Friday, May 20, 2011


I finally found the German Baker's van in Forest Hill last week. It doesn't help that the details are wrong on the website. The stopping point is actually, unsurprisingly, beside the Dietrich Bonhoeffer church, and most of the customers were German. Most of the bread seemed a bit rye-heavy, again unsurprisingly. I bought a loaf which I'd guess was around 30% rye. It was nice enough but not endearing. What was endearing was a loaf described as "containing bumpkin seeds", which has inspired me, and I'm pretty happy with the result.

400g strong white flour
50g wholemeal rye flour
10g red malt flour
50g pumpkin seeds
4g salt
3g diax

Using 300g water, 6g of dried yeast and a tiny amount of sugar.

Now I'm not sure how much is due to the diax and how much to the sugar, but this dough rose really quickly. I'm also not sure how much diax I should be using. The packaging says around 1%, while online I've seen 0.1% quoted. I suspect I'm still using too much, which results in a doughy central crumb. Too much starch-to-sugar conversion weakening the structure?

On the other hand, I think the crust on loaves I've produced with diax is better. This recipe is nearly there. The taste is lovely.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I've started using a new ingredient: diastatic malt flour, or diax, from Bakery Bits. As I understand it, you could describe it as a natural flour improver. Malted barley is ground to a powder, but not heat-treated, so it holds on to the enzymes (mainly amylase) that are involved in the sprouting. Amylase is the enzyme that breaks long carbohydrate chains in flour (starch) into sugar, which the yeast can then eat. Adding diax means that there are more enzymes around, so the yeast can get to work quicker. It's a replacement for adding sugar, and I suppose the advantage is that more of the starch in the flour gets broken down, with good consequences for flavour.

The first time I tried this, in a plain white loaf, I messed up the cooking, so I'll pass over that. I decided to use the diax and a couple of other new ingredients from Bakery Bits to try to produce a granary style loaf.

390g strong white flour
10g red malt flour (2.5%)
3g diax (0.7%)
30g malt flakes (7%)
4g salt

220g water
3g dried yeast

Same-day mixing, rising, proving and baking. A photo will follow, but the bread is quite heavy compared to the best of this kind of bread. Should have used more yeast, I think. And I probably should have used more malt flakes. Hovis Granary flour has 17% malt flakes, so I was a long way off that. I also wonder if it would help to soak the flakes first. So, some tweaks to be made.