The New Bakers Dozen
Malt extract?

The The Bakers Dozen: Malt extract?
By d. on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 10:29 pm: Edit

Can anyone please give me more information on the purpose or function of using malt extract in bread doughs? I've never used it and would like to know if it makes a big difference in the texture and flavor of bread doughs. Also, is it used for all types of bread doughs?
I took a little demo. class recently with Peter Reinhart and he made the most amazing wet dough breads. The flavor and texture were incredible. He did not elaborate, though, on the function of the ingredient I just mentioned.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Monday, September 25, 2000 - 11:30 pm: Edit

Peter is a great teacher. The slack doughs like Ciabatta and Pulgesi are my favourites.

Here is my understanding of malt extract. Sorry if their is more chemisty than you would like, but I'm a great believer that artisan bread is half technique and half science

Malt comes in two forms, diastatic and non-diastatic. Flour consists of large chains of glucose molecules known as polysaccharides. Malt contains enzymes which break down the long polysaccharide starches in flour into pairs of glucose molecules called maltose, a disaccharide. More enzynmes then break the maltose into two separate glucose molecules, known as monosaccharides or simply sugars. I've included a chart of the mono- and disaccharides below.

Glucose Sucrose (Glucose + Fructose)
Fructose Maltose (Glucose + Glucose)
Galactose Lactose (Glucose + Galactose)

Diastatic malt is typically used in the production of naturally leavened doughs. Natural yeast is much weaker than commercial yeast and the enzymes in the malt help to break down the starch in the flour into an easy meal for the yeast. It is generally used for the first few feedings of a starter when the yeast is not numerous or strong.

Non-diastatic malt has these enzymes neutralized, so it's primary function in baking is as a sweetener. Ingredients such as sugar, honey, and malt generally provide an easy to digest food source for yeast and they may all be substituted 1 for 1 with each other. Of course, different sweeteners lend different flavors to the bread. Someone recently mentioned using malt syrup in pizza dough, which is a favorite of mine too.

Earlier I said that diastatic malt could probably be used in place of non-diastatic. I've done some thinking and, based on my knowledge and reading about breads, the use of diastatic malt in a final dough may overfeed the yeast, especially if it is commercial, which will result in overstuffed, lazy yeast and a lackluster bread.

For more information my favorite book is called The Village Baker, by Joe Ortiz. Peter Reinhart's own book, Crust and Crumb, is good too, but I find myself picking up Ortiz's book much more often.

By raine on Tuesday, September 26, 2000 - 10:36 am: Edit

Are we going to be tested on this later? : )

By d. on Tuesday, September 26, 2000 - 06:39 pm: Edit

Thanks Mikeh! Guess I'm gonna have to get me some to try out. I deal with a lot of pizza and focccia dough, so I'm really interested in the outcome of my product using malt syrup. Rykoff, our food service provider doesn't even carry it.

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