|My baking station - Ikea's toy containers are great for storing flours, too!|
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When I first started baking in Maine, I didn't think too much about differences between German and American flours.
All-purpose flour was, obviously, your Average Joe among flours. Bread flour was meant for breads. Duh! And whole wheat and rye flours? Stupid question! Exactly the same as German "Vollkornweizen" and "Roggenmehl".
But then I saw something called "Cake Flour" at Hannaford's. Hm.... a special flour for cake baking, why did you need that? Then there was "White Whole Wheat" - really, white? My chemical alert siren went off! Was it bleached and bromated like some of the flour brands in the baking aisle? (Don't worry, it's a special kind of winter wheat.)
I started wondering about different flour types only, after I had a yearning for German rolls, "Brötchen", and tried out several recipes. Meanwhile I had learned from Peter Reinhart's "Bread Baker's Apprentice" about the merits of slow fermentation, and that steam was needed to create a good crust.
My German Brötchen were not that bad, but something, somehow, wasn't right. The crumb was totally different from what I was used to in Germany. Not kind of loose and fluffy, so that you could easily pull it out, but chewier, with larger pores, more like French bread.
|Everyday Brötchen get the right fluffy crumb only with soft wheat flour|
After a while it dawned on me that US-wheat has much more protein than European wheat species . The flour contains significantly more gluten, so that the dough has a more stable structure, and breads rise higher. My German-American rolls were suffering from hyper-gluten-ism!
In The Fresh Loaf (a forum for hobby bakers) I read later that many Americans, interested in baking German Brötchen, were utterly puzzled by this problem.
During a visit in Germany, my friend Ingrid asked me to bake those great baguettes I had gushed about on the phone. I went to the supermarket's baking aisle, and - found myself as clueless as before in Maine!
Never having baked breads in Germany, only cakes, muffins and Christmas cookies. I could only imagine that the German all-purpose flour, Weizenmehl Typ 405, wouldn't be the right thing, and I knew Vollkornweizen (whole wheat). But all the other flour types - what about Typ 550, 1050, 1700?
I had not the slightest idea, and the text on the packages didn't much to enlighten me. The type numbers mean leftover ashes, not protein content, so, if you want to incinerate your flour - this is what you would be left with (along with a dog crazed by the smoke alarm.)
After serious consideration I decided on Typ 1050 - it had to have more gluten than softie flour 405, but the number was far enough from whole wheat flour Typ 1700.
So, what happened? My Pains a l'Ancienne turned out much healthier than planned - after all, they contained a good portion of bran. But even though they were flatter and darker than they should have been, they tasted very good. And that was the main thing.
|Rustic Baguettes - with German Typ 1050 they will be a bit too rustic|
WHEAT FLOUR TYPES (approximate equivalents between US and European flours)
US D F I AU*) GB % Protein
cake - - - glatt - 6-8
pastry 405 40 00 480 soft 8-9
all-purpose 550 55 0 700 plain**) 10-12
bread 550 55 1, 2 700 strong 12 (+)
- 812***) 80 1 700 11-13
white whole wheat****) - - - - - 13
high gluten - - - - - 14
- 1050 110 2 1600 13-14.5
high extraction 1050 (or mixture, see substitutes) 16
first clear - - - - - 16 whole wheat 1600 150 farina integrale di wholemeal 13
*) In Austria there is also another differentiation: the "Griffigkeit" of the flour: griffiges Mehl (Dunst and Feingriess) is coarser than flour, but finer than semolina. You can feel the coarser flour particles between your fingers when you rub it. Doppelgriffiges Mehl (= Dunst) is especially used for fine pastry, pasta and strudel. It has a high content of bran - I would substitute with whole wheat pastry flour or a mixture of pastry/whole wheat pastry. Glattes Mehl (smooth flour) is the equivalent of cake flour.
**) Store bought plain flour can strongly vary in quality, and cheap brands may have less than 10% protein.
***) Typ 812 is a mixture of 2 parts Typ 1050 + 1 part Typ 405, there is no US-equivalent. I would use bread flour and a little bit whole wheat (same as the substitute for Typ 1050.)
****) White whole wheat is an albino variety.
Dutch flour type equivalents, see here.
High extraction flour: 41% bread flour + 59% whole wheat
German Typ 812: 77% bread flour + 23 % whole wheat
German Typ 1050: 52% bread flour + 48% whole wheat
SPELT FLOUR TYPES
white spelt Dinkelmehl Typ 630
high extraction spelt Dinkelmehl Typ 1050
whole spelt Dinkel-Vollkornmehl
Whole spelt you may find in supermarkets with a very good selection or in natural food stores. White spelt you need to mail order from specialty stores. In Germany both are more readily available.
RYE FLOUR TYPES
Most US supermarkets carry only whole rye flour ("Vollkornroggenmehl"), and, sometimes, rye meal, aka pumpernickel, ("Feiner Roggenschrot").
Usually coarser grinds, like rye meal ("Feiner Roggenschrot"), or rye chops ("Grober Roggenschrot") can be only found at specialty flour stores, or some natural food shops.
White rye (a rather bland variety) and medium rye flour you can mail order (King Arthur Flour, NYBakers or Honeyville). Medium rye is very similar to Roggenmehl Typ 1370. It can be mixed with white rye to substitute the lighter Roggenmehl Typ 1150).
white rye Typ 997
(2/3 medium rye + 1/3 white rye) Typ 1150
medium rye Typ 1370
rye meal (pumpernickel) feiner Roggenschrot
rye chops (cracked rye) grober Roggenschrot
|Side by side - American medium rye and its German cousin Typ 1150|
For more information, also about Dutch flour types, check out the Weekend Bakery blog