Archive | March, 2011

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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I passed!

23 Mar

No sad blog post today! The exam was a success! All the long nights of studying and days of attending German classes paid off. It was fantastic! So fantastic that I can hardly believe it.

On the day, Mr. Cupcake was all nerves and jitters, meanwhile I was as cool as a cupcake cucumber. I was ready. I felt ready for the exam and for the outcome. I was done agonizing over uninspiring Konditor* books and just needed an answer. There was so little information and guidance given leading up to the exam, that I was just purely curious as to what was even going to happen. I was so very tired of guessing, second-guessing and most of all studying on the Strassenbahn (tram), at my desk, in bed and even in my sleep. (Yes, I listened to recordings of my study materials being read aloud in German by Mr. Cupcake’s mom as I slept!) I even had a mantra. Yes, a mantra. I went to town on this exam prep! Even hit up crazy town.

The exam had two parts. An extremely difficult written theoretical part which I had studied for four months and a practical exam which included baking cupcakes. I had rehearsed my baking procedure for the four weeks leading up to the exam. I had the procedure down to a tee and made sure to follow all the hygiene rules.

During the exam there were a few hiccups i.e. plugging in the mixer AFTER I had turned it on (luckily the speed wasn’t too high) and bringing glass bowls into the kitchen. Who knew? But glass is nicht erlaubt (not allowed) in a kitchen in case of breakage and shards of glass traveling into the food. Nur (only) Plastik from now on! Oder (or) steel/metal.

Here are the winning cupcakes. Raspberry Vanilla, Apple-Zucchini and Belgian Chocolate.

Here is a smokin’ hot picture of me after I passed my exam. Check out the hat. I am a part of the Handwerkskammer now. I am a true ‘Handwerker’. Cause I work with my hands. Love my cupcake-makin’ hands.

The day was a bit of a family affair with Mr. Cupcake driving me and Mr. Cupcake’s parents picking me up. I felt a bit like a 16-year-old with no license but it was all in the name of support and not having me stress about driving. I was washing the dishes and bowls when Mr. Cupcake’s parents came to pick me up. When Mr. Cupcake’s mom heard the news she rushed into my arms and gave me the biggest hug. Mr. Cupcake’s dad had the hugest grin on his face for about ten minutes as I explained how it all went. It was really a loving family moment.

Unfortunately es gibt noch eine Prüfung. (There is still one more exam.) The economics, hiring regulations and accounting exam. So back to the books but I promise not to stay away so long this time.:) I promise to get back to my blog and live happily ever after baking and selling cupcakes in Frankfurt.

*a Konditor is the German name given to a person who bakes professionally

The Cat is Out of the Bag

3 Mar

I have been keeping my distance a little lately. It’s time to let you know why. So when I first started writing this blog I wanted to just keep a running record of my cupcake journey, keep things real and really be able to reflect on my cupcake business as it got up and running.

Then I realized that people actually read my blog.

Which in fact is cool, but by the same token it’s easy to get wrapped up in how many hits your blog got in a day, how many comments got posted and how many blog posts you’ve posted in comparison to other blogs. Then, if you’re like me, after talking to your boyfriend and other people you begin to think that it’s not really ‘safe’ to post so much information and that ‘anyone’ has access to your information so you start censoring what you write and what you don’t write and then you’re blog becomes stupidly superficial and lame.

So it’s time to get real. I have been a bit MIA for two reasons:

The first: thinking about what seemingly creative blog posts I could post that would cut it as fodder for my blog.

The second:

a) I am actually preparing for an extremely important cupcake exam and I am too scared to blog about it just in the (quite possible) event that I fail and I have to write a shameful blog post about it when people ask how to big day went.

b) Most of my creative writing abilities have been sucked away by anxious thoughts leading up to the exam date.

The exam is unfortunately in German so I am trying to get my shit together in German which is seriously damn hard. In addition, I have been practising my baking as more of an efficient system rather than as my favourite artform, hence the suckiness of my blog. I have tons of positive energy and real support from my ever-faithful Trusty Apprentice and Mr. Cupcake’s family, helping me to rehearse my material so I can get a grip. I’m nervous as hell, but gonna give it my best shot as the exam date looms close.

In the spirit of sending out some positive vibes into the universe, here are some cupcakes I made for a friend’s birthday. He likes the classic Smiley and works at Deutsche Bank, hence the blue and white logo. Thanks Alma for all your help with the ridiculous number of fondant Deutsche Bank logos.

Now you know it all.