There’s been an unusual spike in interest in American/European flour equivalents here on the site. It’s a subject I’ve flirted with over the years, mostly by offering advice to readers from other countries looking for flours that work with various recipes. I’ve had an extremely primitive table on the subject, posted in the ingredient section, but something more robust will be needed if I’m going to get into this topic in any depth.
I dread it, because there’s no such thing as an exact match between an American flour and a Continental flour. The reason, because there are so many different attributes you nave to line up. Flours differ not only in their extraction rate and gluten content, but in their gluten quality, their grind, the wheat they’re made from, and so on and so on.
The result is that “equivalent” flours usually won’t work for every application. Italian 00 flour is a great example. It’s got a baby powder grind like an American soft wheat flour, yet has a fairly high amount of protein, though that protein is of the “firm” European variety and not the “stretchy” American variety, so in some applications it feels like it’s low-protein. So what is this flour good for? When it comes to making noodles, it’s akin to an American all-purpose. For cakes and cookies it performs more like a soft Southern flour in my experience. For breads it is again more like an AP, assuming you’re making a flat bread like pizza or some sort of fine-textured roll or sandwich loaf.
So the real question when you’re translating recipes between America and Europe is: what are you making? For that reason things like tables don’t really work. I’m going to have to give this some thought. A separate section probably…maybe with more descriptive content for each flour instead of numeric information, which isn’t terribly helpful for a lot of people. Then again…hmm….