I have come across another article from an old Organic Gardening Magazine ( September 1975 –authored by Jane Nordstrom) and thought that I would type it out for you all this week.
Maybe some of you have heard of this…but in my many years of bread making and doing self sufficiency this was the first I had come across in some detail the idea of using malt for my bread in place of sugar. Most recipes seem to substitute malt for some of the sugar and then either use (still) a bit of refined sugar or a substitute like honey or molasses. Personally honey or molasses in my “regular” bread is not my favorite anyway—though I know many enjoy it for their selves. And though I don’t have pictures for you since I am just trying it myself as of this weekend I am adding some links for you to research this further. This idea seems to have been popular in the 70’s. This one I am re typing from OG is, as far as I have found, the earliest reference still around though.
Hope you all enjoy it.
Diastatic Malt – The Secret of Sugarless Bread
Better bread, higher in protein, lower in cost, uses an Old World yeast food that makes sugar unnecessary.
Professional bakers in Europe have an ingredient in their yeast breads that is virtually unknown to home bakers in the U.S. It is a unique yeast food and bread improver called diastatic malt.
You may have noticed that most recipes for yeast breads call for a small (sometimes not so small) amount of sugar, even for those breads which are not meant to be sweet. The purpose of the sugar is to feed the yeast and increase its gassing power. Sugar, because of its ability to caramelize, also makes the crust brown. But these are the sum of sugar’s virtues in bread, and we all know about its manifold vices.
People who are concerned about nutrition often substitute honey or molasses, which perform the same functions of feeding the yeast and browning the crust. But more effective still is diastatic malt. Not only does it do everything sugar does, it has other significant qualities. Diastatic malt is full of enzymes and vitamins which increase bread’s nutritional value. In addition, the catalytic action of these enzymes on the yeast and flour improves both flavor and appearance of the loaf, fosters a finer texture, and helps the bread stay fresh. Is it any wonder the travelers remark about the superiority of bread in Europe?
Just what is diastatic malt anyway?
That was my question when I first learned about it in a letter from my daughter who was apprenticing in a Swiss bakery. I remembered seeing cans of Blue Ribbon Malt on grocery shelves when I was a child, but I had no idea what malt really was nor where it came from. I thumbed through every cookbook I had, but found no reference to diastatic malt. Most cookbooks don’t mention malt of any kind, except possibly a passing reference to malted milk. Even the dictionary referred to malt only as a “germinated grain used in brewing and distilling. “
I took the dictionary’s lead and began reading books on beer making. That is how I discovered what malt really is. It is sprouted grain ( usually barley) that has been roasted and ground. It is then dissolved in water and filtered to remove the husks and bran, after which it is reduced to a syrup or dehydrated to make a powder. I also learned that DIASTITIC malt, unlike conventional malt, has been dried and processed at a low temperature (under 170 degrees) so that its special enzymes are not destroyed by heat. Much later I learned form my daughter that these enzymes have the power to transform the starch in flour into maltose and dextrin – yeast foods which assist in the fermentation process. These enzymes also help in the production of soluble proteins for the yeast’s use.
After checking several sources I was finally able to obtain some diastatic malt syrup at a beer supply store, and thus began an adventure in baking bread with malt rather than sugar. The bread was great. The problem was that the malt syrup was so thick and unmanageable it was a nuisance to use.
At about that time my husband happened to be reading a book on Mesopotamia. In it was a detailed description of how the people of those ancient times made malt for their alcoholic beverages by sprouting barley kernels and then drying them in the sun. That is when I made the critical connection. Malt was not so exotic after all. I had been sprouting mung beans in my kitchen for years. Why not sprout barley as well and carry it two steps further – dry the sprouts and grind them? There would be no need to filter out the husks and bran since my malt was to be ground and made into bread rather than beer.
The problem was where to find the grain. Hulled barley would not sprout and there was no unhulled barley anywhere. I searched through health food stores in New York City and wrote many letters to organic grain suppliers, but to no avail. Finally in an encyclopedia, I learned that malt can be made from wheat as well as barley, and that the enzyme action is the same.
For several years now I have been making my own diastatic malt with wheat berries. They are available at any health food store. I am convinced that diastatic malt makes the subtle difference between a good bread and a great bread.
Used in place of sugar, honey or molasses in any yeast bread recipe, the action of the diastatic malt is so powerful that only a small amount is needed. One teaspoonful will be enough for a batch of dough yielding three to four loaves. A little more won’t hurt but use restraint. Once you have made your own diastatic malt and see how easy it is, you may be tempted to simply dump it into the dough, believing that “more is better.” It is true that diastatic malt is richer in nutrients than the grain it was made form. However, if used in excess it will overwhelm the yeast (give it indigestion, so to speak). This will cause a breakdown in the texture of the loaf during baking and will yield a sweet, sticky fiasco.
For those who do not wish to make their own, Schiff Bio Food Products, Inc. makes a dehydrated diastatic malt called Dimalt ( This company no longer makes this product—you can find malt through King Arthur Floors now).
How to Make Your Own Diastatic Malt:
Place on cup of wheat or barley berries in a wide- mouth glass jar and cover the top with a pieces of nylon net or cheesecloth, secured with a rubber band. Pour 4 cups of tepid water into the jar through the net and let the grain soak for about 12 hours or over night. Drain off the water from the swollen grain (save the water for bread liquid, soup stock, or for watering your house plants—it’s full of water-soluble vitamins and minerals.) Pour more tepid water into the jar, shake gently, and drain thoroughly. This rinsing and draining keeps mold from forming on the sprouts. Keep the jar near your kitchen sink and repeat the rinsing, shaking and draining three times a day for two days or until the little shoots are about the same length as the grains. There will also be tiny white rootlets. The temperature of your kitchen will determine the length of time required.
When the sprouts have reached their proper length, rinse and drain once again and arrange the sprouts evenly in thin layers on two large baking sheets. Place them in an oven at a temperature no higher than 150 degrees. The sprouts should be dry in 8 hours or less. They’ll give off a delightfully sweet, earthy fragrance as they dry. Or you can air-dry them by placing the baking sheets in a warm place, preferably in the sun, for several days until they are thoroughly dry. Then grind the dried sprouts to a fine meal or flour in a an electric grinder or blender. This amount will yield one cup of diastatic malt – enough for up to 150 loaves of bread. Store malt in a tightly closed glass jar in the refrigerator or freezer. It will keep indefinitely.
Whole Wheat Bread:
2 cups water
1 tsp diastatic malt
2 tablespoon yeast or 2 packages
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive is good but others can be used)
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups whole wheat bread flour.
Since I am retyping this out I am going to leave you to figure out how to make the bread. Simple instructions can be found most anywhere. Below are some links to take you to some other interesting places. As I said in the beginning: Enjoy. Oh yes…have a great week too.
Jane Nordstrom also wrote a few books. One deals specifically with this subject and is called “ The Barmy Bread Book”. You MAY be able to find it. Search hard — there are copies out there for under $25 dollars if you would really like one.
Lastly as an addendum to a previous article on pressure canning I did on January 19th,2009 (http://womennotdabbling.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/pressure-canners-and-all-their-uses/)
I wanted to add this link that I found by searching through the radical frugality link above:
http://missvickie.com/recipes/recipeframe.html –loaded with pressure cooking recipes, times and information.