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I get my daily brown bread from a bread outlet down the street. In the last two weeks I found, more than once, torpedo-shaped dark brown objects, approximately the size of a swollen grain of rice in the bread. I was concerned these might be mouse droppings. When I retuned to the outlet, the shop attendant contacted the baker and they told me that it was from the malt they use to darken the bread. I was really surprised and never expected to hear such a thing.

When I cut the bread open the dark brown grains were as soft as boiled rice, and when I rubbed them between my fingers they looked and felt like paste, and after a day or so left out in the open, they hardened.

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  • In the context of bread baking, "malt" probably refers to malted barley, but it doesn't fully make sense for what you're describing (unless this is whole-kernel bread or so). It could be malted barley powder or syrup, or even something like molasses; but it shouldn't end up as a coherent mass. Is it a homogenous blob, or something whole -- like a cereal grain? Could you post a picture? Or the ingredient list of the bread, if available?
    – hoc_age
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 18:16
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    What exactly is the question here? There is no question mark anywhere in your post. Are you asking if malt is used? What kind of malt? What it looks like? What it does? Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 19:15
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    I think I'd buy different bread if I were you. There are plenty of ways to darken bread without leaving weird lumps of stuff in it. Like hoc_age said, the explanation given doesn't really make sense. It's probably harmless, but I'm sure you have many other options for bread that aren't so weird.
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 19:58
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    @Sobachatina Please read my comment again. I never said anything about malt being weird.
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 21:58
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    @Ross- Fair enough. It sounds like it to me but you are the final say in what you meant. :) Retracting my pedantic comment. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 22:01

2 Answers 2

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Without pictures, it's hard to say for sure, but that doesn't sound like malt. Malt syrup (barley being the standard grain used for malt) is fairly dark (between honey and molasses in color), but it's also transparent and would be dissolved in the dough. Malt powder isn't significantly darker than flour, and should be distributed evenly through the other dry ingredients. Neither are used as a "darkening agent", aside from occasionally being used to darken the crust of bread slightly. As rumtscho points out in the comments, there is a "rye malt" which is used as a darkening agent in some traditional breads. If this is used, it could be a lump that didn't get mixed in? A much more common darkening agent would be caramel color, which is still very unlikely to lead to dark lumps, as it dissolves easily in water.

Depending on the type of bread, it could be a kernel of some type of grain (rye maybe?) or a lump of unhydrated flour. Without more details, there's no way to give a definite answer, but it doesn't sound like malt.

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  • @sourdough apparently there are types of bread which need the malt to get a properly dark color, see cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/21578. Sobachatina confirmed later in chat that malt gave the desired result.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 21:27
  • @rumtscho That recipe calls for "rye malt", which I guess makes sense. Rye is darker than wheat or barley, so it follows that the malt would be darker. It's my understanding that "malt" alone usually means barley malt though. I'll edit for clarity.
    – SourDoh
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 21:33
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Could be; couple different possiblites;

  1. barley malt syrup; adds flavor http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/organic-barley-malt-syrup-16-oz

  2. Diastatic Malt Powder; gives your bread an extra yeast kick; similar to using yeast nutrient.

After re-reading your post; sounds like some form of DMP...

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