Living in France : UK Pastry recipes: Problems with Flour Differences:

Joined Mar 15, 2011
Is there a Chef trained in France and now working in the UK who can advise me  please?  

We moved to France some time ago and now I am really getting down to cooking again.  I am learning to shop, to use French products which we enjoy so much, and are eating in the regional French style. However, still  we like to eat  the Brit style too as there are so many cakes and pastry dishes that are just not available over here

I am having  multiple difficulties with using my UK recipes for cakes and pastry. I first thought it was the oven that was at fault or that I was losing my touch but after lots of research online it seems that the French flour qualities are different   (T45; T55; T65 etc)  and there  are no equivalents  to the UK Plain and Self- raising flour.  My pastry (using T45) although lovely texture, taste  and melt in the mouth  keeps rising which is so very difficult for blind baking ie quiches and for Cornish  pasties.  Very odd as the shop bought Pate Brisee or Pate Sucre does not seem to rise!    Not very successful for some reason with scones either (used T55).  Cake making is just different too.

I have researched on-line and it seems that all  the French flours are of a softer than the UK types and that T45 and T55 browns quicker than the UK flour types.  This I found this out this morning and  explains to some extent why my cakes are cooking differently.  

So my overall results have sometimes have ranged from  just disappointing to downright miserable. 

I do not want to import UK flour as it defeats to object of living here. 

Besides wanting to use my UK recipes I would also like to try and make Quatre Quart and the Bretagne Far cake.

Any advice about how to tackle these problems and making the transition would be much appreciated

PS   Good point for French flour - I no longer have to buy a separate cornflour  for thickening as the Farine fluid does the job just fine!!
Joined Mar 20, 2010
I would recommend you use T55 for making pastry and keep the T45 for lighter goods such as sponge cakes, and as you know T65 is strong flour for bread baking.

If you want to have a go at making your own batch of self raising flour make as follows:

1lb T55 (480g) to 1oz (30g) baking powder (levure chimique)

Sieve together 3 times to make homogeneous.

I imported french flour when I ran my bakery because of the quality of the flour (I used Irish wholemeal though).  It is a great product and one you'll get used to don't worry!
Joined Aug 13, 2006
I believe the flour in france and italy is very similar. 

I, too, had a big problem with my american recipes in italy, until i read julia child explaining how to make baguette and explaining how the flour is different there, not as strong, as american flour (i imagine a similar situation in the UK, though there there is also the problem that much flour is pre-leavened, so you have to add baking powder)

I experimented and found that if i reduced the butter and increased the flour the cakes, cookies and especially piecrusts would come out much better. 

I did it and do it by eye - say about 2 tbsp flour more for each cup, and about 2 tbsp less butter for each cup. 
Joined Mar 15, 2011
Thanks for your info & tips Cakeface.  Not a problem with mixing own raising agent - sometimes  used bi-carb plus cream of tartar to make my own baking powder, in the uk.

Have been doing some research and it has been suggested that french flour does not absorb water very well?  Plus, to use buerremou (softenend butter, I think)? instead of cold products.

As you say it is a matter of practice and trial & error.

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