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:
|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|
|1200||Light “strong”/”bread” flour|
|Farina integrale di grano tenero||150/160||1600/1700||W1600||“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?