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                               –                 –               –             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
grano tenero

*) 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.

Substitutes (approximately)
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


US                                               Germany
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.


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).

US                                                    Germany
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


  1. 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!


  2. 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.


  3. 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!


  4. Cellarguy, you might check out my earlier post on Brötchen:
    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!


  5. 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….




  6. 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,


  7. 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.


  8. Great information for us transplants. I always got so disappointed when I would make a recipe, I've done many times in Germany and it never would come out as nice. Not that my American family ever noticed, they think all Germans are baking gods…lol. But I knew.
    I noticed there is a bit of a jumble with the flour chart numbers above, toward the end of the chart, making me a bit confused about what goes where. It's just the last 3 lines. Is the 'farina integrale' and 'di grano tenero the same flour. Maybe that could be edited? I saved the info in a note and pushed the numbers around but still not sure where the 'di grano tenero' goes to. I might have shuffled it all wrong anyway
    Anyway, thank you, I am more enlightened about what flours to use


  9. I know what you mean, you notice something is off, but have no idea what it may – I had no idea that flours were so different.
    The flour you mention: “farina integrale di grano tenero” is the (very long) Italian term for whole wheat flour.
    Unfortunately I can't (or don't know how to) put in a really professional looking table, more so, since the preview always looks a bit different regarding spaces.
    Happy Baking,


  10. Thanks for clarifying the name for the Italien wholewheat, it's a very long name indeed…lol…and everybody says we Germans have to long of names for things.
    To the chart maybe if you turn it into a pdf first. I had issues with making a gardening chart like this once but once it was a pdf it turned out fine. I did some baking yesterday, making some Buttermilk wild yeast rolls and your information greatly helped, they came out so much better. The recipe I made from a German site calls also for Manitoba flour, does anybody now what that is? It said it's Canadian flour better for bread so I used American bread flour but still not sure if that's the right flour


  11. Yes, it is. The German Typ 550 is more like an American AP-flour at the high end of the gluten spectrum. Obviously you can get bread flour from Manitoba in Europe, so Manitoba flour is the usual term for American bread flour with more gluten than Typ 550.
    I buy my organic flours in 50 lb bags, and, depending on what my distributor has available, sometimes the bread flour comes from Manitoba, and sometimes it doesn't – I never saw any difference in its performance.


  12. Roggenmehl 1150 is a medium rye flour, very often used in German rye breads. If you don't have a sourdough starter (then I have other recipes) you might try my Malt Rye Rolls ( They taste very good, and the stretch-and-fold method is not difficult (you don't even need a mixer, if you don't have one), just follow the description.)
    The malted barley flour can be substituted with molasses (use a third less, since it's sweeter and stronger in taste).
    Good luck,


  13. Thanks so much for this! I bought a book on no-knead bread baking on my last trip to Germany and am now trying to figure out which American flours I can use to make the recipes. Your post answered most of my questions, but I was wondering what you think I could use for the recipes that call for “Roggenschrot (mittelfein gemahlen)”. Thanks in advance!


  14. I'm glad that you find my “translation” useful, Madeline. For medium ground rye meal you have two options. You can order it online: NY Bakers has the right grind (King Arthur, Bob's Red Mill or Honeyville, my other go to flour suppliers, don't):
    Or you invest in a grain mill (I recommend Mockmill), if you intend to bake with freshly milled flour, or coarser grinds.
    Unfortunately, rye kernels are too hard to grind in a food processor or coffee mill.
    Good luck, and happy baking!


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