The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French Flour conversions to American Flour

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saraugie's picture

French Flour conversions to American Flour

Wanting to copy Shiao-Ping's latest gorgeous, yummy looking bread T110 Miche, I see that the flour she used is T110.  I searched the web and came up with this chart from another food website.  I cannot understand the science of flour IE: ash content, water absorption rates etc and just need know what the American equivalents are.  I wonder if you who know could tell if these comparisons are correct ?

AMERICAN: Cake & Pastry

AMERICAN: All-Purpose & Bread

AMERICAN: High Gluten

AMERICAN: Light Whole Wheat

AMERICAN: Whole Wheat

AMERICAN: Dark Whole Wheat

Crider's picture

to type 80, 110, and 150. All we have in North America is whole wheat and stone-ground whole wheat. And both of those are 100% whole wheat. King Arthur sells a 'first-clear' flour which appears to be a bolted whole wheat flour -- the larger pieces of bran are sifted out.

Shiao Ping bought her French flour through mail order from France as I recall.

GeekyGuy's picture

I've read in Crust and Crumb that a good U.S. approximation of French #55 is 50% AP and 50% BF.

misterrios's picture

Sorry, but European flours are not that simple. I've been seriously baking with them for about a good year, and I am thankful to have them. The numbers correspond to how much ash is in the bread. So the German numbers are how many milligrams per 100g. The ash, as I recall, comes from the minerals that are mostly in the bran and germ.

So basically, 1600 is whole wheat, and 1050 has less bran and germ, is lighter in color than WW, 812 has even less, and so on, until 405, which basically has the least amount of ash/minerals and is the whitest.

Think of it as 405 as pastry flour, and 1600 as whole wheat, and all the numbers inbetween are basically "inbetween flours" going up a scale of bran content.

Unfortunately, protein content varies a lot within the flours, which is funny because flours in North America tend to be judged mostly by protein. 812 does not necessarily have a higher gluten count, so I would not definitively say it is a high-gluten flour.

saraugie's picture

That not only is there the protein, ash and mineral content to consider but the flour strands, the milling processes, tools and machines.  All different then what the US has and does.

So one can hope to come close buying USA flour to equal, to duplicate is impossible.

misterrios's picture

This might be a little unorthodox to some, but I've read that mixing a portion of Whole Wheat in with All-purpose or Bread flour will give you an approximation of some of the darker flours. Though you can't duplicate, you can work with what you have to get to where you want. But unless you have a farm that will custom-grow, and a mill that will custom-grind, you can't duplicate.

This is one of the reasons I had to relearn how to bake bread when I got to Germany. The different flours have different properties, and though I'm used to them now, the flour was the reason I didn't really bake the first few years I was here.

It's so weird how these things develop. Follows the same thing with power plugs and voltage differences, somehow history followed different paths for similar goals.

Totally recommended reading: H.E. Jacobs talks some about the differences in milling in "Six Thousand Years of Bread". I wholly recommend the book, since some of the things he talks about that take place in recent history (last 500 years) keep popping up any time I hear or read about general history- the Pilgrims bringing wheat that they couldn't plant, potato blights and hunger, even a good explanation of why Europe loves rye.

MmeZeeZee's picture

I've presently got two flours, Vollkorn Weizenmehl (which is literally translated as whole wheat) and Weizenmehl 1050.  Both of these are from an old-fashioned water mill here in Rheinland-Pfalz.  They cook deliciously and both are much, much finer than any flour I've ever had in the States, except perhaps pastry flour.

So does anyone have any idea how I might go about substituting these two flours for flours in the American recipe books?  My German is basic so forget German recipes, and I'm not trusting Google Translate with my bread.

I'd love to hear from you.  So far, I've used the 1050 for the bread flour and vollkorn for whole wheat in Hamelman's rustic bread recipe as posted here, and they seem to have worked very well.  But perhaps I could do better?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

You keep me smiling with your untrust in Google translator.  I couldn't agree more! 

I know that on many of the flour packages in Austria, there is a guide that discribes the uses of the flour - for which types of bakery it is best used.  Is that also in Germany?

I have been using the 700 to 960 flours for bread flour.  I also enjoy the "10 korn" flours.  More when I get back to Austria.  I have a mixture of cookbooks in several languages.  I also bake in different countries so I tend to start with what is most available and tend to bake and cook with it and start from there. The lower numbers are amazing flours as well.  I am amazed by the "Griffig" or coarse flours and how flexible they are.



misterrios's picture

Austrian Numbers are different from German Numbers. While German numbers correlate directly to ash content, Austrian numbers don't. At least not in the way German/French numbers do.

Mini- W700 correlates to German Weizenmehl 550, which is While R960 refers to a light (but not white) rye, roughly Type 997.

MmeZeeZee- I normally use Type 550 as all-purpose, and Type 812 (which is rare in supermarkets) as "Bread" flour. I rarely use 405, which is basically the whitest flour you can get. However, since I don't really like white breads all that much, I tend to use 812 as all-purpose, and 1050 as bread flour. 1050 has actually become my go-to bread flour because of its flavor and its extensibility. For enriched breads, I tend to go with 812.

The thing to keep in mind is that you can use most flour in most bread, but you will have to eventually adjust the hydration to get the dough to feel just right. For any breads which are traditionally light in color like Baguettes or Italian Bread, it's probably better to get some 550.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven