Every once in a while, a long-time standard ingredient will jump up and surprise you. Briess Malt & Ingredient Co.’s malted rye is one such ingredient. “An important part of our R&D efforts focuses on discovering new applications for these all-natural, healthy malt products in food and beverages,” said Judie Giebel, AIB Certified master baker and technical services representative for the Chilton, WI-based company, and she discovered such a use with the company’s malted rye.

A part of the company’s line of standard malt products for 20 years, this ingredient showed potential as a flour in baked goods formulating. Typically used in distilling and brewing, malted rye is an enzyme-active, flavorful, whole-kernel ingredient that when operating as flour can improve processing, flavor and aroma, Ms. Giebel found.

While Briess has been working with malted rye as a flour for three to four years, the malting process is nothing new. The raw grain kernel, in this case rye, is ­sprouted until its natural enzymes are activated. Then the germination is halted by drying the grains at low temperatures. This process retains the enzymes. The malted rye is milled into a whole grain flour, and those natural enzymes awakened by the malting process provide a wealth of benefits in this format. 

The enzymes function as natural dough conditioners. “The enzyme level of malted rye flour is a little more than half of standard malted barley flour, which means no additional dough conditioning is necessary,” Ms. Giebel said. This all aids machinability and improves volume. The enzymes also enable a softer crumb and shorter proof time.

Not only does the malted rye improve dough handling characteristics, but it also imparts some beneficial product characteristics. “Malted rye flour offers a unique flavor that standard rye and other flours do not,” Ms. Giebel said. “Malting slightly tames the typical spicy flavor characteristic of raw rye, so malted rye flour delivers a sweet rye flavor plus a touch of warm color depending on usage rates.” The natural humectancy of malt also adds extended shelf life while developing a soft, moist crumb. It participates in the Maillard reaction to promote browning, creating a crust with a rich golden brown color.

Briess found success in using its malted rye flour in both breads and crackers, but the ingredient also can lend its processing benefits and unique flavor to cereal, granola and other grain-based products. Because of the active alpha-amylase in the flour, however, Ms. Giebel said it should only be used at low rates. “We recommend 2 to 5% as a starting point,” she said. “The flour will create a soft and pliable dough, and too high levels can cause sticky dough and over-proofing.”

In this climate of skeptical consumers and increased scrutiny of food contents, finding new uses for old standby ingredients provides bakers a way to clean up their ingredient lists. Getting creative in formulating with new-to-baking ingredients like malted rye flour helps bakers meet throughput demand as well as consumer insistence on simpler labels. For more information on Briess Malt & Ingredients Co.’s malted rye flour and other specialty malts, visit www.briess.com.