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:
|00||40||405||W480||UK’s pasta flour
America’s pastry flour
Low gluten content
|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
|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.