. bag and waited to try it out again. Took about 10 days to be delivered.
200 gm French bread flour 1/2 tsp dried yeast
100 gm Japanese bread flour 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp barley malt 210 gm water (70% hydration)
Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowel, and lastly add the water to form a dough, ensuring that there are no dry spots of flour. Leave the dough well covered, to proof on the table counter overnight at room temperature.
Next day, after relaxing and shaping the dough, proof the dough for 2 hours in a banneton. The two pictures show the dough proofing in a banneton and after it’s removal from the banneton before slashing. I use a baking sheet, cut to allow the dough to be gently lowered into the very hot Dutch oven.
Bake at 260˚C for 30 minutes in a Dutch oven with the cover on; and 20 minutes at 205˚C with the cover off.
After the loaf has cooled down, it is cut to show the ample crust and crumb.The crust is crispy, the crumb has a fairly open structure.
A close-up to show more details of the crust and crumb.
“Without wishing in the slightest degree to disparage the skill and labour of breadmakers by trade, truth compels us to assert our conviction of the superior wholesomeness of bread made in our own homes.”
Eliza Acton, ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ (1845)