Flour Power

November 25, 2015

I desperately miss the flour we used in Zurich. Not only was it totally chic in its cream colored bag with vintage design and sleek typography, but it was really good flour. Pastry dough came together easy as pie, pancake batters were smooth, dumplings and cookies came out fluffy and perfect. Back Stateside, I've tried making all of the above with a variety of different flours and they all suck. Pie crust is crumbly and dense, pancake batters are lumpy, and dumplings are brick like. I just do not get it. I'm using new cans of the same Trader Joe's baking powder and soda I always took back to Zurich with me on every visit to the States. What is the difference?
But it's not just flour based recipes. Other recipes aren't turning out as well, either. Our beloved Spaghetti Bolognese (from this brilliant cookbook) isn't turning out as tasty. It seems like everything I cooked or baked in Switzerland was richer and filled with more flavor. I'm using high-quality ingredients like organic ground pork and beef and imported Italian pancetta. Is it just my imagination?

Has anyone else experienced this? And please, give me your recommendations for your favorite all-purpose flour. I have two discs of worthless pie crust in the fridge and I need to make a cherry pie today! ;) Thank you. xo

Join the conversation!

  1. Try buying some Canadian all purpose flour instead. American flour is made from soft wheat and Canadian flour is hard wheat. What you had in Switzerland was maybe more of a hard wheat? Worth trying anyway. I know my mom had a hard time baking when she lived in the USA briefly due to the different type of flour.

  2. Ps. I notice you used a pre-prepared mirepoix. Preparing your own fresh would probably have more flavour (though I get with two little ones that might not be realistic). Did you use the same short cuts in Zurich?

    1. NOPE! Last night, I tried that for the first time. I'm going to go ahead and call it a big fat fail. ;) Such a bummer, because the Mirepoix is a total time sucker. Haha!! Too good to be true usually is. I think I'll just use the food processor from here on out. The shape isn't that important... Thanks for the tip on the Canadian flour. Now to find it! xx

  3. This was one of my favorite topics-of-difference after living in Munich for four years! I'm not sure how similar German and Swiss flour are: however, since back in the states, I gravitate to King Arthur's for bread (yeast) and I love Jovial Einkorn flour for baked goods. Sadly, they are both more expensive - I've occasionally had to order the einkorn online. Interesting about the Canadian flour, I'm going to check it out.

  4. Are you using American butter or European butter? I know there's a difference, and I think it's that European butter tends to have a higher fat content than American butter. Fat = tasty goodness ;)

  5. Great ideas! None from me--just empathizing. The baked goods in Copenhagen were divine. And definitely less sugar is used. Unfortunately I'm used to American treats again (we lived in Copenhagen for 5 months and whe I got back to Ohio, everything was way too sweet).

  6. Ingredients (food generally) are definitely of higher quality in CH...always has been...I feel your pain :( Things have less preservatives (if any for some!) etc... I know I drink milk like crazy there, and here in Canada, I barely touch the stuff....don't even get me started on the cheese rant...

  7. When I lived in London, the flour was very different to ours. Apparently ours must be a bit more self-rising than theirs was. In the beginning of my baking tenure in the UK, everything was flattened and not too great. Now that I'm back in the US, I swear by King Arthur flour and love their Special Patent flour. I get it in a 50 lb bag from their store in Vermont which is fortunately nearby. But I second the King Arthur vote, it's worth the money and if you can find the Special Patent flour online, it is great for breads, cookies, pancake batters, etc etc. Good luck!

  8. Yup! A lot of things I bake here in Australia taste vaguely "not right" - brownies in particular, even when I bring the same unsweetened baking chocolate home from the US. It hadn't ocurred to me that it might be the flour. I'll have to experiemnt!


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