What’s the difference between diastatic and non-diastatic malt? Are they interchangeable?

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The functional difference between diastatic and non-diastatic malt is enzyme content. Diastatic malt contains an enzyme (diastase – derived from sprouted barley) which breaks down starches into sugars. It is used in breads to promote rising, improve the finished bread’s texture and improve browning (maltose caramelizes at a lower temperature).

Non-diastatic malt is instead merely a sweetener – the enzymes have been killed off through the application of additional heat. It still has a place in some baked good recipes – it adds flavor, improves browning and does promote a stronger rise simply by making more sugar available to the yeast for an initial “kick start”.

The two should not be used interchangeably. Non-diastatic malt doesn’t affect baking recipes in the same way as diastatic malt – one merely adds sugar directly while the other also converts starch in the flour (and malt) to sugar.

– Question Submitted by Helen R.

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