(Hier geht’s zur deutschen Version dieses Posts)

When I moved to 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 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 albino winter wheat.)

I started wondering about different flour types only after I tried to bake “Brötchen” – German everyday rolls. Thanks to Peter Reinhart’s “Bread Baker’s Apprentice” I already knew the merits of slow fermentation, and that steam was needed to create a good crust.

German Everyday Rolls

But, though my German Brötchen were not bad, something, somehow, was not right. The crumb was totally different from what I was used to in Germany. Not loose and fluffy that you could easily pull it out, but chewier, with larger pores, more like French bread.

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-glutenism!

For a fluffy crumb you need the right kind of flour

In The Fresh Loaf 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 baguettes I had raved about on the phone. I went to her supermarket’s baking aisle, and – found myself as clueless as before in Maine!

Never having baked any breads in Germany (only cakes and Christmas cookies), I could only imagine that the German all-purpose flour, Weizenmehl Type 405, probably wouldn’t be the right thing. I knew Vollkornweizen (whole wheat). But all those other flour types – Type 550, 1050, 1700 – what about them?

I had not the slightest idea, and the descriptions on the packages didn’t much to enlighten me, either. The type numbers refer to ash content, not protein. If you incinerate your flour – this is what you would be left with (along with a barking dog, crazed by the smoke alarm.)

After serious consideration I decided on Type 1050 – it had to have more gluten than softie flour 405, but surely less than the highest numbered flour, Type 1700, whole wheat. I didn’t realize that a medium type, like 1050, would just be sifted, with some of the bran removed, and a bit lighter.

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 my friend Ingrid was happy.

With wheat type 1050 my rustic baguettes were more rustic than planned

WHEAT – Approximate Equivalents between US and European flours

US FlourDFIAT% Protein
Bread 55055, 65
(see below*)
81265, 80
(see below**)
Whole Wheat 1600
White Whole13
First Clear
Graham Flour/
Wheat Meal
Unfortunately, I can’t format the table for perfect reading on a cellphone

*) Substitute: 77% Bread Flour + 23% Whole Wheat

**) Substitute: 57% Bread Flour + 43% Whole Wheat

In Austria there is also another differentiation: the “Griffigkeit” of the flour – how the flour particles feel like when you rub them between your fingers: griffiges Mehl (Dunst and Feingriess) is coarser than flour, but finer than semolina. 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.

Spelt Flour and White Whole Wheat, and albino variety that has no European equivalent

SPELT – US-Equivalents of German and Austrian Flours

White Spelt Type 630Type 630
(High Extraction)
57% White Spelt
+ 43% Whole Spelt
Type 1050Type 1050
Whole Spelt Type 1600/

France and Italy don’t have sifted, lighter, spelt flour types.

Whole spelt you may find in supermarkets with very good selection or in natural food stores. White spelt you can to mail order from specialty stores. In Germany both are more readily available, also high-extraction spelt (no equivalent in the US, but you can substitute a mixture, see above).

RYE – US-Equivalents of German, French and Austrian Flours

White Rye Type 81570R/500
82% White Rye
+ 18% Whole Rye
Type 997heller
66% White Rye
+ 34% Whole Rye
Type 1150130R/960
Medium RyeType 1370
Whole RyeType 1800
Rye Meal
Cracked Rye
Rye Chops

Most American supermarkets carry only whole rye flour – if they offer it at all. White rye and medium rye can be ordered from online baking stores (like King Arthur Flour or New York Bakers here in the Northeast). For the lighter medium rye types you can substitute a mixture (see above).

Medium ground rye meal aka pumpernickel flour is sometimes available in natural food stores and can be mail-ordered. For coarser rye chops/cracked rye there is only DIY (if you own a grain mill.)

American and German medium rye flours

Ancient grains, like Einkorn, Emmer and Kamut, recently made a comeback in the US. In my new home state Maine a real grain renaissance has happened, vigorously supported by the Maine Grain Alliance and their annual Kneading Conference.

This post – originally published in 2012 – has been updated, completely re-written. and the tables formatted for better visibility.


      1. This is his best. And I love all the stories of the heritage wheat’s in Italy and great German breads also.
        Hey, he’ll eat them right? haha My brother in law says there are never too many books…only too few bookshelves! I concur.


  1. Hi Karin, What a thorough description for anyone trying to bake an equivalent to something they were familiar with in Germany and Austria. Because of restricted travels, this is the first time in years that we won’t be traveling to both countries this fall. Your top photo brings back fond memories of the rolls I would enjoy each morning with some delicious cheese during our time spent there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Karin! I know you’re from Germany, but I just moved here to France and maybe you might know the answer. I’m trying to make pie dough (for thanksgiving, of course, lol) and I can’t get it how I’m used to in the US. I know European butter is partly to blame, too much butter fat,but there’s nothing I can do about that one since there is no US style butter here, lol, but I think I have a solution for that (freezing the hell out of the butter, haha). But I also think the flour is the problem too. I just got my starter ready to do California sourdough (yes, I know it won’t be the same because the natural yeast in France is different than in California), but I found that the flour to water ratio (I use grams) that I normally use with my starter and dough is way too wet with French flour than with US flour. I’ve been using type 65 and type 150 for my sourdough starter and dough, and was using type 55 for my pie dough (because I was told it’s the same as all purpose in the US) but was told by someone else that type 45 might be better for pie dough, so I’m gonna try that next. Lets just say in general, the French flour doesn’t absorb liquids the same as US flour (need less liquid for French flour compared to US flour), and French flour, even type 55, feels a lot more grainy than US flour, like it’s not as finely ground as US flour.


    1. Yes, American flour does absorb more water. Unfortunately, it’s always a bit trial and error to figure out what works best. For pastry I would rather try using type 45. I can’t really say that I had difficulties with the butter, when I was baking an American recipe in Germany. I notice the difference mainly when I bake croissants here – then I try to find European butter with higher fat content.


  3. In the US, I always used all-purpose for bread, cookies, pasta. In Germany, the first time I made pasta for my pasta fagioli soup, the pasta was awful (I think I used 550); cornbread turned out damp and cakey. What to do?! My crude experimentation lead me to settle on a 1:1 mix of 550:1050.

    Now, my daughter is in Italy and she wants to make cinnamon rolls with her grandma. Should I recommend a 1:1 mix of 1 and 2, or 0 and 2?

    Your thoughts?


    1. Hi, Rebecca, it’s really frustrating when your trusted recipes do not work anymore in a foreign country. In German homemade pasta recipe they use Italian 00 flour, Hartweizengriess (Semola rimacinata di grano duro) or, sometimes, Weizenmehl Typ 405. So, basically, you have to look for soft Italian flours.
      For cakes it’s almost always Typ 405 (or Vollkornweizen for healthier versions). Typ 550 or 1050 has more protein/gluten and is used for breads.
      I bake sometimes rolls from an Italian baking book, the flour is either Tipo 0 or Tipo 1 (or even Tipo 00 for very fluffy rolls).
      I would probably try Tipo 1.
      Baking American pastry with European flours you have to know that the water/liquid absorption might be different. Start with a little less liquid and add more as needed for the desired consistency. That might have been the reason why your cornbread turned out too damp.
      Good luck, and let me know how it turns out.


  4. Hi, thanks so much for this table. I had readers in the US saying that my Germany Rye Bread recipe did not work for them. Only when I looked into it, I see what a difference the flour makes and I was using German Rye 1150. I will ask the reader to use your substitution suggestions until I can get my hands on some American flour to properly test the recipe with it.


  5. I was looking for answers and I sure found them! Thank you so very much for the wonderful comparison charts! In my average baking I roll rather well but then Dunst came up and finger fine flour, where do I find that? Search and there was your page listed, Thank you!!!


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