The "umami bomb" for baked goods

 Malted milk cookies

In the savory world, there are plenty of ways to amplify the flavor of foods with ingredients sometimes called "umami bombs" - things like Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and fish sauce. No one has ever really called any ingredient a "umami bomb" on the pastry side of things, at least not until now. Stella Parks, aka The Brave Tart, says there is one such ingredient: malted milk powder.

Commonly sold under the Carnation and Horlicks brands, malted milk powder is made of wheat flour, malted barley extract, powdered milk, salt, and baking soda. The combination of "concentrated grain extracts gives malted milk powder a roasted, toasty, earthy flavor, while the powdered milk adds a bit of creamy richness," Parks notes. She says it can lend butterscotch or toffee notes to baked goods. 

Don't confuse malted milk powder with other common baking ingredients like diastatic or non-diastatic malt powder. The enzymes in the former can cause problems with yeasted doughs, while the latter doesn't have the same blend of ingredients and can upset the balance of sugar in a recipe.

Parks suggests using it to taste in your favorite cookie doughs, cake batters, ice creams, and custards. Note that the milky notes will increase once the product is heated. The EYB Library has many recipes to get you started with this "umami bomb" for pastry, including these Member favorites:

Campfire delight cupcakes with malted Belgian chocolate frosting & toasted marshmallow filling from Sweetapolita
Cocoa-buttermilk birthday cake from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Chewy malted milk chocolate cookies from Serious Eats (pictured top)
Malt ball and peanut crunch semifreddo from See You in the Morning by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito and Christina Tosi
Malted-milk crèmes brûlées from Martha Stewart Living Magazine


  • FrenchCreekBaker  on  3/11/2017 at 7:04 PM

    What an interesting article! And nicely done. Pointing out that there are different types of malt was useful for beginning bakers. And I liked the recipe suggestions following the post. I am going to go buy some malted milk powder and give it a try thanks to you.

  • nadiam1000  on  3/12/2017 at 9:17 AM

    I love malted milk powder (not as a drink so much) and have added it to cookies and waffles in the past so I appreciate this article and the suggested recipes. Stella also has a recipe on Serious Eats - Malted Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cookies - which looks like a great twist on the standard.

Post a comment

You may only comment on the blog if you are signed in. Sign In

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!