substitute for diastatic malt powder


What can I use if I do not have diastatic malt powder?

badge posted by: ValleyR on January 11, 2012 at 11:00 pm in Q & A
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reply by: Jock on January 12, 2012 at 3:12 am

I presume you are using the malt powder in bread or bagels, yes?

I have read many conflicting accounts on whether to use diastatic or non-diastatic malt in bread baking. I personally use diastatic malt because I believe it quite noticeably alters the flavor in a good way.

Diastatic malt is ground from sprouted wheat or barley grains and contains the enzyme, diastase. Diastase helps to break down the starches in the flour to sugar which feeds the yeast, resulting in a faster rise and (in my opinion) better flavor.

Non-diastatic malt is just plain yeast food. It is only half as sweet as sugar so you can get the yeast going with a bit of that but without the added sweetness of sugar.

So, to answer your question, you can use non-diastatic malt in either powder or syrup form, again, assuming this is for bread. I buy my diastatic malt powder at a local home brew supply shop. They sell me a pound of the stuff for about $2.

Most commercial flours contain malted barley as a yeast food. You can see this on the ingredients label on the bag.


reply by: frick on January 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm

As far as I know, there is no substitute. You could just leave it out; some recipes are more tolerant than others, though I would probably choose another recipe until you get some. What are you making? I think it's essential for bagels.

reply by: Mike Nolan on January 12, 2012 at 2:12 pm
Mike Nolan

As noted, diastatic malt powder is mostly a dough enhancer, non-diastatic malt powder is a sweetener.

They are not interchangeable.

I recently saw a new bagel recipe from Peter Reinhart, it uses both diastatic malt powder and barley malt syrup, with the barley malt syrup in both the dough and the boiling water.

reply by: Jock on January 12, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I've never used the non-diastatic malt in the boiling water but I keep meaning to. I am told it gives the bagels that gorgeous glossy look.

It is correct to say that there is no substitute for diastatic malt; it serves a unique purpose that no other additive does. That said, "substituting" (for lack of a better term) non-diastatic malt will serve a purpose also. The final result will be different but the yeast will have something to feed on.

Mike, where did you see the Reinhard recipe using both malts? The one I have (from The Breadbaker's Apprentice) recommends diastatic malt but suggests non-diastatic malt, sugar or honey as alternatives.



reply by: Mike Nolan on January 13, 2012 at 11:04 am
Mike Nolan

Here's a link to the one I found online the other day, it may be identical to the one in ABED:

I may have misread it the other day, the dough uses barley malt syrup, honey, OR diastatic malt power, with barley malt syrup or honey in the boiling water along with salt and baking soda.

reply by: Jock on January 13, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Thank you Mike. This is a different formula from the one in The Breadbake's Apprentice. I had forgotten this one; I got it in one of the routine e-mails from Epicurious a while back but I haven't tried it yet. The formula I use works and people like my bagels so it's a question of 'don't mess with success'. I'll do it one of these days though. I'm always looking to reach a bit farther in my baking and cooking life. :-)


reply by: RonB on January 13, 2012 at 7:37 pm

This is a timely post as my next project is going to be Ciril Hitz's bagels:

Thanx to all ~ Ron

reply by: Mike Nolan on January 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm
Mike Nolan

I use the bagel recipe in BBA the most often, but every two or three batches I try a different recipe, because I MIGHT find something we like better.

I like using barley syrup, salt and baking soda in the boiling water, but if you put too much barley syrup in the dough it adds more color to the bagels than I like. Non-diastatic barley malt adds roughly the same flavor, but without the color.

When I make pumpernickel bagels I use some molasses in the dough.

reply by: RonB on January 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I would try that recipe if I still had the book - a friend lost my copy...mad0235 Free Emoticons   Anger

reply by: Antilope on April 04, 2013 at 1:21 am

Here's an online link to the recipe at The Smitten Kitchen:

Peter Reinhart’s Bagels
Adpated from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

reply by: Mike Nolan on April 04, 2013 at 6:56 pm
Mike Nolan

Recently I have been using the one in Peter's ABED book, because it is a smaller recipe, producing around 27 ounces of dough, from which I make nine 3 ounce bagels. If I make more than that, one of two of them wind up not getting used before they go stale.

The last time I made bagels (Sunday), I put in more barley syrup than the recipe called for and I also put in a heaping teaspoon of non-diastatic barley malt.

The bagels were delicious.

reply by: Antilope on August 02, 2013 at 3:28 pm

".....Malt syrup, also called malt extract, is used primarily in yeast breads. It serves as food for the yeast and adds flavor and crust color to the breads. Malt is extracted from barley that has been sprouted (malted) and then dried and ground.
There are two basic types of malt syrup: diastatic and non-diastatic. Diastatic malt contains a group of enzymes called diastase, which breaks down starch into sugars that can be acted on by yeast. Thus, diastatic malt, when added to bread dough, is a powerful food for yeast. It is used when fermentation times are short. It should not be used when fermentation times are long because too much starch will be broken down by the enzyme. This results in bread with a sticky crumb.
Diastatic malt is produced with high, medium, or low diastase content.
Non-diastatic malt is processed at high temperatures that destroy the enzymes and give the syrup a darker color and stronger flavor. It is used because it contains fermentable sugar and contributes flavor, crust color, and keeping qualities to breads.
Whenever malt syrup is called for in formulas in this book, non-diastatic malt should be used. No formulas require diastatic malt. If malt syrup is not available, you may substitute regular granulated sugar.
Malt is available in two other forms. Dried malt extract is simply malt syrup that has been dried. It must be kept in an airtight container to keep it from absorbing moisture from the air.Malt flour is the dried, ground, malted barley
that has not had the malt extracted from it. It is obviously a much less concentrated form of malt. When used in bread making, it is blended with the flour....."
- Professional Baking, 4th edition, by Wayne Gisslen, (pages 39, 40)

reply by: KitchenBarbarian aka Zen on August 08, 2013 at 12:24 am
KitchenBarbarian aka Zen

Jock, can you give us a brand name, or a shot of the label? I've had no luck locating a local source of diastatic malt, not even from home brew supply places.

reply by: Mike Nolan on August 08, 2013 at 12:40 am
Mike Nolan

Here's a link to Bobs Red Mill's catalog (though MBF appears to be out of stock):

reply by: KitchenBarbarian aka Zen on August 08, 2013 at 1:25 am
KitchenBarbarian aka Zen

Yeah, I've never been able to find anybody that carries that locally, plus it's $15 BEFORE shipping.

If I could get a smaller amount locally for a couple of bucks, as Jock reports, that would be most excellent! I would have to leave the remainder of a 5 lb bag to someone in my will!

reply by: Mike Nolan on August 08, 2013 at 10:00 am
Mike Nolan

Zen, you'll just have to wait until your next order from King Arthur Flour. :-)
I don't think home brewers use diastatic malt, I think they use non-diastatic malt or malt extract as a flavoring ingredient.

reply by: Jock on August 08, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Zen, the home brew supply shop I get mine from sells in bulk. I just ask for a pound of it and they measure it in to a plastic bag. I've no idea what brand it is, sorry.
Not all brew shops sell it in powder form though. When I was visiting my daughter in Boston, I went to a local brew shop for non-diastatic malt, they gave me the whole berry and pointed to a machine to "crack" it, explaining, home brewers don't need the powder, they just need to crack the berries.
I don't know what home brewers would use it for, having no real idea of the brewing process. The guy at the shop told me he sells 50# bags of it to a commercial bagel bakery in the city. Next time I go, I will ask him which one and pay it a visit, I think.
Sorry I couldn't help.

reply by: Jock on August 08, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Sorry, double post

reply by: KitchenBarbarian aka Zen on August 08, 2013 at 11:25 pm
KitchenBarbarian aka Zen

Who says you couldn't help?
That strikes me as helpful - never occurred to me to look for someone willing to sell it out of a bulk supply. Now that I'm in a new place I'll have to look around again, with some slightly different expectations this time perhaps, LOL!

reply by: KitchenBarbarian aka Zen on August 08, 2013 at 11:28 pm
KitchenBarbarian aka Zen

They use it, but I don't know why. Also a lot of them don't seem to know the difference between diastatic and non-diastatic - at least not in relation to bread-baking, which is perhaps not surprising since they're brewers, not bakers. I had a brewer explain the use of diastatic malt in bread baking exactly backwards once, eg he thought the diastatic malt was a yeast feeder.

reply by: fancyideas on March 27, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Thanks for all the info on diastatic malt powder. Very informative. I live in Omaha (which I consider a small town, after living in Houston and Atlanta!) - and was unable to find it at health food stores - and even the best bagel baker in town said they used just plain sugar! (What a disappointment! - though their bagels are still VERY good!)

Thanks to your 'home brew' suggestion, I was able to find a 'work-around' of sorts at a home brew place. Though they weren't familiar with using the malt powder for baking, they had many different types of malt powder labeled by the type of beer or ale it would produce. They asked me 'what ppg I needed' - so out of curiousity, I looked that up: Evidently it means the amount of 'oomph' the malt powder has - in sweetness (which is probably not much) and in the ability to feed the yeast.

The home brew shop owner said I probably needed an extract in the mid-30's - and he suggested the 'Pilsner' variety. Evidently, this yields one of the LIGHTEST brews - and, I assume - would cause the bagels to bake out at a light golden brown color. (Sugar is rated at '46' on the referenced table.) The ppg (parts per gallon) for honey is discussed here: Honey varies widely in sweetness, by season, location, weather, etc. Fortunately, I don't think this is as much of a problem in baking as it is in brewing.

Since I wasn't able to immediately drop everything and drive to his shop (some distance away), I substituted an equal amount of honey. I THOUGHT ABOUT ADDING HALF HONEY AND HALF 'MALTED MILK'. Any comments about what they would have done, besides adding some malt flavor?

I'm using the recipe that Chef Mark Strausman demos on the NYC Bagels video on YouTube. You need to be able to measure in grams - but weighing ingredients is much easier, quicker, and cleaner than using measuring cups, anyway. It is an excellent video, BTW, and gives all the instructions you'll ever need. I'm even thinking about making 'bagel boards', if we move out of town.

I have an electronic scale that weighs in grams and liters, as well as oz and lb. You put your mixing bowl (from your mixer or bread machine) on the scale, and zero it out. Add an ingredient until it is the right weight. Zero out the scale again. Add the next ingredient by weight. Zero out the scale EACH TIME BEFORE YOU ADD THE NEXT INGREDIENT, for accurate measurements.

If you shop for an electronic scale, get one that STAYS ON FOR AT LEAST 5 MINUTES - PREFERABLY MORE - before it automatically shuts off. Sometimes you get sidetracked and can't do a 'continuous' weighing. It is EXTREMELY irritating for the scale to shut off....and you have no idea just how much you measured - or how much more you need. (Note: Good reason to have everything you need on the counter before you begin.) Shop the Amazon reviews before you buy.

I hope this helps!