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A friend and I were puzzled to see "malted barley flour" listed as an ingredient in all-purpose flour and bread flour but not cake flour or any sort of whole-wheat flour. This was the case for every flour brand I checked (two "store" brands and three advertised brands - all U.S. brands). My friend said that would never happen in Hungary.

I looked over the detailed discussion on this site of different kinds of flour and protein/gluten percentages, hard wheat vs. soft wheat, etc., but no mention of malted barley flour.

So I am curious:

  1. What exactly is malted barley flour?

  2. What function does it serve?

  3. About how much of it is included? (like 30%? or more like 1%?)

  4. Do any other countries besides U.S. put this in their (wheat) flour?

  • Enzymes break starch chains down into complex sugars. Yeast produce carbon dioxide when fed sugars. To keep enzyme levels consistent over many milling cycles, malted barley is added. Generally less than 1/10 %. Flour millers have the equipment and knowledge to adjust enzyme levels. Blindly adding more malted barley can cause the crumb to come out doughy and appear uncooked. Leave enzyme levels to the professionals. – Optionparty Jun 30 '16 at 14:25
  • Sorry for not connecting the dots. Malted barley flour is rich in enzymes. Complex sugars add greatly to flavor and crust browning. 1/10 % would amount to adding 1lb barley flour to 1,000 lbs. of wheat flour. – Optionparty Jul 2 '16 at 14:36
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Note - label on my bag says all purpose flour, not all purpose wheat flour. So you can take that strawman (#4) for a long walk on a short pier. You won't find it in the "100% whole wheat flour"

Purpose (#2) - malted barley is yummy yeast food (or the makings of beer.) So, not surprising that you find in in flour intended to serve the needs of yeast baked products.

What is it? (#1) Barley (a grain) that has been malted (sprouted) which converts starches to sugars by enzymatic action, and is then kilned (dried) to stop the process, then ground into flour.

Percentage (#3) no idea, but likely closer to 1 than 30.

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