Flour in Germany, Type 405. What the hell?

30 Mar

So you walk into a German grocery store and you’re thinking, I’m gonna bake me a sexy cake, just like the ones I had in Canada. You have the recipe in hand and you stride confidently into the baking goods aisle. And you are confronted with this!

You take a little hesitant step forward and you’re completely  dumbfounded!

Not only do they NOT have cake flour but all of the bags of flour have bizarre type numbers: Type 1150, Type 1050, Type 550, Type 405.

As I prepared for my exam and read through loads of Konditor books, I found the answer! It’s completeley lame and I’m sure you will fall asleep half-way through, but at least the answer will be at the grasp of all expats, just a google search away and they won’t be left to wonder, standing in the ‘Mehl’ (flour) aisle looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

What does the Mehltype (flour type) mean?
The flour type number represents how many grams of minerals there are in 100kg of (water-free) flour. It is described in Konditor books in the following way:  If you were to burn 100kg of Type 405 flour, you would have 405 grams of ash remains. Since minerals are the only component of flour which cannot be completely burned, your minerals would therefore be the ash remains. And if you burned 100kg of 550 Type Mehl, you would have 550 grams of ash remains/minerals and so on and so forth for the other types.

Things to know:

  • Essentially the higher the flour type number the more minerals you are have in your flour.
  • Flours with a high flour type (1150, 1050) will always be darker (more wholewheat) as they contain more of the husks from the grains and will always be higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Flours with a low flour type (405) will be whiter if not completely white, will contain a teeny portion of husks and will be poor in vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Type 405 is finest ground flour you will find in Germany. It has the highest starch content which makes it ideal for the baking of cupcakes and cakes where you want a finer crumb.

The most commonly used flour type in Konditoreis (confectionary and baked goods shops) in Germany (often cited in many of my books) is Type 550 which has a high protein content and as you will read, is mostly appropriate for breads. I would say that this is exactly the reason why Germany cakes are more like pound or coffee cakes with a denser crumb and a more compact texture.

Here is a little excerpt I found online that echoes this difference between 405 (starch-rich) and 550 (protein-rich) type flours a bit more:

“Flour contains starch. Different types of flour contain different amounts of starch. The starch content of the flour depends upon what type of wheat made that flour. Hard wheat contains high levels of protein, making its flour excellent for breads, while soft wheat contains high levels of starch, making better flour for cakes. Soft wheat makes cake flour, having a very high starch to gluten ratio, which bakes into a fine, crumbly cake texture. The interplay between protein, starch, sugars and other added ingredients helps determine the final texture and taste of the baked product.” Source

So now you have been introduced to the world of flour in Germany.

If you are still with me, as I was googling around about flour in Germany, I came across the Rosenmehl website. Rosenmehl is a flour brandname and as I looked at their website, I stumbled upon some recipes that they advertise alongside their flour selection. And low and behold, gosh darnit I think those Germans are comin’ around. To CUPCAKES.

On a final note: Cake flour. Nope, there is none to be found in Germany. Here is a fabulous post from i am baker that you can use to make your own. Corn starch in Germany. Check. All purpose flour. Check.

Here is a cupcake recipe I found. They’re German cupcakes so no promises, but have a little gander for yourself.

German’s version of Carrot Cupcakes

Now you didn’t think I’d leave cupcake picture-less did you? Here are some cupcakes that I made for friend of mine’s birthday.

Citrusy lemon, poppy seed cupcakes with blueberry buttercream.

Vanilla cupcakes filled with fresh full raspberries and topped with a swirl of vanilla buttercream.

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14 Responses to “Flour in Germany, Type 405. What the hell?”

  1. Kyra Dahlke March 31, 2011 at 00:41 #

    Holy Hanna, who knew. It all sounds very organized!

  2. Lora March 31, 2011 at 09:42 #

    Thanks for the thoroughly researched explanation of what most expats find to be flour confusion. Very helpful for home bakers struggling to adapt their kitchens to their favorite recipes.

  3. Grace April 23, 2011 at 00:01 #

    Hey from Munich!
    I have puzzled enough over the Ash concept of classifying flour. As my kids say, whyrum? I thought of this marketing slogan: “Makes cakes as light as Krustebraten!” How do I get paid?

    Anyhoo… on cake flour. Before I get to King Arthur Flour’s advice below, I’d like to edumacate. It is very difficult to grow anything but very soft wheat (low protein wheat) in England. There, a technique was developed to use this cheaper, lower quality wheat. The Chorleywood bread process, my dear German-living sisters, is what makes discount bakery bread possible. They shake the !@#$ out of the cheapest flour on earth. That’s how they do it.

    This has lead to my current theory on buying flour: buy the cheapest, off-label 405 out there. I can find no correlation between ash and protein, so I assume the best indicator of low protein is low price.

    Best!
    Grace

    ———
    The following is research passed on from my files. Sorry, but not all sources are still at hand. Enjoy the technicalities…

    +protein content cake flour 6-8%
    Protein content all purpose 8-11%

    +King Arthur Flour – a big company in the US that many bakers know and love and they gave the following information.

    Type 405 – .50 ash – Similar to American pastry flour

    Type 550 – .50-.58 ash – Similar to American all-purpose flour

    + You may have noticed from your baking experiences that German flour is just not the same as the flour in America! Flour varies greatly in its ability to absorb moisture, depending on the type of wheat from which it was milled and how it was processed and stored. German “Weizenmehl” is milled from soft, European wheats lower in protein and water absorption capacity than the hard wheats grown in North America. The all-purpose flour used for baking in America is generally a blend of hard and soft wheat flours and may be bleached or unbleached. Only unbleached flour is available in Germany, which has higher nutritional value. U.S. flours are also pre-sifted which means they are ground much finer than German flours, which are not pre-sifted.

    Types of flours:
    Type 405: the finest flour, for cakes and pastries
    Type 1050: for bread and yeast products
    Type 405S: (19% protein) high-protein flour for bread, pasta
    Type 1700: wholemeal or Weizenschrot, for whole wheat breads
    Instant flour: never use in baking, only for thickening gravies and sauces

    American self-rising flour is regularly milled flour to which leavening and salt have been added. It is not usually available in Germany.

    Why sift flour? Sifting flour incorporates air since flour has a tendency to settle in its package. All German recipes are based on weight, not volume. But Americans measure by volume (cups). Flour measured by cups may weigh 130g or more. When a recipe calls for 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour, 115 g is the specific weight. For greatest accuracy, weigh your flour when baking.

    Try these tips to improve the quality of your baked goods:

    Sift your flour 2-3 times before measuring.
    Decrease liquid slightly in recipe because the lower protein quantity of European wheat cannot absorb as much liquid.
    Increase oven temperature if cakes continue to turn out gooey.

    +Metric weights

    All-Purpose Flour:

    1 cup = 140 grams

    1 cup sifted = 115 grams

    Cake Flour:

    1 cup = 130 grams

    1 cup sifted = 100 grams

    Whole Wheat Flour:

    1 cup = 150 grams

    1 cup sifted = 130 grams

    Bread Flour:

    1 cup = 160 grams

    1 cup sifted = 130 grams

    +More from King Arthur Flour
    European flour equivalents

    German flours are catagorized by the amount of “ash” in the flour, not the amount of protein like American flours. This makes it hard to come up with an exact replacement.

    Here are some suggestions to try:

    Type 405 – .50 ash – Similar to American pastry flour

    Item #3331 Unbleached Pastry Flour (9.2% protein, .42 ash)
    Item #3338 Italian-Style Flour (8.5% protein, .40-.45 ash)
    Type 550 – .50-.58 ash – Similar to American all-purpose flour

    Item #3005 Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (11.7% protein, .49 ash)
    Item #3323 Select Artisan Organic All-Purpose Flour (11.3% protein, .54 ash)
    Type 812 – .64-.89 ash – Similar to American all-purpose flour, but higher ash

    Item #3334 French Style Flour (11.5% protein, .70 ash)
    Type 1050 – 1.05 ash – Similar to American “First Clear” flour

    Item #3337 First Clear Flour (14.8% protein, .80 ash)
    Type 1600 – 1.60 ash – The closest you could get to this would be a light-colored whole wheat flour.

    Item #3311 White Whole Wheat Flour (13% protein, 1.80 ash)
    American equivalents to German flours:

    German flour type numbers (Mehltype) indicate the amount of ash (measured in milligrams) obtained from 100 grams of the dry mass of this flour.
    Very White 404
    Medium White/Whole Wheat 1050
    Whole Wheat 1700
    Medium Rye 1150
    Slightly Darker 1370
    Dark Dark Dark 1800

    USA versus European Flour

    Every now and then, a customer asks what US flours are equivalent to flours they have used for baking in Europe. European flours are sold by “Type” with a corresponding number. Here is the listing; this is particularly appropriate for German flours and the flours of bordering countries. The flours in parenthesis represent the flours we offer that would best match the type listed:

    German/European Flour by Type Numbers

    Wheat Flour:

    Type 405 – is used for fine Pastries and Cakes – in Austria it is #480 (Unbleached Pastry Flour)
    Type 550 – is used for tender breads, biscuits, croissants, cookies, and muffins, etc. (King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour)
    Type 1050 – is used for light grayish looking bread – light wheat flour (White Whole Wheat Flour)
    Type 1700 – is for used for hardy bread – dark wheat flour (Traditional Whole Wheat Flour)
    Rye Flour:

    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)
    These are specific types in Germany and close bordering countries.

    Please contact us if we can be of further assistance.

    • Kathy October 15, 2012 at 02:17 #

      I’m a little late to the party, but thanks SO much for explaining all this, along with your tips. My partner is gluten intolerant (NOT Celiac). We heard rumours that European flours are different and that some people can eat European-flour baked goods. He was there for a couple of weeks and it turns out it is true. He’ll sleep for two days straight after accidentally eating flour here. There, it was cafe und kuchen every day.

      He brought back 10 kilos of 450 flour and I have had my hands full trying to figure out how to use it. You pastry mavens would laugh if you saw my sad “Pastry Bible” pie crust, with weighed flour and butter, made in a food processor. It’s been many years since I baked…so…it turned out so crumbly I wound up pressing it into place like a graham crust. It turned out beautifully nutty brown, lovely flavour, very crisp and shattery. Anyway…it was fine.

      I remembered the words of Bonnie Stern on a radio programme once on CBC radio: ANY homemade pie, no matter HOW it turns out is better than a store-bought pie. Yay German flour!

      BTW, this opens up an interesting can of worms: what is or is not in our North American flour that is found or is missing in Euro-flour? Because it AIN’T gluten…German flour has gluten too. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I suspect it’s some GMO issue, or the reduction of varieties to a few Monsanto versions of wheat grown in this part of the world. They don’t have those problems in Europe.

      And to blather a bit further: I found some Polish flour in our fabulous Starsky grocery store. Is this flour similar to German?

      It’s all a bit exciting!

      • dascupcake November 7, 2012 at 12:43 #

        he he he, Kathy. Exciting indeed! I think you may be on to something with the mystery additives in American flour..I have yet to research anything about American flour. My research only extends to the German flour, I’m afraid…

        Polish flour..hmm, I also have no idea…but if the stuff is actually produced in Europe…then I could say, that it would also be similar to that of German i.e. European flour…

  4. the perfect avocado December 30, 2011 at 21:27 #

    thank you a million times for this post. as a canadian living in croatia (with my pseudo german boyfriend who accidentally brought me a bag of #400 brašno (flour) instead of the #550 that i’ve determined to be ‘all purpose’) i can’t even begin to tell you how much i can relate. this helps clear up the mystery – will bookmark for reference.

    nice blog – gorgeous cupcakes. best!

  5. Jacqui January 5, 2012 at 12:56 #

    wow,this is a mouth full.Need to substitute an South African recipe to germany, this is a difficult task but your post helped a lot..He just has to stick to flour number 405 lol

  6. Jacqui January 5, 2012 at 12:58 #

    Wow I have to translate and find substitutes for an South African recipe and sent it of to Germany. This was helpful at least I can tell him to stick to flour number 405

  7. Lenitas July 5, 2012 at 08:24 #

    Well I’m German and this has always confused the hell out of me, so thank you !

  8. Lisa October 24, 2012 at 14:41 #

    I’ve been using 405 for when a recipe calls for cake flour. When a recipe calls for all purpose, I mix 405 and 550. Should I just use only 550 to replace all purpose?

    Thanks!

    • dascupcake November 7, 2012 at 12:40 #

      Hello Lisa, for all purpose, I ONLY use 405 and it works perfect for cookies and cupcakes…for Cake Flour I mix 405 with Speisestärke a.k.a. corn flour and follow the direction for mixing from this great post by Sweetopolita: http://sweetapolita.com/2012/01/bring-me-flours/

      I hope this helps!:)

  9. Lara December 16, 2012 at 05:31 #

    thanks so much for the explanation!!! I moved from Germany to Canada via France, and am totally confused by “all purpose flour”, “cake flour” etc here. So thanks for the explanation, it helps for the translation the other way round, too!

    — to answer the question why a lot of North American gluten intolerant people are fine around European wheat: apparently it has to do with big ag, but in a roundabout way, not additives. It appears that in North America, only one strain of wheat survives, after all others have been bought up. Whereas in Europe, not only do they grow soft wheat, they also grow lots of different strains (as in genetic variety) of wheat.

    And believe me, translating German and French recipes to Canadian flour is just as hard!!!

  10. Andrew March 6, 2013 at 14:48 #

    I cam here looking for info on flour. Lots here but I am still a little uncertain. I often make pizza dough and want to find the best flour. What I want is a high gluten flour. Am I right in thinking that 1050 would suit this purpose?

    Thanks

    • dascupcake April 8, 2013 at 11:34 #

      Yes, the higher the gluten, the better for the pizza dough! You are absolutely right!

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