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Elizabeth_11

Sugar!

59 posts in this topic

I'm in a baking class, and can't seem to get certain questions answered.  We have a 5 gallon bucket of malt (liquid), but it smells and tastes almost exactly like molasses to me.  Any reason for this?  I'm only familliar with powdered malt.  Doesn't taste like molasses at all. 

Someone?  Mayday!

Dear Dave (t C),

Just read your study of the cane and beet, and thank you for taking the time. Very clear. Can you explain my previous question on why liquid malt smells and tastes more like molasses to me? I read guajolote's method of making it, but still have little idea of how the two products (liquid and dry) can be so absolutely different.

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Can you explain my previous question on why liquid malt smells and tastes more like molasses to me?  I read guajolote's method of making it, but still have little idea of how the two products (liquid and dry) can be so absolutely different.

Thank you, Elyse.

Without having them in front of me, this will be speculative, but maybe I can give you some hints in addition to what guajolote has done.

I think there are two differences between the liquid malt you have now and the powdered malt you are used to. (What follows is not meant to be condescending, but complete. If it includes principles, and the effects of those principles, that are already familiar to you, it is only out of a desire to be thorough.)

1) The main difference is due to caramelization.

The point of malting is to break down starch, which is abundant in the plant embryo, into components more accessible to yeast, thus enhancing fermentation. The starch becomes a combination of sugars, including single or double sugars which are digestible by yeast, and a variety of polysaccharides, which are not. (Irrelevant factoid: the residual polysaccharides are responsible for much of the body in malt beverages.)

The drying that guajolote referred to is often accomplished by roasting, after the plant has sprouted and been washed. As in any dry heat process, the degree of browning can be controlled by both temperature and time. At the extremes, this means that malt could be dried merely by controlling humidity -- in other words, with no heat (beyond ambient) at all; it could also be dried with high heat, causing fairly high amounts of browning. Browning incorporates not just color change, but a myriad of chemical reactions (known as Maillard reactions) that result in textural and flavor changes, some of them quite profound -- think about refined white sugar versus the glaze on creme brulee. It sounds like your liquid malt is a roasted malt that has been dissolved in water -- in other words, a solution of browned sugars.

Cane sugar goes through several stages of heating, washing and certrifugation on its way to full refinement. At each stage, liquid is drawn off; this liquid is molasses, although the least aggressive molasses is nothing more than reduced cane juice. As liquid travels through the process, it is subject to more heat. Therefore it caramelizes. Caramelization also takes place when pure cane juice is reduced to make molasses. While refined sugar is 99+% sucrose, molasses is more complex, including fructose and glucose in their simple states (sucrose is a disaccharide comprising one glucose and one fructose molecule), plus polysaccharides created by the cooking process. In other words, molasses is a solution of browned sugars.

Therefore, the fact that you find liquid malt reminiscent of molasses is perfectly reasonable. They are almost the same thing.

2) The second difference is mainly contingent on your memory of powdered malt being actually malted milk. Malted milk is more powdered milk than malt, and it is obviously less subject to browning. Its flavor relies mainly on the flavor of barley that has been lightly roasted. Given the profund differences in flavor that browning can create, it should not be surprising that it can be very different from the liquid. It's akin to dissolving table sugar in milk and comparing it to Grandma's molasses. Even if you're not thinking of malted milk, the difference between a browned product asn an unbrowned on can be quite significant --note the difference between raw ground beef and a well-crusted hamburger.

Does this make sense? Does it help?


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Thanks, Adam.

I also would have expected the granule size to make a difference. Originally I was going to use a blowtorch, but I'm not handy enough to set up a proper jig. Also, if I'm doing a half-dozen creme brulees, I'm probably going to set 'em on a tray and pop 'em under the broiler, so the test scenario seemed pretty realistic. I don't have a salamander  :sad: , or I would have tried it.

You're out of luck on a brown sugar taste-off. Beet sugar molasses is used to make animal feed, yeast, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. All molasses used to make brown sugar comes from cane.

And they say irony is dead.

I need to correct part of this.

Brown sugar is not made by applying molasses to white sugar. It is made by applying precisely caramelized sugar syrup to white sugar. Since, as noted in the previous post, browning has profound effects on taste and texture, it is not unreasonable to assume that molasses is involved. But it's not.

Consequently, there is no reason for beet sugar packagers to resort to cane sources in order to make brown sugar. The syrups used to make brown sugar can be made from either.

Sorry for the error.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I was looking for something else and stumbled across this article from March 1999 SF Chronicle. Just to be difficult. :wink: One thing though, in the article they say that brown sugar is white sugar plus molassas. Where did you find out that it's not molassas, but just carmelized sugar that makes it brown?

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...7.DTL&type=food

SUGAR, SUGAR

Cane and beet share the same chemistry but act differently in the kitchen

Miriam Morgan, Chronicle Assistant Food Editor

Carolyn Weil and her crew at The Bake Shop in Berkeley were hard at work one morning, boiling down large pots of sugar syrup to make buttercream for the day's buns, cakes and confections.

It was a task the staff had done hundreds of times. But this morning the normally silky syrup crystallized into large, chunky granules.

Weil tossed it, along with plans for most of the baked goods she wanted to sell that day.

Not happy with a day's work and income wasted, Weil investigated, checking her equipment and ingredients and determining the one variable.

Sugar.

Weil's supplier had substituted another brand and, as it turns out, another type of sugar altogether. Weil thought she was getting cane sugar, but instead she got beet.

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Please contact Carolyn Weil or the Bakers Dozen re their extensive research on the merits of cane sugar vs. beet. I am a Bakers Dozen member who learned a lot about sugar from the group.

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Thank you Dave for that thorough explaination. And now guajolote's explaination makes sense too (thanks guajolote!). Just needed to dumb it down a bit. Not really, but the more specific, the better I can grasp it. I didn't think you were condescending at all. Better to cover all of the bases in plain language than have me post yet again!

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I don't think this has been answered in this thread. Besides adding sweetness and I assume color through caramelization, does sugar play any other role in the baking process? Would it's absence affect the texture or otherwise detract from a cake product?


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I don't think this has been answered in this thread.  Besides adding sweetness and I assume color through caramelization, does sugar play any other role in the baking process?  Would it's absence affect the texture or otherwise detract from a cake product?

Absolutely! Among other things, sugar contributes to structure; when creamed with butter it acts as a leavener; it causes baked goods to retain moisture; when whipped with egg whites it stabilizes the foam and helps the protein remain flexible; caramelization adds mucho flavor, not just color (just like browning meat); used properly, sugar is a flavor enhancer like salt - and that's just in baking. These are just examples off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many others I'm missing.

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Nightscotsman, some day I will have some semblance of the experience upon which you draw. :wub:

And I'm saying this now, before you go to school!

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