British Expat Bakers need to know the difference between UK Flour and US Flour

Last updated on June 27th, 2020 at 11:24 am

British Expats who move to the USA can be thwarted in their baking efforts …

Have recipes you have used for years and years suddenly failed you when moved to the USA – and you just don’t know why?

The most likely culprit is your flour – you need to know how US and UK flours differ.

You should be aware that the protein levels in US breads tend to be higher than UK flours – and understanding the difference is key to baking success.

One of the key differences, is that US flours tend to have more protein (gluten) than UK flour Yes … I know that’s a generalizationm but it’s one that bears some explanation to make it a little clearer…

The protein or gluten difference between UK and US Flour is only a few percent in most cases, but that can make all the difference when it comes to making a cake vs a pastry vs a bread dough.

UK plain flour is typically 10% or lower protein

You can find some UK ‘strong flour’ that’s only 12g/100g of protein – that would be the same as a US All Purpose Flour!

US all-purpose flour is generally low 12% and often around 12.9% which would be most definitely be considered ‘Strong Flour’ in the UK.

9-10% protein flour makes good cakes (small crumbs).
10.5 – 11.5% makes a decent pastry and can make bread (but not great bread), 12+ to 12.9% makes an pretty good bread. High 12% makes for crusty bread after a good hard kneading – the more you knead the bread, the more you’ll get a crust and a chewy consistency.

So yes, while US flour generally have higher protein the UK flours you need to look carefully at the ingredients.
Examples

    • McDougalls supreme sponge flour in the UK – 9.3g (9.3% protein) – this flour is perfect for light airy sponge cakes – rubbish for bread.  US equivalent is cake flour – which is typically 8-10%.
       
    • Homepride Plain Flour is 9.73g of protein (lower than most US All-purpose flours). The US equivalent is All Purpose flour but check for a protein level of high 9% to low 10% to get the same results.
       
    • Homepride Strong Bread Flour is 12.0g of protein. The US equivalent is Bread Flour.

Those are pretty standard UK flours.

Self Rising Flour is a special case – you can make your own self-raising flour by adding 1 and half teaspoons of baking powder (not baking soda) and ½ teaspoon of salt to regular flour.  Homepride self-raising flour is 9.73g of protein, so use an All-Purpose US flour of just under 10% and add some baking powder – Clabber Girl is a good cheap brand you can find in just about every grocery store.

Check your local All Purpose flour and you’ll likely find that AP Flour here in the US is equivalent to a Strong flour in the UK.

So now you might understand why UK bakers end up with different results here – know your product, know your flour and match them to one another. Cakes = less protein flour, breads = more protein flour.

English Flours – Order some UK Flour until you get the hang of baking here – the prices should be current:


For a dedicated UK Flour + Baking Supplies post – take a look at our other posts…


So – now you know a little more about flour – and how to get the ones you want – you can buy UK flour on  Amazon – follow the link or adapt to available US Flours!

See all the British Foods on Amazon Shopping List posts…


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