The alpha-amylase enzyme develops when grain sprouts. It has a direct impact on bread quality and adversely affects the malting process. As little as 5% sprouted grain, mixed with 95% good grain, can render the entire mixture unacceptable. A certain amount of alpha-amylase is necessary for proper baking to occur. The alpha-amylase breaks down starches to provide sugars to help fuel the fermentation process.
The amount of enzyme present can have a direct bearing upon the quality of bread produced. When the alpha-amylase activity is right, a high volume bread with firm and soft texture is achieved.
If the activity is too high, a sticky bread crumb and low volume may result. If the activity is too low, a dry bread crumb with large holes may result. Measured using the "falling number" method. See also FALLING NUMBER.
Added by: shipton-mill