Diastatic Malt Powder: The Top Secret Ingredient Nobody is Using to Make the Best Pizza


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This article discusses what it is diastatic malt powder, how it’s made, how to store it, how to use it in your pizza dough, and how it differs from non-diastatic malt powder. With a deeper understanding of the chemistry involved, you’ll be on your way to becoming a master pizza baker in no time!

Diastatic Malt Powder in Pizza-Making

When it comes to baking, it’s essential to consider the underlying chemistry taking place both in and out of the oven. Without a proper balance of sugars and enzymes in your dough, your pizza won’t have enough rise, and the texture, flavor, and appearance could turn out to be lacking.

This situation is where diastase comes into the picture. Master pizza bakers often praise diastatic malt powder as “the secret ingredient” in any good baking recipe. But what is it, and how can you incorporate it into making excellent pizza dough? There’s a lot to know about it, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Diastatic Malt Powder vs. Non-Diastatic Malt Powder

The term “diastatic” refers to the presence or absence of diastase, a group of enzymes such as alpha-amylase and beta-amylase that are useful in baking for their role in the fermentation process. For this reason, diastatic malt is also sometimes referred to as “enzyme active” malt.

Enzymatic content is measured in Degrees Lintner.

Malt Grain

malt spoon

Malt

The term “malt” refers to cereal grain, which has been “malted.” If the type of grain in question isn’t specified, it’ll likely be barley malt, but you can use other cereal grains. Each different kind of grain offers its distinct characteristics.

To better understand the difference between diastatic malt and non-diastatic malt, it helps first to be familiar with the concepts of germination and fermentation and the malting process itself.

Although fermentation is used in baking, it also occurs naturally in the wild.

Every seed naturally contains a supply of nutrients that it will use to nourish itself as it grows into a new plant; in a process known as germination, the seed sprouts when it senses that conditions are right outside for it to grow and survive. When this happens, enzymes that are also present begin to break down its stores of carbohydrates into more readily usable sugars in a process known as fermentation.

After fermentation has begun and the seeds have sprouted, the sugar produced from these carbohydrates is then broken down further by yeast cells, releasing carbon dioxide into their surroundings. The presence of carbon dioxide in your dough is what helps it to rise.

The Malting Process

The term “diastase” is derived from the Greek word “diastasis,” meaning “a parting or separation.” This original meaning refers to separating soluble sugars from the rest of the plant material being used.

grain for malting process

Malting Process

In the first stage of the malting process, the cereal grain is dried and stored until it is ready to germinate. Many seeds will not germinate right away, so this initial drying period usually takes around six weeks, at which point the seeds are no longer dormant, and the next stage can begin.

Germination Process

The grain is then soaked in water for several days until it begins to sprout. The germination process is then quickly brought to a halt. The temperature at which it is halted determines whether the finished malt will be diastatic or non-diastatic.

air dryed malt

What is Diastatic Malt?

Diastatic malt is a malt that has had its germination process stopped by air-drying, or in some cases, by being heated in a kiln at low temperatures. It leaves some of the naturally occurring enzymes already present in the malt behind. This result is what you want.

Diastatic Malt Processing Temperature

Non-Diastatic Malt

By contrast, non-diastatic malt has had its germination process stopped by heating it at a much higher temperature.
Unfortunately, the heat used in this method destroys those precious enzymes.

Since there are fewer enzymes present in non-diastatic malt, there is less sugar produced via fermentation. Since the yeast has less to consume, the result is less carbon dioxide and less rise.

What is Diastactic Malt Powder?

Diastatic malt powder it’s a free-flowing powder with a combination of sweetness and enzyme activity that gives baked foods a pleasing golden-brown crust color.

When you add dry diastatic malt powder in your baking recipe, more starches are broken down into sugars, which yeasts may consume as food during the long dough process, resulting in a higher rise. This extra sugar also aids in the caramelization of a golden-brown crust, which would otherwise be absent in a slow-processed dough.

Diastatic malt also promotes browning and improves the flavor and texture of your crust.

After it’s dried or heated, the malt is then ground into malt powder. Do be aware that some flour already has malt powder added to it. If you’re not sure whether there’s any malt in the flour already, there probably isn’t, but you should be able to tell by the time you’re done mixing the dough.

What is the difference between Diastatic vs Non-Diastatic Malt Powder?

For baking purposes, diastatic malt powder is sprouted grains used for feeding yeast and baking bread giving it a stronger rise. Non-diastatic is used as a sweetener and not to feed the yeast.  Since is sugar, you still will have the browning of the dough but the structure of the crust may not be as strong.

Remember that less expensive flour usually doesn’t contain any malt. You can also tell by looking at how many air bubbles you see form while your dough is resting. More malt will produce more air bubbles.

How Much Diastatic Malt Powder You Should Use

We recommend using 2% of Diastactic Malt to the total flour weight. For example, if you use 500g of flour you would have to add 10g of Diastatic Malt. In short, weigh your flour and multiply the result by .02. If you don’t have a scale, use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per 3 cups of flour.

Enzyme-Active Diastatic Malt Powder

When making pizza, you’ll want to use an enzyme-active diastatic malt powder weighing about 0.25 to 5% of the total weight of your pizza flour.
Make sure you add it to the dry ingredients instead of mixing them with your yeast and water.

Diastatic Malt and Baker’s Percentage Method (Hydration)

An important consideration when you weigh your ingredients and use malt. The malt will add to the total weight of the flour.  To keep the hydration of the dough at your desired level, you need to account for the malt you added to the flour. 

For example, our base recipe calls for 500g of pizza flour at 65% hydration or 325g of water. But if you add 10g of malt to the mix you now have 510g of total flour weight. 

So, to calculate the hydration you must multiply your hydration factor by the total weight of the flour. 

In this case, 510 x .65 = 332 g of water.  

Is it going to make a difference?  Most certainly!

That can make the difference between having a dry or a moist crust.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of weighing your ingredients, you can use ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per 3 cups of flour.

Pizza Pun

Why are pizza baking recipes so secretive?

They’re on a knead the dough basis.

Diastatic Malt Powder in Pizza

With so many pizza styles to choose from, you may be wondering about the best kind to choose when using diastatic malt in pizza making. We prefer to use it with Chicago-style deep dish pizza or any of its variants. Also, it gives exceptionally well results when making a dessert pizza. With more rise in your dough, your pizza will be better able to hold all those delicious layers of meat, cheese, sauce, and veggies!

Warning Using Non-Diastatic Malt

It’s essential to use diastatic malt powder for pizza because non-diastatic malt is just another sugar form. Also, non-diastatic malt can turn your crust a reddish color or give it a flavor like that of candy, a taste like malted milk balls.. And while malted milk balls are good on their own, they’re probably now what you’re looking for unless you’re making a dessert pizza.

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Benefits of Using Diastatic Malt Powder

The active enzymes contained in Diastatic Malt function as a dough conditioner in yeast-fermented doughs. By using it correctly, you can get the following results in your pizza crust:

Strong rise while making the dough.
Better crust structure.
Increased volume.
Better flavor as it adds a mild malt taste.
Best crust browning as it enhances the color of the crust.
Good for your health as it promotes better digestion. It contains fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin B6, which together with lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of cardiac disease. *Note that is not meant to be construed as medical advice.

Pro Tip

When using diastatic malt, a little can do a lot. You don’t need a huge amount of malt to add that nutty flavor to a recipe. More often than not, a little goes a long way, especially when using liquid malt.

How Long Does Diastatic Malt Powder Last?

On average it will last about a year.  Of course, it is always best to check the expiration date in the package. However, in a well-sealed container kept in the refrigerator, it can be used past its “best by” date.

Where to Find Diastatic Malt Powder

Diastatic malt is readily available in bakery supplies stores or you can get it online.  Here are our favorites which you can get on Amazon.

Do you want to try Non-Diastactic Malt Powder?

If you are interested in trying out non-diastatic malt powder to see if you find any difference in your baking, here is what we recommend.

Dry Malt Powder Diastatic by Medley Hills Farm Dry Malt Powder Diastatic by Medley Hills Farm
$10.59

This free-flowing diastatic powder was specially formulated to provide an economical combination of enzymatic activity, sweetness, and appealing crust color to baked goods. Adding our Dry Malt Powder to your baking recipe allows more starches to be broken down into sugars, which yeasts can then use as food during a prolonged dough process, resulting in an enhanced rise.

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12/07/2021 12:07 am GMT
Diastatic Barley Malt Powder Diastatic Barley Malt Powder
$6.99

Diastatic malt powder is the ingredient savvy bread bakers use to promote a strong rise, great texture, and lovely brown crust. Especially useful when flour does not have barley malt added, as is true for most whole wheat flour and many organic flours. Active enzymes in diastatic malt help yeast grow fully and efficiently throughout the fermentation period, yielding a good, strong rise and great oven-spring.

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12/07/2021 12:07 am GMT
Our Top Pick
Hoosier Hill Farm Dry Malt (Diastatic) Baking Powder Hoosier Hill Farm Dry Malt (Diastatic) Baking Powder
$10.67

 A free-flowing diastatic powder, old fashion dry malt powder is formulated to provide an economical combination of enzymatic activity, sweetness, and appealing crust color to baked goods. Great for bread, rolls, buns, crackers, sweet dough, cakes, cookies, and all products which require a true natural malt flavor.


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12/07/2021 12:04 am GMT

How to Store Diastatic Malt Powder

Now that you know how to use diastatic malt powder in baking let’s turn to some other considerations.

You’ll want to be sure to store your diastatic malt powder at temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible, you’ll want to refrigerate it, since the enzymes can go bad after a while. It should have an expiration date listed on it, but its shelf life is generally comparable to flour.

If necessary, you can freeze diastatic malt powder, and it will work just as well once it has thawed. However, it is hygroscopic (meaning it retains moisture well), so if you’ve got a large bag of it, you can freeze with no problem.

Diastatic Malt Powder Products and Substitutes

If you’re not able to find any diastatic malt powder in stores in your area, you could try using diastatic malt syrup instead. This product might also be referred to as diastatic malt extract. It’s a liquid instead of a powder, and not all of the enzymes present in diastatic malt are present in diastatic malt extract, but the most thermostable ones are. Luckily, it’s those thermostable enzymes that are the most important.

Alternatively, you could try ordering some diastatic malt from our link below.

Here is what the PROs at Homemade Pizza Pro Use and Recommend

Our Top Pick
Hoosier Hill Farm Dry Malt (Diastatic) Baking Powder Hoosier Hill Farm Dry Malt (Diastatic) Baking Powder
$10.67

 A free-flowing diastatic powder, old fashion dry malt powder is formulated to provide an economical combination of enzymatic activity, sweetness, and appealing crust color to baked goods. Great for bread, rolls, buns, crackers, sweet dough, cakes, cookies, and all products which require a true natural malt flavor.


We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you!
12/07/2021 12:04 am GMT

Additional Resources

What Water can Reveal about pizza



Pizza Guides


Astonishing Secrets Water Can Reveal About Your Pizza

In this article, we are going to dive deep into the mysterious ways of water. In conjunction with flour, yeast, and salt, it can make the most spectacular pizza dough.

best yeast for pizza


Pizza Guides


Active Dry vs Instant Yeast: Discover the Best Yeast for Pizza

In this article, we will help you understand the difference between Active dry yeast and Instant and let you know which one is right for homemade pizza.
Find which is the best yeast for pizza and why.

End Thoughts

We hope this has been an informative experience for you. With this, you should have a better understanding of what diastatic malt powder is, and how it can be used in your next baking endeavor.

There are many factors to consider, but the best way to improve your pizza baking skills is through practice. Knowledge of the ingredients you use and the chemical processes that occur throughout the process is always useful, even necessary sometimes. Still, ultimately nothing will replace doing the thing and seeing the results for yourself.

And don’t forget to be creative and have fun with it! Baking pizza may well be a science, but it’s also an art. Ultimately, you should follow your vision and see where it leads you. You may be surprised by how well it turns out.

Thank you for spending your time here with us today. We’d love to know more about your techniques. What kind of pizza have you made lately, and how did it turn out? Did you use any unusual ingredients or try anything new? Let us know in the comments down below!

When in Doubt, Check Our Resources

To help you become a better homemade pizza baker we developed these reference sources that you can use when making any of our recipes.

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Find our conversion charts for volume, weight, length, and temperature.

Pizza Guides

Check our guides on products and everything related to homemade pizza.

Pizza Calculators

Make your own recipes with our pizza calculators. Let us do the numbers!

Pizza Glossary

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