Enrichment & Malt

Two additives that millers use to enhance their flour are enrichment and malt.  Unlike bromate and bleach, neither of these additives have any negative connotations or ramifications.  Instead, both are highly sought after by the end user and are viewed as positive in the baking process.

Enrichment: Back at the turn of the 20th century, there was no need to enrich flour because all flours were made from 100% whole wheat.  As a result, all the nutrients in the kernel of wheat passed through to the flour.  With the introduction of new milling techniques and processes, the three parts of the kernel of wheat – the bran, germ and endosperm – were separated.  Millers wanted the endosperm (the inside of the kernel of wheat) because of its naturally white color and good baking qualities.  But all of the wheat nutrients are located in the bran and the germ.  During the 1950’s there was a push to enhance the diet of the American public and the use of vitamins and minerals was introduced.  Niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and iron were added  to provide baked products with the necessary nutrients that the milling process removed.  Thus, the use of of enrichment was born and is still used today.  Over the years, a few ingredients were added – most notably folic acid, which helps reduce problems in pregnancy.  But for the most part, enrichments today haven’t changed since their introduction more than 50 years ago.  Enrichments do nothing to enhance the baking qualities of the flour, but there is one side effect.  If flour is over-enriched it has a tendency to make the dough come out a light shade of green or pale yellow.  This is caused by the addition of extra iron in the mix.

Malt:Malt is added in two forms: malted barley flour and enzymes.  Either is acceptable, and both provide the exact same function.  Malt is used to increase the amylase activity in the dough (i.e. increase the sugars), which has two benefits: creating food for the yeast in the mixing stage and increased sugar aids for crust browning in the baking stage.  The only area where malt is not a desired additive is when making soups and gravies.  Un-malted flour is superior in those two applications because it won’t congeal as easily as malted flour.  Overall, malt is a very desirable additive and one that should be present in any flour that is used to make breads, pizza, dough and rolls.

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