What is Malt?

I didn’t make any malts this past week, but even so reader Loni wants to know what “malt” is and why we eat it. It’s a great question since not only is malt rather unusual as ingredients go, it occurs in several forms in the baker’s kitchen.

I should start by observing that malt isn’t so much a thing as it is a process. “Malting” is a word that means the same thing as “sprouting”, or perhaps more precisely, “germinating”. It happens when a seed, notably a grain like barley, is exposed to water and a temperature of around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The seed, which is composed of an embryo (the germ) and a food supply (the endosperm) breaks open so the embryo can grow. The embryo sends out a shoot and enzymes in the endosperm switch on and begin slicing the long-chain starch molecules stored there into simple sugars. Why?


Notes on the recipe

If you’re in the mood for bagel-making this week or weekend, there are a couple of things I should mention about the recipe below. First, you don’t strictly need malt powder, nondiastatic malt, or malt syrup to make great bagels. But then they don’t hurt either. Any of them are useful for bagel-making. Malt powder […]