Food

How to buy flour in Austria

Give it your best guess…

I like my baking. I’m missing Great British Bake Off but have recently discovered Der Grosse Backen to improve my cake-based German vocab. Austrian supermarkets are confusing and ruined my first attempts to bake here. It turns out flour differs significantly between America, the UK and continental Europe- who knew?! So here is all you need to know about flours… 

In the UK, we have:

  • “00” flour: finely milled flour used for pasta mainly. This may be the same as America’s pastry flour
  • Plain flour: like it says. America all-purpose flour (although some might disagree with that merger)
  • Self-raising flour: flour with raising agent, self-rising in the US
  • Wholemeal flour: includes the bran. Called wholewheat in the US
  • Whole grain flour: includes all of the wheat grain
  • Strong/bread flour: use for bread. Bread flour in the US

In America, along with pastry flour, you also have cake flour. How lovely and simply you have made it!

So far, so easy. Let’s get into Europe. France, Germany, Italy and Austria all use different numbering classification systems. They are all broadly based on the amount of ash found in 100g of flour (burn it and see what’s left- because that’s what we all do in the kitchen). Wholewheat has a higher ash content: so the higher the number, the closer to wholegrain it is.

Time for a table:

Italy France Germany Austria Description
00 40 405 W480 UK’s pasta flour

America’s pastry flour

Low gluten content

0 55 550 W700 Plain flour

All-purpose flour

1 80 812 Strong or bread flour

High gluten content

2 110 1050 High gluten content; no direct equivalent but first clear flour in US is the closest

Use with other flours to provide more elasticity

1200 Light wholemeal/wholewheat
Farina integrale di grano tenero 150/160 1600/1700 W1600   Wholemeal/wholewheat flour

Useful flour terms:

  • Mehl: flour
  • Wiezenmehl: wheat flour
  • Volkornwiezen: whole wheat flour
  • Glatt: smooth
  • Griffig: rough
  • Universal: somewhere between smooth and rough apparently
  • Edelweiss: also somewhere between smooth and rough

For extra giggles, the supermarkets have mixed up wheat, rye and spelt flours all on the same shelf! Here are some tips to crack that code:

  • Vorschussmehl 500: very light rye flour
  • Roggen-Volkornmehl: whole rye flour or pumpernickel flour (Type R960 in Austria). Mix this with plain flour to make tasty Austrian-style breads
  • Roggen Mehl 1150: medium to dark rye flour (Type R2500 in Austria)
  • Dinkel Mehl 630: white spelt flour. Finely milled spelt flour often used instead of pastry flour. High gluten content
  • Dinkel-Volkornmehl: whole spelt flour
  • Greiß (or Maisgreiß): made from maize, used to make polenta
  • Weizengreiß: wheat flour from Durum wheat, for semolina when coarse ground. Fine ground for pasta (thanks for comments!)
  • Dinkelgreiß: made from spelt

Now, the problem is once you get technical with your baking, the protein and gluten content of all these different flours is going to be important. That’s when you’re on your own to do your own research. 

A further note, “natron” is sodium bicarbonate, to be used when a recipe asks for bicarbonate of soda/baking soda. Baking powder is “back pulver”. Cream of tartare is NOT apparently Weinstein[backpulver] (thanks for comments below!) but Weinsteinsäure available in apoteks.

Yeast is “hefe” which you can find easily in dry and solid cube form.

11 thoughts on “How to buy flour in Austria

  1. Greiss in Austria is normally Maisgreiss which is yellow and used for polenta.
    Weissengreiss is wheat flour from Durum wheat and that is for semolina, coarse ground. Fine ground for pasta.

    1. very helpful! I must admit that greiss is not something I’m not an expert in so I’m grateful for the information!

      1. Hi there,
        It’s “Grieß” not “Greiss” 😉
        In Austria, the standard semolina (“Grieß” or “Weizengrieß”) is made out of wheat. There is also semolina made out of maize, called “Mais-Grieß” or “Polenta”. And “Dinkelgrieß”, which is made out of spelt.
        “Grieß” is , for example, used for an austrian dish called “Grießnockerl”. 🙂
        Hope that helps 🙂

        1. very helpful! i do know Grießnockerl (now with added Austrian keyboard correct spelling…), they’re tasty! What do you use Dinkelgreiß for?

  2. I live in western Austria. I’ve been using “Universalmehl” as AP flour, but it’s confusingly has an ash count of 480, the same as Kuchenmehl (cake flour). Seems to work fine though. I’m trying to find bleached cake flour here for a recipe, but no luck.
    As for cream of tartar, I had to figure this out recently. It is NOT Weinstein Backpulver. What you need is Weinsteinsäure, and you have to get it from the Apotheke, not the Spar or wherever you shop. Fun conversation to have with the pharmacist when you speak German poorly.

    1. Thanks for the tips! Will update the post with your comments… I also use universalsmehl as all-purpose. I had read that Weinstein backpulver and weinsteinsäure were the same thing but haven’t had an opportunity to test this out yet.

  3. Hi Erinna,

    From your experience baking in Austria which flour is best for baking cookies? I’m from New Zealand and it’s very confusing the system over here also it seems you can not get soft brown sugar on raw brown sugar.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Matt,
      Same dilemma.. I get confused with the flour type too, I’ve been using AP flour for cookies. For the sugar though I just use Roh for cookies or a mix of white if you want chewy cookies…but if you want to use brown sugar I buy it from the Asian stores.
      I’m still figuring out what is the equivalent for bread flour, I bought type 700 and just read this article so I guess I still bought AP flour? 😂 Thanks for the info Erinna, will certainly double check next time. I really want to make those fluffy Japanese milk bread.

      1. I use something around 1600/1800 for bread but that’s because I don’t make white bread but stronger Irish soda breads and so on. I don’t know for sure but for something that sounds as light as Japanese milk bread, AP might work… let me know!

    2. Hi Matt, I think Type W480 is probably the best flour for cookies but W700 will work just as well. The problem is sometimes the flour is just labelled as “universal”/”glatt”/”griffig” and it’s hard to see the 480/700 marking! So you end up picking up the wrong one… 🙂 I agree with the brown sugar comment, it is hard to hunt soft brown sugar down but try health food stores or some of the bigger supermarkets. Hope they turn out tasty!

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