Dr. Strangeloaf’s little elves
Industrially produced “baking malt” – a test
Now this additive is declared as being free from the notorious chemically produced substances like diacetyl tartrate esters (DAWE, E 472e in German nomenclature) and, as fas the product description is concerned, is nothing more than diastatic malt. I have no idea what that is, but diastatic power is said to be the grain’s ability to transform the starch in the wet flour into sugars (wikipedia-laziness strikes again), which is consequently consumed by the yeast. This process hapens without diastatic malt, but it takes longer (for example by retarding the dough for up to 48 hours in the fridge effectively yielding a dough of very high quality).
Some Advantages commonly linked to baking improvers:
- Better volume (higher volume)
- Shorter relaxation times of the dough, yet good stability
- Shorter fermentation times of the dough (about 30 minutes at 2% of fresh yeast to flour weight for the first rising and 60 minutes of final rest)
- Better crust color (a fuller brown)
- Better crust texture (brittle and crisp)
- Increased extensibility of the wet gluten (no bread faults such as curved bottom or irregularly burst crust or ‘blown top’.)
I made five rolls with some seeds sprinkled on them (sunflower seeds and linseeds), also using a biga, since that kind of preferment seems to give the biggest volume. Added 2% of the ‘Backmalz’ to the dough (in relation to total flour weight). 2% yeast, 2% salt. Hydration: 66%. Baked at 240°C falling to 200°C for 25 minutes. Raw weight of each roll was 90g, baked weight eventually 75g.
- Dough had a hydration of 66% but felt more like 70
- Dough fermented quicker
- Dough felt smoother, almost silky
- Oven spring was very good to excellent, locally excessive oven spring lead to the formation of cavities
- Mouth feeling, crumb: moist, yet floury, a little pasty on the palate
- Mouth feeling, crust: Crust had developed rather quickly and was consequently thick. Quite hard.
- Flavor, crumb: Sweet but not strongly fermented, reduced aftertaste
- Flavor, crust: Slightly bitter with an unpleasant aftertaste.
- Overall flavor: Acceptable
“Acceptable flavor” for whom and when? Can’t say that it was devastating but it certainly had a peculiar quality to it, which I cannot pin down. Call it Umami. Or lack of Umami rather.
I see little reason to use it as a home baker, because I can adjust the handling of the dough as desired. I do not need dough that can withstand the vigors of machine-arms mauling it at high speed, nor do I want to speed up my production process at the cost of flavor. I am irritated by the bitter aftertaste of the crust, where it was a tad darker, that still is in my mouth after 2 hours. Even though I’ve used an indirect dough by adding a starter, the quality of the finished product suffered. Perhaps there is more than diastatic malt in this “baking malt”…