German flours are sold by “Type” (Mehltyp in German) with a corresponding number which indicates the amount of ash (measured in milligrams) obtained from 100 grams of the flour. Here’s the closest American equivalent to the most common German types of wheat flour.
|~0.4%||~9%||pastry flour||405||40||fine pastries and cakes|
|~0.55%||~11%||all-purpose flour||550||55||quick breads, biscuits, croissants, cookies, & muffins|
|~0.8%||~14%||high gluten flour||812||80||breads (and sometimes pizza)|
|~1%||~15%||“first clear” flour||1050||110||light grayish looking bread; bagels?|
|>1.5%||~13%||white whole wheat||1600||150|
|?||?||whole wheat||1700||?||dense whole wheat bread|
I’m not sure where whole wheat pastry flour would fall. I think it has a protein content similar to pastry flour (around 9%), but ash content similar to whole wheat flour (~1.5%).
A caveat: Despite the equivalencies suggested by this table, European flours are not directly comparable with North American flours. There are a number of reasons for this.
First, different varieties of wheat are grown in Europe and the States. For example, American high gluten flour is milled from dark (red) Northern spring wheat, which is not available in Europe. Even when the variety of wheat is the same, when it is grown in different soils and climates, it may end up with slightly different protein levels and distributions.
Also, the protein and ash content numbers listed on U.S. flour are not comparable to the ash content numbers on European flours. In the States protein and ash content are measured at a 14% moisture level. In Europe the measures are done on dry matter.
Even when the protein contents are actually the same, the amount of gluten may be quite different. Wheat flour contains a number of proteins such as albumin, globulin, glutenin, and gliadin. Only the last two, which combine to form gluten, are of interest to the baker. Even when the amount of gluten is the same, the proportion of glutenin to gliadin may differ ( for example, between spring and winter wheats). Consequently, the “protein content” of a flour does not tell you very much. In general, the character of the gluten is quite different in a European flour, not nearly as elastic as the kind you find in American flour. Though Type 550 flours routinely list a protein content of around 11.5 percent, they perform more like a medium-protein American flour, around 9.5 percent. That puts them on par with American all-purpose flours.
Finally, the milling process is quite different. In Europe flours are typically “straight”. A straight flour is what you get when you grind a wheat berry, remove most of the brand and germ and a) don’t sift it into lots of different grades and b) don’t mix it together with other grades from other batches (as American millers usually do). The result is a flour that’s coarser than a normal American bread or all-purpose flour.
So when you get right down to it, there’s not much about American and European flours that are the same, other than the fact that they’re all flours. They’re different types of wheat grown in different places, under different conditions, then processed differently and milled differently. The end result is that they behave differently from one another in the same types of applications. Thus, there are no perfect substitutes between the European and American types of flour. However, you can get close. I’ve listed the closest substitutes in the table above.
Classification used in the USA (from wikipedia)
- Hard Red Spring — Hard, brownish, high protein wheat used for bread and hard baked goods. Bread Flour and high gluten flours are commonly made from hard red spring wheat.
- Hard Red Winter — Hard, brownish, mellow high protein wheat used for bread, hard baked goods and as an adjunct in other flours to increase protein in pastry flour for pie crusts. Some brands of unbleached all-purpose flours are commonly made from hard red winter wheat alone.
- Soft Red Winter — Soft, low protein wheat used for cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, and muffins. Cake flour and pastry flour are made from soft red winter wheat.
- Hard White — Hard, light colored, opaque, chalky, medium protein wheat planted in dry, temperate areas. Used for bread and brewing.
- Soft White — Soft, light colored, very low protein wheat grown in temperate moist areas. Used for pie crusts and pastry. Pastry flour, for example, is sometimes made from soft white winter wheat.
Red wheats may need bleaching, therefore white wheats usually command higher prices than red wheats on the commodities market.
- Type 815 – for small pastries – ground very fine (White Rye Flour)
- Type – 997 – or 1150 – for light rye bread – ground fine (White Rye Flour)
- Type – 1150 – for regular rye bread – it is little darker then 997, but also ground finely – and is called Graubrot (gray bread) (Medium Rye Flour)
- Type – 1370 – dark rye bread, also used for mixed breads (wheat and rye) is ground even finer (Medium Rye Flour)
- Type – 1800 – whole grain rye used for basic for all full grain breads (Pumpernickel)