Left to right: Wheat berries, sprouted wheat, and sprouted wheat flour.
Sprouted wheat flour is an excellent substitute for diastatic malt.
Many years ago, when we first started baking breads, we came across ‘diastatic malt’ in the ingredient list of many recipes.
It was often cited as an ‘optional’ ingredient, but being novice bakers, we didn’t want to take chances. It was not available locally, so we got it online. We use it extensively, especially for sourdough breads. After seven years, we exhausted our stash.
Most brands of all-purpose flour in the U.S. have an ingredient list that reads like this:
Wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid
The ‘malted barley flour’ is diastatic malt. The diastatic malt component in all purpose flour is usually about 10%.
Malt can be diastatic or non-diastatic. Non-diastatic (or barley malt syrup) is heated, has no living enzymes, and is simply added as a sweetener. It’s used often in bagel recipes for that unique flavour and glossy crust. Honey is a good substitute.
Diastatic malt, on the other hand, has not been subjected to high heat while being processed, to preserve the living enzymes.
Diastatic malt powder is powdered malted grain, usually barley, but wheat, and rice may also be malted.
“Diastatic” refers to the diastatic enzymes that are created as the grain sprouts. These convert starches to sugars, which yeasties eat. Maltose, a simple sugar that yeasties love is usually made in abundance by the enzymes. (Source)
If you buy flour with malted barley flour already included, you do not need to add extra to the bread dough. If it exceeds 10%, the dough will be slack and sticky. If you buy organic flour or whole whole wheat or whole rye flour for bread making, it is a good idea to add diastatic malt. It does make a difference to the structure of the dough and its rising ability.
Do not add it to cakes and pastries that need to be light and airy. This ingredient is required only in yeasted breads that need a good gluten structure.
While they claim that diastatic malt is available in health food stores, we haven’t found it in the areas we’ve lived. There are a couple of online sources, but we don’t fancy paying 8 dollars in shipping for a 2-dollar order.
Sprouted wheat flour performs the same function and imparts a superior flavour. Commercial manufacturers use barley because it is the cheaper option.
Sprouted wheat flour is really easy to make with wheat berries (grains). These are available at Indian grocers or in the bins of natural food stores.
SPROUTED WHEAT FLOUR
Soak 1 cup whole wheat berries for 24 hours in 3 cups water. Drain and keep covered for another 24 hours. You should see little sprouts. Else, rinse, drain and keep for another 24 hours. Tiny sprouts are okay. Do not let the sprouts grow longer than the berries.
Then spread the sprouts on a kitchen towel to dry for an hour or two. Place them on a baking sheet and dry in the hot sun. In winter, preheat the oven to the lowest setting. Ours is 175 F. Heat the oven for 5 minutes, then switch it off. Put the cookie baking in and dry for a few hours. Remove the baking sheet, pre-heat the oven again. Repeat a few times until the sprouts are dry and can be powdered in a spice grinder.
If you have a food dehydrator, use it.
Pulse the sprouts a few times and grind them at low speed. The blender jar should not get hot.
It is important never to let the temperature of the sprouts exceed 130 F so as not to kill the enzymes.
Sprouted wheat flour keeps for a year or two.
To make BREAD FLOUR:
Bread flour is a high-protein version of all purpose flour, ideal for baking yeasted breads. It has added gluten, as well as barley malt to help the yeast.
8 cups of unbleached all purpose flour + 2.75 tbsp. vital gluten + 1 tsp ascorbic/citric acid (powdered vitamin C) plus 3 tablespoons of sprouted wheat flour (or diastatic malt).
(Add the sprouted wheat flour only if your all-purpose flour does not have barley malt added to it. A good substitute for ascorbic acid is 1 tsp. lemon juice for each loaf of bread)
To make WHOLE WHEAT BREAD FLOUR:
Replace all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour in the recipe above.
Sprouted Wheat Flour goes to dear Kalyn for Weekend Herb Blogging.