Flour is essential for baking bread. But if you start to compare international flours you will fast realize that the flour types in one country are not easily to translate into flour types of another country. There is no international standard to make flour comparable. And that’s why MayK asked me to make a picture of the flours I use and give a closer description because German Type numbers can be rather confusing.
In Germany, flour is classified by its ash content. For that the flour is burned in a 900°C hot oven, so only the unburnable part of the flour – the minerals – are left over. And then the ash is weighted. According to the DIN 10355 each Type of German flour has to contain a defined amount of minerals. For Type 550 this is rougly about 550mg Minerals in 100g flour (which can also be described as 0.55% ash content). This can be varying a little bit because the DIN Norm allows a mineral content between 0.51% and 0.7%. As a rule of thumb: The higher the type number, the dark the flour is.
For whole grain flours (let it be wheat, spelt or rye) there is nothing like a Type number because the whole grain flour has to contain all of the grain, like the name suggested. I mill my whole grain flour by myself, using a mill attachment for my kitchen machine.
You will also find different amounts of proteins in the different flours, but this can vary a little bit from brand to brand and from year to year. But it will always something similar to the numbers I give in the table below. The protein content of a flour will give you a hint about the strength of the flour, because gluten is a big part of the proteins you find in flour. But it is only a hint anyway because the proportion of gluten can be varying and for a objective judgement you would need some information about the specific information about the amount of gluten proteins, what you seldom gets.
(% of the dry flour)
|Wheat flour Type 550
|0,51 – 0,7
|for white bread
|Wheat flour Type 1050
|0,91 – 1,2
|for darker bread (halfway between whole grain and white bread)
|Spelt flour Type 630
|for white spelt bread
|Rye flour Type 1150
|1,11 – 1,3
|for darker rye bread
And how can you find a flour which is similar to a German flour Type? If you can get the ash content, I would go by this. If not, I would try to get a flour with a similar content in protein. And maybe this Table or this Table at Wikipedia is helpful, too!
And by the way: There are more flour Types in Germany then the ones pictures above. But these are the most common once, which I use regular and which I always have in my pantry!