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The Bakers Secret ingredient


Diax doesn’t look much – just an off-white flour. But there is more to it than meets the eye: it is a really effective natural improver for all your bread recipes. Used in tiny amounts, it breathes extra life into your dough.

Read all about about it below.

Have you ever wondered why you can’t quite get the same bread as the professional bakers? Most mass-produced bread is riddled with chemical improvers of course – not something that artisan bakers would go near. They do though have a secret ingredient, and this is Diax, or diastatic malt flour, made only from finely ground malted barley.

Diax malt flour is full of naturally occurring enzymes, developed during the malting process. English barley goes through a 7-day process where the grains are soaked (steeped), sprouted (germinated) and kilned. During this time, the endosperm becomes modified to give the flavour precursors of malt and naturally occurring enzymes are synthesised – all carefully controlled to retain these enzymes for use by the baker. When used at 5g-10g per 1kg flour (0.5 to 1%), Diax will break down some of the starch in your dough to short chain carbohydrates (sugars). These sugars give a sustained release of food to the yeast throughout fermentation, giving better bread volume, a more open texture, and a darker crust colour – especially good for slow fermentation and sourdough. You may also see a more relaxed dough, where some of the protein strands will be cleaved by protease present in Diax. These fissures in the dough structure can help give the lovely irregular structure associated with craft breads like Ciabatta.

An additional benefit of enzyme active malt flour is that your bread will remain softer for longer – one of the main reasons it’s widely used in bagels. Malt contains naturally occurring glutamates, which will enhance the overall flavour of your bread. If you’re feeling bold, then you can use higher levels to give a sticky dough. The enzymes in this malt flour can promote a texture similar to that seen in malt loaf. Take a look at the malt loaf recipe that uses Diax (a good cycling snack!).


Vanessa Kimbell runs the Sourdough School, Northampton


featured products

Diax | from £1.59

Diax Malt Flour or Diastatic enzyme active malt flour, made from finely ground malted barley used to give improved rise, softer crumb and more crust colour development without the need for adding sugar.

Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

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Bakery Assistant - Full Time for Better Health Bakery
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The Centre for Better Health (CBH) is a community charity that supports people in their personal recovery from mental ill health and that promotes wellbeing.


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