Home Baked Bread, a Little Known Ingredient: Crispier Crust & Great Texture are a Simple Ingredient Away

Most bread recipes depend solely on yeast for rising. An ingredient, such as sugar, helps feed the yeast. Barley malt isn’t usually found in grocery stores. Malt for baking is available from King Arthur Flour. It comes in three forms, as a syrup, diastatic malt powder, and non-diastatic malt powder. The powder has a longer shelf life for the occasional bread baker. The diastatic malt powder has active enzymes, so is best for helping bread rise. The following recipe uses diastatic malt powder.

White Bread and Breadstick Recipe

For the Sponge:

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp diastatic malt powder
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1 cup King Arthur unbleached bread flour

Stir together the yeast, water, malt powder, and honey in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until completely incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until bubbly and doubled in size, about 3-4 hrs. Or refrigerate overnight. Note: the sponge can be allowed to come to room temperature or used cold. If used cold, the rising time may be longer.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, warm water, olive oil and salt. Add the sponge and mix slowly until all are thoroughly incorporated. Mix on high for 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the flour a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Change to a dough hook or to a wooden spoon when the dough starts to become stiff. Because humidity and other factors affect the amount of flour needed, learn by feel when to stop adding flour. The dough should pull away from the bowl, but still be soft and a little sticky.

Kneading the Dough and Rising

Knead by hand for about 10 minutes or by machine about 5 minutes. Using a sponge reduces the amount of kneading time. Sprinkle on a little flour as needed to avoid sticking. Place the dough in a large bowl and cover. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, 2 to 3 hours.

Shaping and Second Rising

Preheat oven to 400

Tear or cut off about a third of the dough and set aside. Shape the remaining dough into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover and set aside to rise. Roll the smaller ball of dough into a rough 8″ x 10″ rectangle. Cut into strips with a pizza cutter and place strips on an ungreased baking sheet, twisting slightly. Let rise about 20 minutes in the best bread proofing basket.


Bake the bread sticks 15-20 minutes until nicely browned. By the time the breadsticks are done, the loaf should be nicely risen. Slash the top of the loaf with a sharp blade and wash with egg or olive oil if desired. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

The malt powder adds a nice crunchiness to the crust. It has a nice flavor and improved shelf life. Add cheese, onions, garlic (Here are some great garlic presses for you!), or fresh herbs to customize the dough. Instead of breadsticks, try making rolls, sweet rolls, or bagels. This delicious dough is very versatile. May your bread always rise and nourish both body and soul.

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