Tuesday, May 15, 2012

MY PANTRY - FLOUR TYPE "TRANSLATION"

My baking station - Ikea's toy containers are great for storing flours, too!
Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

































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                               -                 -               -                -                  -                       6-8
pastry                           405             40            00            480               soft                   8-9
all-purpose                   550             55             0             700              plain*)             10-12
bread                            550             55          1, 2                               strong               12 (+)
      -                              812**)       80
white whole wheat        -                -                -                -                    -                      13 
high gluten                    -                -                -                -                   -                       14
      -                            1050           110                          1600                                                          
high extraction              -                 -                                -                                           16
first clear                       -                 -              -                 -                   -                       16
clear                                                                                                                                       
whole wheat               1700 (Vollkornweizen)

*) 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.)

Dutch flour type equivalents, see here.

Substitutes (approximately)
High extraction flour:                 41% bread flour + 59% whole wheat flour
German Typ 1050:                      80% bread flour + 20% whole wheat.


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, but can also be substituted with the lighter Roggenmehl Typ 1150).

US                                             Germany
white rye                                    Typ 997
medium rye                         Typ 1150 or 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                                      

14 comments:

  1. just love your baking station. you gave nice info about flours.

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    1. Thank you!
      The kitchen is basically our living room, and I like to have a nice environment when I bake.

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  2. Hi Karin, I think "white rye" is the equivalent to the German "Roggen Type 997".

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    1. Lutz, I'm sure you are right. In Germany I only looked what flours they had in the supermarkets. Did you ever bake with it? I found it rather bland.

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  3. I have heard of German flour, with numbers, but have not seen any of it here. Probably I would have to go to special shops for these, but, like you, I am totally confused! Even reading about the flours are very confusing sometimes! Thank you for sharing the info on flours!

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    1. If you know which American flours you can use instead, you really don't have to try to find special German flours. Your bread might taste a little bit different, but not significantly.
      The only specialty flours you might need for some of the German recipes are (soft wheat) pastry flour (instead of German type 405 or Italian 00) for some typical rolls, and medium rye (German type 1150 and 1370).
      In both of my blogs I will always "translate" the flours from American types to German ones and vice versa.

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  4. Thank you for this info. Like you, it has been a learning curve for me, to translate recipes from 'across the pond'. My German mother-in-law still craves good brötchen after being here over 50 years, and nothing seems to fit. With my interest mostly in wild yeast and whole grains, she is not likely to get much help from me, but if you can succeed in making a decent German bun with what we have available here to work with, I'll be watching with fascination. Mach's gut!

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  5. Cellarguy, you might check out my earlier post on Brötchen:
    http://hanseata.blogspot.com/2010/06/weizenbroetchen-german-rolls.html
    You might make your mother-in-law very happy with these - they are the real thing. I added an overnight fermentation to make them taste even better.
    In the post is a link to BreadLab's very nice video clip on how to make them, too.
    I usually prefer sourdoughs and whole grain breads, too, but now and then I need just some crackly, crusty Brötchen or other white breads.
    Mach's auch gut!

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  6. Vielen Dank fuer deinen blog! Finally an explanation why my bread comes close but just does not seem right :)

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  7. Yes, it took me quite a while to figure this out, I'm glad I could help you with this. What kind of bread are you baking?

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  8. Thank you for your wonderful blog! I'm in North Carolina and people here do not know what good bread (or baked goods, in general) are. My husband is from Hagen and my quest for satisfying his desire for true German breads is a passionate one. Your flour translation is excellent information. Incidentally, I made your popovers this morning (using King Arthur AP) and they were a hit! Your brotchen is next! Now...to get that rye flour....

    Danke!!

    Karen

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    1. Thank you, Karen, I'm very happy to hear that.
      It's so frustrating to try a recipe, thinking you did everything right, and then it doesn't turn out right, and you have no idea, why.
      Good luck with the brötchen, and, please, let me know how you like them!
      Happy Baking,
      Karin

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  9. What a marvelous set up - did you create the baking station? Where did you get the furniture piece? THanks!

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    1. Thanks, Sara! Yes, this is in my home kitchen, and I like things to be functional AND look nice. The furniture - work station and shelves are from Ikea, so are the flour bins - originally meant for storing toys. This works very well for me.

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