I like my baking and struggled at first with the confusing amount of flours in Austria. Breads failed to rise and cakes exploded. It turns out flour differs significantly between America, the UK and continental Europe. 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; pretty much equivalent with America all-purpose flour
  • 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: used for bread; bread flour in the US

In America, along with pastry flour, you also have cake flour. How lovely and simple 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. In general, the higher the number, the “stronger” that flour is. So use the lowest numbers for your pastries and the highest for heavy breads. The tricky part is some flours will be labelled the same, e.g. universalmehl, but have different numbers- always check the number is the secret.

Time for a table:

Italy France Germany AustriaDescription
0040405W480UK’s pasta flour

America’s pastry flour

Low gluten content

055550W700Plain flour

All-purpose flour

180812 Strong or bread flour

High gluten content

21101050 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 “strong”/”bread” flour
Farina integrale di grano tenero150/1601600/1700W1600  “Strong”/”bread” flour
The Italian is wholewheat!

Useful flour terms:

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

Important for all the tasty breads here, let’s explore wholewheat, rye and spelt flours:

  • Vorschussmehl 500: very light rye flour
  • Roggen(volkorn)mehl: (whole) rye flour or pumpernickel flour (Type R960 in Austria). Mix this with plain flour to make tasty Austrian-style breads
  • Roggenmehl 1150: medium to dark rye flour (Type R2500 in Austria)
  • Dinkelmehl 700: white spelt flour. Finely milled spelt flour often used instead of pastry flour. High gluten content
  • Dinkelvolkornmehl: whole spelt flour
  • Grieß (or Maisgrieß): made from maize, used to make polenta
  • Weizengrieß: wheat flour from Durum wheat, for semolina when coarse ground. Fine ground for pasta (thanks for comments!)
  • Dinkelgrieß: made from spelt

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 is and is available in apoteks/pharmacies.

Yeast is “hefe” (German German) or “germ” (Austrian German) which you can find easily in dry and solid cube form.

In honour of Easter, I’m going to attempt homemade hot cross buns this week!! What are you trying in your iso-baking?

23 Replies to “How to Bake 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?

          1. “Grieß” (“ie” = “[ee]”), not “Greiß” (ei).
            And “Vollkorn”, not “Volkorn”. 😉
            Also, don’t get caught saying “Hefe” in Austria :P, that’s the german version, while austrians use “Germ” (e.g. “Trockengerm” is instant yeast).

            “Dinkelgrieß” is used as a semi-substitute, like you would use whole-wheat flour to darken the result (and make it “healthier”). Personally, I’m not a fan of “Dinkelgrieß” because it makes dishes (e.g. “Grießfleckerln”) a lot drier.

          2. Just to help/elaborate, Stefanie’s comment was pointing out the ‘ie’ v ‘ei’ vowel order. It’s ‘ie’ 🙂

            ie is pronounced ee, so Grieß is pronounced like grease
            ei would be pronounced like ‘eye’

            Whether to use ‘ss’ or ‘ß’ is not important. Though ‘ss’ can always be used, ‘ß’ is not always normal, for example in Switzerland they don’t use it.

  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.


    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!

      1. Afaik bigger supermarkets like (Inter-/Euro-)Spar and Merkur sell brown sugar, maybe also try DM (kind of a drugstore but also sells healthy food stuff) – not sure about “cheaper” ones like Lidl or Hofer though.
        You could also look for “Kokosblütenzucker”, which is (brown) coconut-sugar.

  4. Had the same dilemma. Made focaccia with UNIVERSALtype 480 and was poor show.
    Today I spoke to pastry chef a a well renowned supermarket MERKUR and advised that type 700 would work for focaccia and the likes of breads with yeast.

    1. There’s no direct equivalent. “Griffig” means rough/coarse: it’s not as finely ground as “glatt”. “Doppelgriffiges” double so…

  5. Help me out here! Im stucked.. Im new in austria, whenever i wanna bake bread, they will advise me all flour can, (w400 & w700) but i wanna buy a real bread flour.. From where i was from, we buy bread flour, no special code or different tyle of categories… So if i wanna buy sourdough bread.. What flour should i use??

    1. As high a number as you can would be the short answer. They don’t have a flour called “bread” flour here, you just have to look at the pack for the number. Some packs also have a handy chart on the back indicating what the best use for that flour is (kekse, palatschinken, brot, knoedel…). I’d look for a 1600.

  6. Hi Erinna. I too had baking problems when first coming to Austria. If this is allowed its a really good no fail recipe.
    I used griffig 480 flour.

  7. I’m almost certain, that you find a lot of specialty ingredients like brown sugar, Kokosblütenzucker, Birkenzucker, Agavendicksaft etc in the Bio-supermarkets (“Denn’s” in Vienna). They really have a rich variety of articles.

  8. Hi everyone! There seems to be a lot of questions about brown sugar, i.e. muscovado, i.e. the molassesy one. If you go to a normal supermarket, you’re likely to only see “braun zucker” which is the raw sugar. If you use this in baking a good ol’ American style chocolate chip cookie for instance, you’re not gonna get that chewy-gooey mouthful, more likely a hockey puck.

    You can find brown sugar, i.e. the molassesy one, at stores like Prosi or the Exotic Green in Vienna, and they even have light and dark versions. I have even tried jaggery, which is basically the same thing but just not ground up. It’s nice for melty recipes, but not so much for baking. I usually also pick up a jar of molasses at one of these stores and when I run out of my stock of brown sugar I put about 1-2 tbs of molasses to 1 cup sugar and blend it up really well in my food processor and use that successfully as a baking replacement.

    Hope this helped! Love that someone else did all the research about the flours though, thanks! 😉

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