Originally Posted by Epiphanic
I'm curious now. How does the amount of water affect the efficiency? Aren't steeping and mashing functionally the same thing?
If you have too much water the enzymes become diluted and don't get to contact the starch to convert it to sugar. What you really want is a relatively thick mash so the enzymes can readily find the starches when you mash.
Time is also a factor (the longer the more conversion). The OP 'steeped' for an hour at 2 quarts to a lb. Most people use 1 to 1.5 quarts to a lb (thicker mash), and conversion is usually done in about 20 to 30 minutes.
If he had only 1 or 2 lbs in 2 gallons, he would have likely gotten a lot less conversion.