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US vs UK flour Answered

Curious observation from my mother's recent 3 months in the USA, she says she is unable to bake well when she was in the USA. Now, given mum is a pretty amazing baker on this side of the pond,  I am wondering why that might happen ?

I wondered if  its "American flour", as opposed to "UK flour" - the recipe, would be the same kind of things, memorised over the years, like a simple scone, fairycakes, pastry.  Her main complaint was that items didn't brown, even at the same oven temperatures as she uses here, and after repeated experiments with the same recipes.

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Downunder35m

9 months ago

Bit old for a topic but since someone found it I give my 5 cents as well...

When I came to AU I had a similar problem with baking.
Used to european flour nothing really turned out the same.
And no measurements are not really affecting it as most people who do a lot of baking will manage to get this right ;)
From what I researched it comes down to two things:
a) The way the flour is made.
b) The wheat or other things that make the flour.

For example:
In the EU flour is not bleached or otherwise treated while in AU it is still common practice to "clean" the product.
This means a lot of things resonsible for the taste of baked stuff are missing.
Also if bleached the flour really struggles to brown unless you crank up the heat and burn everything.
Then there is the ingredients....
Where in the EU the ingredients are carefully selected and matched to produce the same product throught the year(s) in AU it is bagged and packed as it comes in.
So one day you have stuff from the east and the next from the west grown in different soil and all.
After several bad results coming out of my oven I decided to ditch the supermarket stuff and get my flour from the bakery supply instead.
And what a difference that made!!!
Cookies got nicely brown without burning and smoking.
Cakes came out moist and soft instead of dry and crumbling.
And of course I could select the type of flour to the requirements at hand instead of using one single brand and type for all.

I can only assume that things in the US are similar to AU, after all AU copies all US crap they can LOL
So if you struggle with the baking then try flour from a different brand - pay attention to standard and self rising!!
Only used self rising flour once together with baking powder and all.
Lets just say it took a lot of cleaning in the oven LOL
When buying in normal shops check the label for any hitns on how the flour was made.
"Natural", "untreated", "not processed" for example all give you the hint that the flour is not bleached or otherwise treated, just ground up cleaned and packed.
If you want to avoid throwing a lot of cakes in the bin or feeding them to the birds then try the heating test:
Take some flour samples and place them on a tray.
Set the oven to your normal baking temp and check how the flour reacts.
Anything staying white while others already turn brownish is no good for baking.
Flour that turns really dark on the "skin" of your pile but is white on the inside of the pile is great for cookies.
Flour that gradually goes brown from the outside to the inside is perfect for cakes, pizza and so on.

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KenniHDownunder35m

Reply 17 days ago

I've used bleached white all purpose American flour and have never had burnt cookies or dry cake. I will say using self rising the flour can get old meaning the baking powder is old in the mix and it won't raise like it should. I've used organic unbleached all purpose no difference except the price. I do not use this in my bread however and use specifically bread flour (which I think is considered strong flour in the UK). Maybe it just has to do with what you are used to as I've been wanting to do the bakes I see on the great British baking show and have yet to figure out the names of the flour (did figure out the sugar though lol). Maybe I will have to order like others have suggested.

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Downunder35mJosehf Murchison

Reply 9 months ago

Could be due to other frequencies used too.
Don't think the story is genuine as the employer would have been too negligent to react to customer complaints.
After all if you get a bill for something that was not done you would complain or would you? ;)
Did try similar a while back but with cracker bags.
They just felt weird and a burn test showed a quite thick layer of aluminium foil.
For some phones it worked to keep the GPS and reception out for others it did not.
And you really need to seal the bag by rolling the end up or similar.
Which brings me to the next question: How did he answer calls from his boss or did he never bother to call his best sparky? LOL

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Josehf MurchisonDownunder35m

Reply 9 months ago

He could always say he was in a hole, where I live it is hilly and when I go fishing or am between towns I quite often cant call out receive a call and the GPS don't work.

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LindaT117

3 months ago

I know these posts are quite old, but I wanted to say that I started ordering my AP and SR flour from England. I felt that my cakes were probably less light than they should be. I researched online and found that American flour has more gluten, so I decided to order flour from England and see if there was a difference. There is. My cakes are much lighter and raise higher. I now have no worries when I bake. BTW Downunder35m: that comment about US crap was disturbing to me and quite shocking.

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steveastroukLindaT117

Reply 3 months ago

Hi Linda,

Subsequent to this post (from five years ago), and mum passing away, we ended up emigrating to the USA ourselves. Where did you buy "English Flour" ?

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Josehf Murchison

9 months ago

Unless she bakes in metric all the measurements are different.

A US gallon is 4 quarts and a UK or imperial gallon is 4 quarts however an imperial gallon is 1.20095 US gallons.

Imperial cup is 1.25 US cups and it just gets worse as you continue on to teaspoon tablespoon and so on.

The flour can be a different breed of wheat so it may act a little different.

Altitude affects boiling point the higher the lower the boiling point, at 15,000 feet that can be room temperature.

But the big one that is probably messing her up, no two ovens are the same.

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janetyagoda

9 months ago

I live at 6,000 feet above sea level. For European bakes that call for self-rising flour should I replace with AP or cake flour and adjust the leavening and sugar as I normally do. To avoid sunken bakes and raw centers - I reduce the sugar and leavening by 25%.

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steveastroukjanetyagoda

Reply 9 months ago

Hi Janet,

In the end my wife and I emigrated to the USA three years ago. We haven't had issues in Pennsylvania, with US flours. We bake bread all the time.

We have a book called "The Bakers Appendix" which has some corrections of altitude.

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CharlotteS51

1 year ago

Flour from different countries has different characteristics due to the type of wheat planted (In the US the same brand actually can vary by region and/or season), soil nutrients, and the wheat's protein content. Also, the bleaching process can be different. Some brands use aging and some use chemical bleaching. Protein count and bleaching impacts moisture absorption which could impact browning. Protein counts on US flour is generally rounded up so at a 1/4 cup the counts look nearly the same but are not...Also, it could be the fat she used...the moisture content could be different. Also convection ovens heat a bit differently than a lot of US ovens. Therein could be the culprit as well. This guy has a great explanation. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17045/protein-con...

Each country grows, mills, bleaches, and labels things a bit differently and it can make a big taste difference.

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British Flour has baking powder it in. American all-purpose flour does not. It you get American Self-Raising flour, it will have baking powder in it but it also has salt.

To make an equivalent of British flour in the US, use all-purpose flour and add ~2 tsp of Baking powder for every 150g (140g=1cup) of flour.

Hope this helps!

We have Plain flour - all-purpose, and self-raising (rising), just like you, though ours lacks the salt.

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steveastrouk

5 years ago

So many useful ideas !
Thanks to everyone whose posted them.

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maewert

5 years ago

Maybe differences in the milk also? I understand US milk must be pasteurized and A and D fortified, etc. which effects our cheeses as well. Probably wouldn't affect the browning but possibly the flavor.

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steveastroukmaewert

Reply 5 years ago

Ours is pasteurized too, but I wonder if the fat content is modified ?

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caitlinsdadmaewert

Reply 5 years ago

And possibly the water. One of the mysterious reasons why you can't get a good bagel outside of New York City.

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Ninzerbean

5 years ago

It's the humidity where she was, when I was in Florida I had to decrease the amount of water in anything I baked - especially bread. I don't know where you mum was but I suspect that was the problem.

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steveastroukNinzerbean

Reply 5 years ago

Could well be - she was in Port Charlotte.
I shall mention that one !

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icengcaitlinsdad

Reply 5 years ago

+1
From the high desert....  High and Dry

A

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iceng

5 years ago

Probably accounts for some of the pleasant gastronomic differences between our countries.

It is also difficult to accept and dismaying that regulatory agencies could have such diverse continental affects on the state of our diets.

A