Malted Ingredient - Characteristics
Malted ingredients, like other complex flavours, such as coffee, chocolate, bread, beers and wines attract attempts to describe their smells and flavours which are very subjective. We've done ourselves it by talking about RBM as having a hint of coffee about it. But, malted ingredients have much more to them than that: they have characteristics that alter the way the dough and bread behaves, looks, feels and proves.
For bakery applications, three main parameters are important in selecting the right malted ingredient: Diastatic Activity, Colour and Flavour.
This is a measure of the amylase content of the malted ingredient. Alpha amylase activity is useful in dough as it converts starches to sugars and assists with fermentation by providing yeast nutrients and promoting more rapid crust colouration during baking. High alpha amylase also promotes stickiness in the crumb of the bread which can be an essential characteristic feature of some products, but may be undesirable in others.
This activity is an important feature of malt products and is controlled during the malting process mainly by kilning temperature and time. To achieve malt with a very high diastatic activity the kilning temperature is kept low: for non-diastatic products, kilning temperature is increased to denature (disable) the alpha amylase enzyme.
The kilning stage of malt production results in colour formation, depending on the degree of modification of the malt (how much starch has been converted to sugars); and the time and temperature of the kilning process. Gentle kilning produces very pale brown, lightly flavoured malts. More intensive heat treatment increases the colour of the malt in a wide spectrum, ranging from warm red-brown colours to virtually black.
Very light coloured, diastatic malts are associated with mild flavour products. As kilning temperature increases, natural Maillard and caramelisation reactions produce a wide range of flavours ranging from rounded, sweet flavours to intense bitter notes. Generally, the darker the malt, the stronger the flavour, but the change in the type of flavour is the critical parameter