Things you wouldn’t know… about baking

Baking has been a very frustrating undertaking here in the US for me. You might be wondering, how so?

The thing is that cakes and muffins never turned out to be quite right. The taste usually was a-okay, but the texture was completely off. A marble cake, which is supposed to be spongy and dry, always turned out sticky and very dense.

I blamed it on the gas oven, the different variety of ingredients that are available here, even on a lost ability to create decent baked goods. And all of these things might have played a minor role in my not getting the results that I wanted.
But, never in a million years would I have thought that the flour, more specifically the kind of flour I was using, was the real culprit.

You see, in Germany the standard flour available is wheat flour, type 405.
So, obviously, one would assume that the very common all-purpose wheat flour here would be the same type of flour as the type 405 in Germany, right?


This is where the whole problem started.

You need to know that German flours are categorized differently from American flours ( (I know, that’s why I blogged this as “things you wouldn’t know”, because who would think about something like that?).

German flours are sold by “Type” (Mehltyp in German) with a corresponding number which indicates the amount of ash (measured in milligrams) obtained from 100 grams of the flour (I don’t want to go into the details of it, you can read more about this on Wikipedia or this or this page if you are interested). But here’s a list of the closest American equivalents to the German types of wheat flour.

I had been using the all purpose flour for my baking the whole time and just recently found out that I actually should have used pastry flour all along, which, of course, is not necessarily easily available at any supermarket. Why would it be, right? Argh. However, I found pastry flour (and very similar cake flour, which is somewhere between pastry and all purpose flour) at the local Co-Op.

So today, I finally baked the perfect Lemon Poppyseed Muffins.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

85/365 Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

They were spongy inside and developed a decent “crisp” crust.
They turned out exactly the way I had anticipated. This truly opens up a completely new realm of baking possibilities for me. And more baking will ensue for sure this fall and winter!

Did you know about the different flour types?

  1. OMG! You just saved my life!!!! I hadn’t known that. In fact I tried your marble cake recipe a while ago but it didn’t turn out very well. It was very dense (like you said). I gotta check out the local stores now. Thanks!!!!
    .-= Stefanie blogged this: When all you need is a tiny change =-.

  2. Remindes me about South Africa. ;-)
    I had to search quite a while to find the things I wanted/ needed to bake and cook.
    Luckily I found a German Bakery and they sold some imported goodies like Milka, Ritter Sport, Backpulver, etc.,…
    .-= Steffi blogged this: Protected- Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days write a letter =-.

  3. I had no idea! That’s really interesting it can make that much of a difference. Happy baking from now on! :)
    .-= Emily Jane blogged this: Revenge of the Introverts =-.

  4. So glad you solved it! I had no idea there were more kinds of flour there- I’m glad you got this figured out, the results will be all kinds of tasty, I’m sure :)
    .-= Kyla Roma blogged this: We’ll call it a treat =-.

  5. I will never get baking, which is sad since I live with a man who is an excellent baker. Ha, I just try to stay out of his way and now mess up his cakes. (It’s been a near miss a lot of times!)

  6. I do know about the different types of flour. I was at a friend’s apartment once and we were hungry and he had no food so he baked some cookies. The only flour he had was whole wheat flour. I don’t really recommend that for cookies!

    It is interesting you posted this today because we had a flour mishap last night. My husband was filling the flour container with the rest of the giant bag of flour I bought last year and he found a flour bug so we had to throw it all out and I can’t bake until we get more next Tuesday (discount day at our grocery store). Now I kind of want to get 2 flour containers so I can try out the pastry flour.

    I am glad you solved your problem and are able to truly enjoy your baking now!
    .-= Impossibly Alice blogged this: Learning to Give Up- Just a Little =-.

  7. This is really interesting! I wonder whether it’s true for the UK as well – probably not, as my cakes usually turn out OK-ish (although not brilliant)
    .-= alicely blogged this: German goodies =-.

  8. Oh yes. I learned that back in 1988 when I lived in Berlin. I’ve always been a big baker and I had to learn which flour to buy to bake what I wanted. Lucky for me I found a friendly clerk who helped me out.
    .-= Maribeth blogged this: No Toys Today =-.

  9. Du bist ein Genie! Thank you!!!

  10. I’d definitely never heard of this. Who’d have thought?! Do you use the same amount of pastry flour as you would all-purpose? In other words, should I start using pastry flour?!
    .-= Suburban Sweetheart blogged this: Take Heed ‘Cause I’m a Lyrical Poet =-.

  11. i am sure there’s a million german expatriats in the US who will LOVE you for this! :)
    .-= kim blogged this: Love Your Shot LinkUp =-.

  12. I knew about it but wasn’t convinced it made such a difference. My cakes are only okay, too, but up to now I thought I’m just better at cooking than baking. I think I’ll give the pastry flour a whirl. Thanks, San!

  13. I thought that my problem could be the flour but I’d never tried to figuere it out….So thank you so much! Like Kim said – I’m one of probably a million germans out here who loves you for that!
    .-= Tanja blogged this: Mazatlan =-.

  14. Well, I’ll be darned! I had no idea. Those muffins do look great… I might need to start baking again soon.
    .-= Jen blogged this: Birthday Dinner =-.

  15. I had no idea but I am pretty sure I didn’t bake a single thing while I lived in the US. I’ll remember this one for if I ever have to bake with US flour.
    .-= Karen blogged this: Homes of my life =-.

  16. I knew different types of flour do different types of things, but I had no idea things would be labeled so differently and that things wouldn’t match up. And pastry flour? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that…
    .-= Terra blogged this: A wanderer some roots amp a place called Home. =-.

  17. Whoa, I never would have known that! The muffins look AMAZINGLY delicious! Mmm. I am now craving one (or two… or three!) lemon poppyseed muffins! Mmm.
    .-= Holly blogged this: A first class parlor suite ticket on to the Titanic cost 4-350- which translates into 90-000 in 2006 USD =-.

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