What is Diastatic Malt?

 It is a well-kept secret of artisan bread bakers. Diastatic malt is made from barley grain which is sprouted then dried at a low temperature then milled into a powder. Diastatic malt powder is rich with minerals and enzymes that act as natural preservatives and boost the nutritional value of breads. Further, the chemical reaction of the malt with yeast/sourdough and flour enhances the texture, size, appearance and flavour of your bread.

"Diastatic" refers to the diastatic enzymes that are created as the grain sprouts. These enzymes when mixed into bread dough convert starches in the flour to sugars, which feed the yeast/sourdough. Artisan sourdough and yeasted breads with DM added will have superior crust colour, crumb texture and a sweeter flavour. DM is very important to have in doughs (yeasted or sourdough) that have long fermentation times or are retarded overnight in the fridge.

Only a small amount of DM is added to the flour, typically 0.5% to 3% of the total amount of flour used for a loaf of bread. For example a loaf of bread containing 1000g of flour @ 0.5%, you would use 5g of DM (a teaspoon). As Diastatic malt powder is such a specialised and unknown to most ingredient, you won’t find it in retail shops.

The functional difference between diastatic and non-diastatic malt is enzyme content. Diastatic malt contains an enzyme (diastase – derived from sprouted barley) which breaks down starches into sugars. It is used in breads to promote rising, improve the finished bread’s texture and improve browning (maltose caramelizes at a lower temperature).