February 5, 2009 3:52 PM   Subscribe

Spurred by a recent flour question: why does some flour have barley in it, and some doesn't? And why? And what are the qualitative differences (flavor, texture) between the two?
posted by gjc to Food & Drink (4 answers total)
Well, for starters, wheat is a lot more expensive than barley. Like 50-100% more expensive. So flour with barley is going to be cheaper.

Why is barley cheaper? Probably consumer taste. More people like wheat than like barley, apparently. Different flavor.
posted by valkyryn at 4:46 PM on February 5, 2009

Most all-purpose or bread flour usually has some malted barley flour in the mix. It has an enzymatic property which helps in the caramelization of the crust, adds some depth of flavor, and plays a role in crumb texture. A little extra malt flour or liquid malt extract is sometimes a secret ingredient in great bagels and pizza crust. The Peter Rhinehart bagel recipe is one example. The properties which make barley malt flour good for breads and some cookies make it bad for cakes, so it is not added to cake flour.
posted by gimli at 4:54 PM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

It depends on what type of barley. Malted barley, which is also used in brewing beer, is often added to baking flour because yeast really thrive on the sugars that are produced by malting barley. It's a fermentation booster.
posted by OmieWise at 4:55 PM on February 5, 2009

A good discussion of diastatic (enzymatically active) malt here.

Another thing I forgot to add: malt is usually used when yeast is the leavening agent, since the enzymatic breakdown of the starch to sugar helps the yeast do its job. In the case of cake flour, the leavening agent is more likely going to be baking powder or soda, plus sweeteners will be added, so there would be no point in adding malt.

Also, I misspelled Reinhart.
posted by gimli at 5:23 PM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older pixel portraits   |   Ttickets to see a live taping of a Japanese game... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.