In Europe flour is made largely from grains but also from legumes, nuts, roots and seeds.
Almond flour is used primarily in cakes and confections.
Amaranth flour is used as an improver in various doughs.
Barley flour is used to make pre-ferments and as an improver, malted, for rye and wheat doughs.
Buckwheat flour is used to make confections, pancakes and pasta.
Chestnut flour is used to make cakes and confections.
Chickpea flour is used to make confections.
Corn flour (polenta in the Balkans and Italy) is used various preparations.
Millet flour is used in various preparations and as an improver in wheat doughs.
Nut flour, with its high oil content, is generally used to sharpen the taste of cake, confection and pie crust preparations.
Oat flour is generally ground fresh from oat meal for use in confections.
Pea flour is used in various preparations.
Potato flour is used in bread, confections, dumplings, meatballs, soups and savoury preparations.
Rice flour is used in various preparations.
Rye flour is used to make bread and pastries.
Soy flour is used in various preparations.
Wheat (Triticum Aestivum) flour, hard and soft, is used in countless preparations, primarily in bread, cakes, confections, pastry and pasta. Durum Wheat (Triticum Durum) is used to produce pasta and semolina. Spelt Wheat (Triticum Spelta) is used largely to make dumplings and noodles, and gradually now to make bread, cakes and pastries. The origin wheat grains – Emmer Wheat (Triticum Dicoccum) and Einkorn Wheat (Triticum Monococcum) – and old heritage wheat grains are used to make artisan breads and confections.
France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and Turkey grade their flour according to the amount of ash, measured in milligrams, obtained from burning, the French with 10 grams of flour, the Germans and Swiss with 100 grams. This indicates the gluten content. Hard wheat flour is high (between 11% and 13%), soft wheat is low (between 9% and 11%).
This translates as:
- Dark flour (very high gluten), for wholemeal bread – for example, Swiss type 1900.
- White flour (high), for bread, French type 65, German type 812.
- White baking flour (medium), for bread and pastries, French 55.
- White all-purpose flour, cake and confection (low), for all purposes, French 45, German 405, Poland 450.
Type 700 White wheat flour. High gluten, used in bread doughs from kipfel to strudel.
In England and Wales bread and confectionary flours contain calcium, iron, niacin and thiamin.
Millers in Britain sell a variety of flours from locally grown grains, and some have adopted the Swiss habit of combining ingredients to produce mixes for specific breads and confections.
Malted flours play a huge role, for both the artisan and commercial baker, and one company, EDME in Essex, England, specialise in malted products that enhance flavour.
Flour produced from organically grown grains are prominent, especially among the artisanal millers, listed here at the Sourdough School. Marriage’s, in Essex, England, import strong white wheat flour from Canada. Shipton Mill, in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, specialise in organic flours. Stoates, in Cann Mills, Dorset, produce stoneground flours. At Lodge Farm, in Surrey, Mike Pinard grows and mills the old grains of England. In 2020 he sowed Benefactor, Chidham Red, Millers Choice, Old Kent Red, Orange Rough Chaff and Red Lammas.
Buckwheat Confections and pasta.
Type 45 Soft wheat white flour for pastry. Low gluten.
Type 55 Hard and soft wheat white flour for general use. Low gluten.
Type 65 Hard and soft wheat white flour for artisan use. High gluten.
Type 80 Hard organic whole wheat and white flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 110 Hard whole wheat and white flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 150 Hard whole wheat flour, bran and germ. High gluten.
Einkorn Origin wheat. Low gluten.
Emmer Origin wheat. Low gluten.
Type 405 Soft wheat white flour for pastry. Low gluten.
Type 550 Hard and soft wheat white flour for general use. Low gluten.
Type 630 White spelt flour. High gluten.
Type 812 Hard wheat white flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 1050 Hard wheat flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 1150 Rye flour. Low gluten.
Type 1600 Hard whole wheat and white flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 1700 Whole wheat flour, bran and germ. High gluten.
Poland has a strong tradition with rye and wheat flours. Millers produce the standard type flours and specialist flour mixes for cakes, dumplings, pancakes, pastries, pies, pizza and various bread dough preparations including multi-cereal flours and rye-wheat combinations. Flours made from organic / bio grains are available in the main flour types.
Szymanowska is among the most popular in Poland with rye and wheat flours milled in Szymanów and sold under the brand Polskie Młyny (Polish Mills). Polskie Młyny specialise in the traditional range of flours and in flour combinations.
Spelt Wholemeal for bread.
Type 450 White wheat flour for pastry. Low gluten.
Type 480 White wheat all purpose flour. Low gluten.
Type 500 (Krupczatka, Poznań, Wroclaw) White wheat flour for baking, confections, dumplings, pasta.
Type 550 White wheat flour for bread. Medium gluten.
Type 580 Light rye flour for bread and pasta. Low gluten.
Type 630 White spelt four for various preparations. Low gluten.
Type 650 White wheat flour. Medium-High gluten.
Type 720 Rye flour.
Type 750 White wheat flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 800 Rye flour.
Type 850 White wheat flour for bread including pizza dough. High gluten.
Type 950 Dark flour for wholemeal bread.
Type 1150 Rye flour. Medium-High gluten.
Type 1400 Sieved rye and wheat flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 1750 Durum wheat. High gluten.
Type 1850 Graham wheat flour with added bran for bread. High gluten.
Type 2000 Rye wholemeal flour for bread. High gluten.
Type 3000 Rye whole grain flour for sourdough bread. High gluten.
Italian flour is milled from soft wheat, known by 00, 0, 1, 2 and integrale.
Types 00 and 0 are now available with different degrees of strength, denoted by the range 90W to 400W (see W chart). The higher values indicate higher gluten.
Types 1 and 2 have small percentages of bran, integrale is the whole wheat. Strong white flour from Canada, sold as Manitoba, has become popular, adding gluten to flour mixes.
Semolina from durum wheat is combined with hard wheat flour to make pasta.
Grano Duro Hard wheat, for bread and pasta.
Grano Tenero 00 Soft wheat white flour, fine ground (see W chart for gluten strength and uses).
Grano Tenero 0 Soft wheat white flour (see W chart for gluten strength and uses).
Grano Tenero 1 Soft wheat white flour, bran, for bread.
Grano Tenero 2 Soft wheat flour, bran and germ, for bread.
Grano Tenero Integrale Whole soft wheat flour, bran and germ.
Manitoba (Canada) Hard wheat.
Semolino Coarse ground from durum wheat.
Semola di Grano Duro Rimacinata Fine ground from durum wheat, for bread and pasta.
130-200W breadsticks, crackers.
170-200W biscuits, bread, cakes, focaccia, pastries, pizza.
220-240W baguettes, ciabatta, dough with six hour fermentation.
300-310W pastries, dough with 15 hour fermentation.
340-400W brioche, croissants, panettone, dough with 15+ hour fermentation.
Domestic 00 and 0 sold in supermarkets ranges from 170-200W so it needs to be strengthened for use in Italian bread dough. Adapted from Professor Franco Antoniazzi, University of Parma, reported by Dario Bressanini.
The Swiss grade their flour for specific breads, cakes, confections and pastries and sell it as prepared combinations.
If you want to make a high energy bread you buy a packet of ‘Fitness Meal’ containing shredded wheat (type 1700), crushed rye and wheat bran, wheat flour with flakes (type 900), rye flour (type 720), wheat, oat and barley flakes, vegetable oils and fats (partially hydrogenated), skimmed milk powder, salt with iodine, pre-gelatinised wheat flour, corn flour, dextrose, lactic acid, and sorbitol.
If you want to replicate the delicious rye bread of the Valais / Wallis canton you buy a packet of ‘Walliser Flour Fix’ containing rye flour (type 700), wheat flour (type 1100), salt with iodine, pea fibre, lactic acid, roasted wheat, wheat gluten, sugar, caramel and barley malt.
Mühlilade Balchenstahl in Hittnau specialise in the vast range of flours, grains and flakes produced in the various Swiss mills.
Type 400 Soft wheat white flour.
Type 550 Hard and soft wheat white flour.
Type 600 Spelt flour.
Type 700 Rye flour.
Type 700 Light rye flour.
Type 720 Hard whole wheat and white flour.
Type 720 Rye flour.
Type 720 Hard wheat flour.
Type 750 Spelt flour.
Type 800 Light rye flour.
Type 900 Hard whole wheat flour.
Type 990 Rye flour.
Type 990 Light rye flour.
Type 1100 Dark rye flour.
Type 1100 Hard wheat flour.
Type 1200 Rye flour.
Type 1250 Dark rye flour.
Type 1500 Spelt flour.
Type 1500 Hard wheat flour.
Type 1600 Spelt flour.
Type 1700 Shredded wheat.
Type 1800 Graham flour.
Type 1800 Rye flour fine.
Type 1900 Spelt flour.
Type 1900 Rye flour.
Type 1900 Whole grain rye flour.
Type 1900 Hard stone ground wholemeal flour.
Type 1900 Hard wholemeal flour.
Einkorn (known as Siyez) Origin wheat. Low gluten.
Type 550 All-purpose white wheat flour for bread rolls, for pouch breads and for thin pastry dough. Low gluten.
Type 650 All-purpose white wheat flour for bread rolls, for pouch breads and for thin pastry dough.
Type 850 White wheat flour. High Gluten.
This feature is adapted from The Bread with Holes and Other Crusty Stories | The Rise of Artisanal Baking in Europe to be published by Editions Fricot in 2021.