What is Malt Powder?

Malt powder is typically produced with germinated barley but can be made with other grains such as wheat, rye, oats, rice, etc. The barley is soaked, then given time to sprout. Once the germinated barley has dried, it’s then ground into a fine powder.

The temperature at which the sprouted grain dries is what determines whether the malt powder is diastatic or non-diastatic.

Malt powder should not be confused with malted milk powder, which is powdered milk combined with malt powder and wheat flour.

What Is Diastatic Malt Powder?

Diastatic malt powder is made from a grain that has been sprouted, which activates the enzymes inside the grain. When the grain is dried slowly at a low temperature, it preserves some of the enzymatic activity.

What Is Diastatic Malt Powder Used For?

The active enzymes in diastatic malt powder break down starch into a simple sugar that yeast feeds on to help it grow. So it’s commonly used in doughs to produce a good strong rise and a crunchy crust. It’s also used in beer-making when creating a mash. However, it’s not the same as a dry malt extract or liquid malt extract.

What Is Non-Diastatic Malt Powder?

Non-diastatic malt powder is made from sprouted grains that have been dried at a higher temperature and ground into a powder. Drying the grains at a high temperature kills the active enzymes.

What Is Non-Diastatic Malt Powder Used For?

Non-diastatic malt powder is often used for added flavor and color in baking and beverages. Malt-flavor is often described as earthy or nutty. It’s found in malted milk powder.

What Is Malted Milk Powder?

Malted milk powder is a mixture of non-diastatic malt powder, wheat flour, and powdered milk. It was originally created as a nutritional supplement for babies. It has since morphed into a drink mix that most commonly added to milk, milkshakes, or used as an ice cream topping.

Some malted milk powders on the market today have added artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, and even preservatives.

You can learn more about malted milk powder here, and substitutions for it here.

How To Make Malt Powder

Although the process takes some time, you can make your own diastatic or non-diastatic malt powder. The steps are the same, except for the drying process.

  • Soak – soak your grains in water for 6 – 10 hours to activate the germination process (barley is most commonly used, but you may choose wheat, rye, oats, etc.)
  • Germinate – give your grains time to sprout, which requires water and air. So you’ll need to continually rinse and aerate the grains until the sprout is about the length of the grain.
  • Dry – to make diastatic malt powder, you’ll have to dry the grains at a low temperature (below 40 C/104 F). To make non-diastatic malt powder, you can dry the grains at a slightly higher temperature in the oven or in a dehydrator.
  • Grind – once your grains are completely dry, you can grind them into a fine powder.

You’ll find detailed instructions here: https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/making-your-own-diastatic-malt/

What Can I Use Instead Of Malt Powder?

An appropriate substitution for malt powder depends on the recipe and the type of malt powder it’s calling for.

If the recipe calls for it to add flavor, you may consider substituting:

  • Malted milk powder
  • Malt syrup
  • Dry malt extract

You can find several other substitution ideas here.

If the recipe calls for diastatic malt powder to make dough, there isn’t necessarily a substitution, but rather some workarounds. You’ll find a few ideas here.