Cooking Parts – Baking and Donut Math

Doughnut Math

Remove 1 part and this is a doughnut. Do the math.

Muffin math first, though. In part I we made muffins and tea cakes based on the math that the doughnuts, popovers, tea breads, waffles, fritters, muffins and pancakes are based on. When you see how removing 1 part from the recipe will get you some amazing apple cider donuts or cruellers, you realize how important this is. And the popovers into cream puffs with chocolate icng trick. Read on.

220 grams (around 1 3/4 cups flour) is 200% or 2 parts of the recipe. That means that one part for this recipe and any recipe in this group requires 110 grams of something. You really need a scale, but we provided approximate volume amounts.

For 6 muffins and a a small tea cake that’s okay. But if you were making 60 of these in a professional bakery being off by 200 grams of any ingredient would really matter.

For muffins and tea breads the ratio is always 2 parts flour to 2 parts liquid. So if you have 220 grams ( 2 parts) you need 220 grams (2 parts) of liquid. In this case we used yogurt. That counts as a liquid ingredient. It happened to be a cup of yogurt that weighed 220 grams.

Any muffin or quick bread has another ratio. You need 1 part egg and 1 part fat. Now you could use bacon fat for a savory muffin that everyone would love you for, or shmaltz in a mushroom muffin, or melted butter in a peach and caramelized almond muffin, but it has to weigh 110 grams. That is what we said 1 part weighs.

So, you need 110 grams of eggs. Good thing that 2 large eggs almost always weighs 110 grams. Don’t sweat about 10 to 20 grams over or under for such a small batch of muffins. It’s close enough.

Now, as for the salt and baking powder (and 1 tsp of baking soda because we used yogurt) this recipe calls for 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 2 tsp of baking powder. I always use 1 TB of baking powder because I usually have a lot of add ins, but the 1 tsp of soda that interacted wit the yogurt made up for the rising ability of that other teaspoon of baking powder.

Depending on the add-in I can get away with up to 1/2 to 1 1/2 parts. In the recipe above the bananas were 1 part, the raisins one half part. Don’t fill the muffin tins more than 2/3 full. Extra batter could go into making two baby tea cakes. I threw some minced toasted brazil nuts I had lying around in those. So do you want to make waffles and pancakes, fritters, doughnuts or popovers next?

Cooking Parts – Baking

Let’s say you didn’t grow up in a family that loved to bake. I did. Or even steam fermented doughs or buns made with some type of wild yeast or active ferment. Ditto. It was a very complicated multiple cultures and ethnicities thing.

Everything almost always goes back to that triangle of the Chinese, Arab and Indian people thousands and thousands of years ago. When they migrated outward they brought with them things that the people of their new homelands turned into unique and amazing things using ingredients and techniques associated with those countries or people and their terroir or climate.

In the history of fermentation the development of a way to grind up grains into flour on a large practical scale shifted the almost universal use of rice and millet as the basis of all fermentations to wheat.

Barley was pretty much sprouted to make sugar or malt when the natural amylase enzymes that break down the starches in things like grains and beans once activated. Typically, barley doesn’t contain enough gluten to make anything but softer, cake type things. You could add a little ground barley flour to anything you bake, but almost every all purpose flour on the market already contains sprouted barley flour.

The items listed are pretty much all the same recipe with very minor variations. The difference between a tea cake and a muffin is really just container you bake it in. Got leftover pancake batter? Add a little more fat such as butter or oil and some fruit or cheese or vegetables to make a sweet or savory tea cake or muffin.



Then again, have any leftover fritter batter. The batter to make fritters is waffle or pancake batter without fat. The more fat contained in something you fry, the fattier it will be, so a great fritter shouldn’t have any fat in it. Likewise, with doughnuts. Had to tell the difference between those two except for the shape.

Doughnuts are usually just fritter batter with some type of leavening like baking powder or maybe yeast. With doughnuts with added ingredients like applesauce you might want to reduce the liquid amount. Add the apples to the liquid and weigh it. The important thing is that you maintain the basic recipe ratios..

Popovers are the item here that usually doesn’t contain any leavening other than egg. The fat that they are cooked in is usually a great source of flavor. Yorkshire Pudding are popovers that use the caramelized drippings and beef fat from roast beef.

To a professional Chef or Baker the goal is maintain the ratio of flour to water. Or Starch to liquid. Then you add small amounts of other ingredients, but always in what are called baker’s percentages. If you use baker’s percentages you just really need to know the weight of any ingredient you want to add.

When making bread, the flour is the cornerstone of bakers percentages. You can do the same with quick breads, which are basically breads without yeast. But right know I need to make muffins.

I need to make muffins (but not these this time) for breakfast. So I have a few items I want to use up. Some yogurt, some dried out raisins, toasted hazelnut oil, over ripe bananas that I could easily make into vinegar but I need muffins now. Part II coming up.

Muffins and a Little Tea Bread



  • 1 3/4 cup or 220 grams flour (100% AP or 165 grams AP and 55 grams sorghum)
  • 1/2 cup or 110 grams organic dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

If using salt instead of shio koji mix in with the above ingredients. The idea to is to blend them together very well so it will be easier to very quickly mix in the liquid ingredients.

  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup ( yogurt or nut, cow, rice or soy milk) or 220 grams
  • 2 eggs or 110 grams eggs
  • 3/5 cup or 110 grams toasted hazelnut oil (or any oil)
  • 4 ounces or 110 grams or 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 2 TB shio-koji or 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup or 55 grams plumped raisins

Mix the liquid ingredients together very well. Then, dump the dry ingredients on top of the wet ones and mix gently until they just come together. You can start mixing, then wait ten seconds, then start mixing then wait another ten seconds to allow everything to be absorbed.

Do not whip or beat the ingredients. Use your biscuit hand! What does that mean? Gently mix ingredients slowly so as not to create heat nor gluten. Always best to do this is a colder area when possible. Some people like to chill their wet ingredients.



Irish Soda Bread with Walnuts



  • 2 cups or 300 grams malted bread flour (or AP flour with barley)
  • 2 TB or 26 grams shio koji (or 2 TB sweet miso or 1 TB salt)
  • 3/4 cup or 75 grams raisins
  • 1 cup or 275 grams milk kefir (or acid whey, whey or buttermilk)
  • 1/2 cup or 130 grams water

Raisins and flour fermenting in milk kefir with shio-koji.

Mix everything together well. It will be like a thick pancake batter. Refrigerate overnight or several days. Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Knead in the walnut flour, walnuts and brown sugar, then the baking soda and powder.



  • 1 cup or 75 grams roasted, finely chopped walnuts (or more flour or another nut)
  • 1 cup or 150 grams walnut flour (or bread or all purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup or 75 grams light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp or 16 grams baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder (optional, unless you are the unsure type)

Preheat oven to 375F. Plop the dough into the greased pan. Let it sit for a few minutes. Loosely score the top of the bread – if you can, others ignore it – in quarters and make one round loaf that you bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Check after 25 minutes with a digital probe or toothpick (200 F internal). Or, fill 24 muffin cups 1/2 full and bake 20 – 25 minutes.



Cultured Orange Cake


Remove the peel from the oranges with a vegetable peeler and blend with the rest of the orange when making the cake. This will ensure better distribution of orange (or whatever citrus) flavor you choose.

We made this cake first with chopped up whole oranges with peel removed for better distribution made like betterazuke pickles. Those are the type of pickles usually layered with a whole lot of salt, sugar and koji. They are often aged for a long time. Let us know if you want to do that.

Otherwise, a hack just requires some pre-made rice koji. An even easier all purpose hack is bto use kasu (the dregs from making doboroku or sake) with salt.

The easiest thing of all would be to just use your favorite sake or liquid shio koji.

Whatever you decide to do, this is a really tasty, versatile and easy to make pound cake like treat with just a blender.



Ingredients
  • 450 grams or 16 ounces cultured butter
  • 2 TB shio-koji (salt koji or liquid shio koji)
  • 294 grams or 2 cups organic coconut palm sugar
  • 3 extra large or 200 grams of eggs
  • 420 grams or 1 to 2 navel oranges, pureed.
  • 1 TB lemon, orange, or vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 486 grams or 3 cups flour


Liquid shio-koji can now be purchased online or from many Asian grocery stores. Our friends at The Japanese Pantry and at MTC Kitchen also sell it (and lots of other really cool ingredients). Check out your local Sunrise Mart near Brooklyn Kura if you are in the area.

There is really no difference between liquid shio-koji and the pastier version except for perhaps salt content and a little water. You can blend your butter with liquid shio koji and let it ferment for days or weeks in the refrigerator. You can do the same with the oranges, as we did for four weeks.

Let them ferment for as long as you like. Or not. It’s all good. You can also blend rice koji with water until a paste forms. Add more water and some salt and you have shio-koji. Keep it at 135F for 6 hours and you have the same exact shio-koji that people take weeks to make. The enzymatic activity is the same.

The salt reduces the amylase enzymes that digest sugar and increases the protease enzymes that like proteins. But it will still be a fleetingly sweet and savory marinade and all purpose condiment.

Again, you can always just take out your blender and make a thick paste of the wet ingredients and blend into the flour mix. Simplest, best cake ever.


Icing

The icing for this was originally made by creating an amasake type paste using tapioca starch and Aspergillus oryzae (koji) grown out on orange peels. Perhaps this is a new technique to you.


Orange and shio-koji and tapioca sugar icing

As I described this was recreated from the notes from researchers working with spent coffee grinds, cassava peels, fruit waste, peanuts, wheat bran, soybeans, ad other things that were of enormous interest then and now.

By then I mean in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We will be publishing a whole lot more on these things with recipes using a wide range of Aspergillus types as well as other filamentous fungus (like the ones used to make tempeh) we’ve been making since the 1970s.

Here is a really easy and very tasty way to make this very quickly just like your grandma did back then. We just finished filming a series of videos about making and using shio koji or salted rice koji, but you could also follow the old school way we describe here that most people still think is the way to make shio koji or just buy some from one of the many online or retail outlets that sell it. Either the liquid shiio-koji or the paste works as well.


Ingredients
  • 2 TB fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 cups or 56 grams confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp teaspoon liquid shio-koji
  • More confectioner’s sugar as desired if you want it thicker)

Whisk everything together really well. Either serve on the side of the cake when the cake is completely cooled down on a towel, or drizzle over the cake.

Blend together the pureed orange and egg base with the flour and soda. Bake at 350F for 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake sit outside the oven for at least 30 minutes before removing from the pans. Let cool completely before icing. The icing is not required – you could just dust it with confectioner’s sugar – but it’s sweetness coupled with the orange zest and juice brings out layers of flavor in the cake.


Either drizzle the icing on the cooled cake, or serve on the side. You can add more citrus juice to the icing and let it soak in as well, but this cake is not at all sweet despite two cups of organic coconut palm sugar.

Chocolate Cake #7


Fold a sheet of parchment paper across the pan to lift the cake out after it has cooled.

This version of a versatile chocolate cake base is one of our favorites, not just because of taste but also the variations in ingredients that can be made.

You can easily make it a vegan, and gluten free cake. We’ve done that using an egg substitute made with nut or rice milk. We like the egg white and old sourdough rye starter more because we often have those lying around.


Dark cocoa and dark rye sourdough starter

You could replace the sourdough starter with mascarpone cheese or cultured butter or cocoa butter. Otherwise, the only fat would come from the finely ground almonds and the unsweetened chocolate you chose to use instead of the cocoa powder. It’s all good.

The version that results from the recipe below is not at all sweet, has very little fat, but is very satisfying with something to contrast all the deep goodness of the cake. Black coffee or milk kefir or nut milk or tea all work well. As does cow’s milk. People say this cake rocks with a stout beer.

You could simply slice and serve this cake. In this case we made an orange infused maple syrup, and served it with some cinnamon infused milk kefir for a probiotic kick.

You can also use maple syrup, infused or not, to soak the cake then freeze in slices for super easy ice cream sandwiches. Or you cold coat then with a semi-sweet chocolate coating – like tempered chocolate with a little corn syrup or a little maple syrup – then eat them straight out of the freezer.


This also makes a great bread pudding with eggs, milk, butter, sugar and sour cherries.


Ingredients
  • 112 grams or 1 cup fine almond flour
  • 55 grams unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 278 grams old sourdough starter
  • 55 g or 1/4 cup unrefined, organic sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 110 grams or 1/2 cup mirin (honey or rice syrup work as well)
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TB chocolate extract

Directions
  • Preheat your oven to 350F
  • Grease a 9 by 5 inches pan. Line with parchment paper to lift out.
  • In a large bowl, whip cocoa, sourdough starter and mirin
  • Whisk the eggs whites and the sugar side to side until peaks form.
  • Add the blended almond flour, baking soda and baking powder.
  • Add the sourdough, cocoa and mirin mix to the batter until blended. 
  • Pour into prepared pan
  • Bake for 45 minutes or 190F

Serving suggestion

Corn Sourdough with wild yeasts and S.bayanus


Come try this tasty bread at our event this Monday, January 27th, 7 to 9:00. We still have 9 seats left! Eventbrite (Register at this link, or at MeetUp for cash donations). With Chris Cuzme and Mary Izett that create their brews at Fifth Hammer Brewing Company in Long Island City, where the event is taking place. And try some things that we made using enzymes, and yeasts starters.

We typically have an ongoing sourdough starter that we feed at least once a day. We never throw out any of it because we have so many uses for it. It’s fermented dough.

We typically feed the starter based on the formula described below. If you are taking it out of the fridge where it has been stored for a while, you have to feed it at least 3 or four times before it will be active enough to raise your dough. That means at least 24 hours.

First, put the recently used starter into a clean jar and add the water. 75F degree water is best. Not hotter. Mix it very well. Then add the flour and mix. Cover tighly or not.

Keeping it at 72F to 85F is best unless you want to grow it more slowly. It typically takes about 3 hours to become active after each feeding. It should at least double in size. The most common failure to rise issue is that the starter is not active enough. Same with brewing.



  • 40 grams sourdough starter from a recent previous batch
  • 70 grams strong bread flour
  • 70 grams water at 75F

After you have started the process of getting your starter active, mix the flour and water that you are going to use for the bread. We like to let it sit, covered, in a warm spot for at least three hours as well.

We highly recommend you do this step. If you want you can mix your flour and water then refrigerate and bring to room temperature the next day. Or even several days later. This is called autolyze, a part of starch hydrolization that is very similar to the process called gelatinization.

  • 700 grams bread flour
  • 450 grams water


  • 640 grams corn biga with S. bayanus yeast
  • 140 grams active starter
  • 36 grams shio-koji (if omitted, use coarse sea salt as specified below)

A biga is made by mixing flour and water together with a small amount of yeast. It is then refrigerated overnight or longer. We used corn bran and rice bran for this biga.

The yeast we used was S.bayanus. This yeast is typically made for wine and beer brewing. You could use another yeast if you like.

We mix the biga and the sourdougb starter together very well, turning it onto itself in a bowl for several minutes.

We then took the mix of water and flour from several hours earlier and mixed that into the biga and sourdough starter mix. We did this while adding the shio koji.

We aimed for 2% salt in this bread, based on bakers percentages. That means that we added up all the flour we used including the flour that was used in the sourdough starter and the biga.

The total flour amount was 1100 grams. That means we needed 22 grams of salt or 170 grams of aged, salty shio-koji. We added 148 grams more of shio koji to the mix after we rested it for 30 minutes.

We kneaded dough, several times while letting it rise again. Finally, we put one half in the fridge to test the yeast – and the other half in a large loaf pan. It was lft to rise for 120 minutes.


9 AM
11 AM

Bake at 450 for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 2 hours.

We already have some great ideas for some other yeasts. All baked goods should have one form of filamentous fungus (Aspergillus, Rhizopus, etc.) or bacterial enzymes or both in them. We already have some great ideas for some other yeasts.



Walnut Amasake Bittersweet Chocolate Muffins


Baking with microbes

Almost everything we bake, brew cook or ferment contains one or more microbes. Bacteria, yeasts, fungus and other fermented products that already contain microbes (like miso, milk kefir, and vinegar) work exceptionally well in and with baked goods.

Even if you set aside the yeasts common in bread baking, we almost always use shio-koji instead of salt, milk kefir or amasake instead of milk, and often lacto-fermented fruits,vegetables and even grains in baking.

Muffins and tea breads are basically are usually the same batter baked in different size baking pans. Obviously a bigger pan means a longer baking time, maybe 45 minutes as opposed to 30 minutes at 350F for the 8 big muffins that this recipe makes.


Ingredients

Our rules of muffin making as well as tea breads are simple.

  • The batter should be just barely mixed
  • The batter should be on the wetter side
  • Never fill a pan more than two thirds full
  • Add 1 tsp baking soda with the dry ingredients
  • Mix ins like nuts go with dry ingredients
  • Fruits and/or flavored essences or sauces go with wet stuff
  • Don’t mix in wet fruits or ferments until the end if color maters
  • Let muffin batter rest and puff up before spooning into cups

Half baked at 15 minutes. Looking good.

The recipe for these muffins pretty much follow the standard muffin ratio that every baker has memorized. Butter by weight equals sugar by weight. That combined weight is the weight of the flour. It’s also the weight in whatever measurement system you are using in liquid. In most cases add-ins like nuts or berries should never exceed in volume the sugar or flour volume.

Because we add a fermented or microbe inclusive ingredient to our baked goods – typically of a lower, acidic pH – we always add baking soda with the powder. Sourdough leavened muffins follow a different procedure based on bakers ratios that we’ll explain in another post.



  • 8 ounces or 1 1/2 cups or 236 grams all purpose flour or other
  • 4 ounces or 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or other
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4.3 ounces or 1 cup or 124 grams roasted chopped walnuts
  • 3.1 ounces or 1/2 cup or 90 grams bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks
  • 1.2 ounces or 2 TB or 32 grams shio-koji (or 1 tsp salt)
  • 8 ounces or 3/4 cup or 230 grams rice amasake (or nut or dairy milk)
  • 1 TB vanilla (or chocolate extract or mirin or soy sauce)
  • 4.5 ounces or 2 extra large or 126 grams eggs (or two vegan eggs)
  • 5 ounces or 1/2 cup or 156 grams dark maple syrup
  • 4 ounces or 1/2 cup or 112 grams roasted walnut oil (or butter/oil)


Procedure

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Have bottom shelf ready for one or two muffin tins.
  • Prepare the tins with grease or just paper linings.
  • Mix flour, coconut palm sugar, baking powder, roasted chopped walnuts, bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks together
  • Whisk your eggs, walnut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, amasake, and shio-koji together well. Add to just incorporate with the dry ingredients.
  • Add add ins if you have reserved them to maintain the color or spacing of the add ins in your batter. *Check your chocolate to ensure it is non-dairy if vegan baking
  • Spoon about 4 ounces into each of 8 prepared muffin cups.
  • If using a smaller muffin tea or mini-muffin pans remember the rule – never more than 2/3 full.
  • Bake at 350F for 30 minutes in a pre-heated oven.
  • Don’t open the oven door until 20 minutes have elapsed.
  • Internal temperature should be 205 F, or a clean toothpick.
  • Remove muffins from oven and let rest 30 minutes away from heat.
  • Place on wire rack for further cooling after removing from the pan.


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Making Koji, Malting

Making shio-koji
Shio-koji. Also called salt koji. See below for instructions below on making it.

Shio

Spent rye grains inoculated with Aspergillus luchuensis and Rhizopus oryzae and other microbes for a sour rye liquid for baking and for brewing. That’s advanced level. Keep reading.


A fermentable sugar is something that a yeast or bacteria uses as an energy source. Grains (cereals) such as barley or millet or rice have a lot of starch. To be useful they have to be broken down into smaller pieces called simple sugars.

Filamentous fungus are a specific type of microbe capable of doing this. Either alone or in different combinations koji (Aspergillus and another specific fungus called Rhizopus) does this by creating enzymes that power or catalyse this process. They can break down lots of things.

Specific types of cultures or microbes that either include koji or are entirely made up of koji are used. They break things down into smaller pieces by creating many different types of enzymes.

Koji can break down starches, fats, proteins and other things from organic sources. Usually this is done through a process called hydrolysis, which just means water is involved in the process.

Koji (A. oryzae) is better at – and does not produce harmful toxins like a close relative Aspergillus flavus – at breaking things down. The breakdown enzymes that brewers are mostly concerned with are amylases, glucoamylases, pectinases, proteases, and lipases.

Koji is genetically and specifically capable of making hydrolytic enzymes and enzymes that move sugars and other substances around during fermentation. Remember that without enzymes everything would need more energy that would ever be available.

You can also use koji in it’s extracted form as well as a whole substrate such as koji grown on rice to make pickles, sake, shoyu koji, amasake and more.

Aspergillus oryzae has been specifically selected out over many years so that the strain we use typically knows what to do. When a great batch of sake was made, brewers used the same strain that had made that batch to create a new one with the same desirable koji properties.

Malting is done by sprouting or germinating a grain. Many different kinds can be used including rice, barley, and corn. All grains contain a lot of starch. The serve as a seeds energy source.

If you expose dried grains to water and the right temperature they will sprout, creating enzymes to break down starches for the grain to grow. This is called malting. Very useful for a plant until there are leaves that can get energy through photosynthesis. But brewers get the. enzymes before they are spent on growth. They are used to break down their starches.

As long as some fermentable sugars are available we create a moromi or wort to make alcohol. Whether you are making beer, sake, vinegar or soy sauce, wild yeasts or specifically selected yeasts turn the sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide and heat.

The heat comes from the microbes doing their job has to be carefully controlled during koji making, as well as during the process of making beer or sake or another product. There are different ways this can be done, as there are different types of koji better for specific outcomes such as sake or shoyu。

But whether it’s sake or beer – which actually usually uses malted grains that produce the same type of enzymes as koji – the same saying applies to all microbrewing: “Ichi koji, ni moto, san zukuri”. First koji, second the Moto, third the fermentation.


We are having our last #KojiFest2019 event and the first #Zymes2020 event at Fifth Hammer Brewing in Long Island City on December 16th, 2019. You must pre-register for the event.

In the meantime, we will be publishing this 16 part series about how to make koji and extract it’s enzymes, and how to use what the koji is made on – a substrate – directly in brewing or baking or miso or sauce making.


About Enzymes

Enzymes serve two roles. They break down things such as tiny bits of food that you eat into smaller things. Or they combine smaller things like the amino acids from proteins into bigger things. Enzymes make possible every vital function of living things. Sometimes enzymes already exist in living things like your gut.

But most times they are used process things into food or drinks. Without the enzymes in malted barley, for example, it’s unlikely that either bread nor bread would exist as they do today.

Enzymes from koji have been used in European and American food manufacturing for at least 100 years now. We will get into what they have sometimes been combined with (other microbes, yeasts, techniques).

They are very safe to use, but you must be careful when handling them. Anything that can tear through grains or the muscles of animals should not be handled carelessly (see below).


Joichi Takamine

“Curiously enough this tiny and important hustler has scarcely attracted attention in the Occident, and this fact made me determine to work for it’s introduction to industrial use in the United States”

This quote is from a paper printed in 1914 in The Journal of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry (Vol.6, No.10). The author is Jokichi Takamine. He’s talking about koji (A.oryzae).

One of the things he was trying to do was to address the concerns of brewers and maltster – the people that make sprouted grain malt for beer – about the cost of the ingredients to create diastatic enzymes. The price of barley could vary. considerably from season to season. He had earlier filed a patent in the US to do so, “in a process not hitherto practiced”. He succeeded.


Takadiastase

On February 23, 1894, a patent was filed in the US : “The object of this invention is to prepare and manufacture diastatic enzyme, or soluble ferment in a concentrated form which possesses the power of transforming starch into’ sugar for use in various industries, by a process not hitherto practiced, and in a very economical and practical manner. 

My invention is based upon the utilization of the property possessed by certain fungi during their growth on proper media of producing diastatic enzyme.

Typically, barley was malted. Malting creates diastatic enzymes. But Takamine thought of using something that was pretty much being thrown away, yet which could produce way more diastatic power and be less perishable. 

Despite some violent outbursts suspected to have come from the maltsters at the time afraid of losing both money and their businesses, the brewing and food manufacturing industries in in the US ultimately adopted the use of enzymes, sometimes malt from barley or other grains for beer, but overwhelmingly from fungal enzymes from Aspergillus in baking, food processing and medicine.

Today both brewing supply houses and enzyme companies sell specific enzymes from many fungus, molds, even bacteria but different types of Aspergillus (koji) are used extensively throughout the world.

Takamine’s substance became an amazingly useful drug used to help people digest food. Enzymes are a very big deal. You can make your own as described below, but be aware that a small microbrewing operation can very quickly become larger than the brewing or refrigeration or heating capacity of your space.


How to Make Takadiastase
  • 5 gallon container
  • 2 1/4 pounds (1024 grams) wheat bran
  • 3 gallons lukewarm water (9000 grams)
  • 1/2 cup (138 grams) coarse 100% NaCl salt
  • Aspergillus oryzae spores (1 gram pure spores)

Taka-Diastase is made with Aspergillus oryzae, the hardest working fungus in the world. It is made on wheat bran. We milled off the bran from winter wheat berries – they have tasty bran, but other types of wheat brans work well – but you can buy it in sizes from one to 50 pounds.

We suggest you start off with 2 and 1/4 pounds (1024 grams) of wheat bran. Remember that wheat bran is unlike wheat berries or even flour. It is typically very light when dry and flies everywhere.

This is especially important when you are about to harvest (or dekoji) your finished Taka-Diastase. Unlike, say, rice koji, you have to consider how to reduce the temperature without fans after a certain point.

As the temperature decreases and it dries out, fans will blow it everywhere. I recommend either using wood that can absorb a lot of water – when you reduce the heat of something the water will either evaporate in the air or soak into whatever it is on.

We often use lots of cloths when making bean or rice koji. Whatever you chose, be prepared to have lots of cloth changes or at least one other wooden to container to transfer the koji into as it dries.

Unless you are going to use it almost as soon as it is finished – we sometimes have a salt brine ready to throw prepared koji into while still warm – you have to dry it out. Otherwise, it will continue to grow.

And a moist pile of amino acids are a feast for all the wild microbes that hang out in the air.

Did any of this seem complicated or overwhelming? Most people don’t ever make their own koji. You can easily buy it. In 35 pound boxes rice koji can be quite reasonably priced.

But if you only want to make a pound or two of koji, it’s cheaper making it yourself. You can also buy the powdered enzymes. But here are basic guidelines to make any type of koji. (Part 2, next post.)


The Awesome Power of Koji

There is actually a large body of evidence on why bread and pastry bakers, farmers, and koji growers must be very careful about both inhaling aspergillus spores, as well as getting it on their skin. We will talk about that as well during the year long series, just remember to always wears gloves and masks when dealing with enzymes. 

It makes sense that something with the power to break down meat, fish, or very hard grains would be something to treat with caution. Sometimes things that are obvious to someone working in a professional, including the pharmaceutical industry and food manufacturing industries where Aspergillus and enzymes are used extensively, are not well known or made public.

Please be careful when handling enzymes created by anything, either from a sprouted grain or a fungus. Here are is a very small sample of some of the things that can happen when inhaling spores or enzymes from Aspergillus oryzae. As in the koji we are describing how to make.

  • Valdivieso, R & Subiza, Jose & Hinojosa, Mariel & Carlos, E & Subiza, E. (1994). Baker’s asthma caused by alpha amylase. Annals of allergy. 73. 337-42.  Abstract: Two bakers with bronchial asthma and two with rhinoconjunctivitis are described. Prick and RAST tests were positive with wheat flour in all of them, but the challenge test (nasal or bronchial) with wheat flour extract was positive only in one asthmatic baker. The prick test, RAST, and nasal or bronchial challenge done with alpha amylase extract (a glycolytic enzyme obtained from Aspergillus oryzae and used as a flour additive) were positive in all four patients. Our results support previous data indicating that alpha amylase used in bakeries is an important antigen that could cause respiratory allergy in bakers. It can function as sole causative allergen or in addition with other allergens used in the baking industry.
  • Sharma BB, Singh S, Singh V. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis: the dug-well lung. Allergy Asthma Proc 2013;34:e59–64.
  • Gerfaud-Valentin M, Reboux G, Traclet J, et al. Occupational hypersensitivity pneumonitis in a baker: a new cause. Chest 2014;145:856–8.

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