Malt extract is a light brown coloured viscous liquid which is commonly used in biscuit and cracker production, providing a wide range of benefits:

  • Contributing towards sweetness
  • Enhancing flavour
  • Improving crispness/snap
  • Reducing localised hot spots – helping to produce a more even colour
  • It even has the potential to reduce bake time

It is the perhaps the final two in the list above where the use of malt extract gives the final crackers a genuine premium appearance, without it the products can look bland. Adding a small amount of malt extract to the mix encourages more general browning of the surface which is triggered by a Maillard reaction. It is this which also provides the opportunity for reduced bake time.

Take for example a simple Oat Cracker. Oat crackers are a popular consumer choice particularly because of the much-publicised health benefits of oats. However, the flavour of oats whilst distinctive can be a little intense. The inclusion of malt extract in the recipe not only helps to mask some of these flavours but also adds savoury notes and offers improvements in colour with the change to reduce bake time.. Consider the recipe and visual diagrams below where malt extract has been included at 4.8%.

With the inclusion of malt extract a cracker baked for 14 minutes has a more golden coloured compared to that of an 18-minute bake with no malt extract. A reduction in bake time of 22%! –
And an improvement in flavour.

IngredientControl %Test %
Porridge Oats34.133.3
Plain Flour25.527.3
Light Malt Extract4.8

Malt extract is also available in a powder form, where liquid extract has either been
spray-dried or vacuum band dried to produce a variety of particles sizes, flavours and
colour intensity. The resultant material can be used in similar ways to the liquid extract but is offering the benefits of dry powder handling rather than liquid.

One application that benefits from this is biscuits. By simply replacing some of the refined sugar with malt extract, a biscuit is made with a far richer colour and improved flavour and once again bake time can be reduced. In the following biscuit recipe, Spraymalt Light has been included at 3.8%. A test biscuit baked for 11 minutes with the inclusion of Spraymalt will produce similar colour hues and flavour to a biscuit baked for 13 minutes without malt extract. A reduction in bake time of 15%.

IngredientsControl %Test %
Icing Sugar17.513.7
Vegetable Fat17.517.5
Skimmed Milk Powder0.50.5
Bicarbonate of Soda0.30.3
Spraymalt Light3.8

These are just a few examples demonstrating where the addition of malt extract, whether liquid or dried, to biscuit and cracker recipes will help reduce bake time, whilst still maintaining desirable biscuit attributes and improving the flavour and texture. A supplementary benefit is and improvement in colour hue, introducing a more desirable golden colour. There are a host of other baked products that benefit in a similar way through the inclusion of malt. And malt is made from cereals using just heat and water in the process – healthy and nutritious!