Czech home bakers most often bake with wheat flour. If you look around in Czech shops, you will find that wheat flour usually comes in three varieties, referred to as Hrubá (coarse), Polohrubá (semi-coarse), and Hladká (smooth).
As you may have guessed, this is the basic classification of wheat flour based on the fineness or coarseness of its particles.
In Czech recipes, the type of flour is indicated in the list of ingredients. But what if you live in the USA and would like to try one of the appealing Czech pastries? What flour should I use when the vast majority of recipes in the US call for all-purpose flour?
Let me explain it further.
➜ Hladká mouka
Czech Hladká mouka is a smooth wheat flour with a high gluten content, making it an excellent choice for cakes or yeast doughs for Kolache and Buchty. It is also used for velvety Palačinky pancakes and for thickening sauces with roux.
Doughs made with this fine flour rise quickly and evenly, resulting in soft and fluffy baked goods.
Hladká mouka is a common type of flour in Czech cooking that has a wide range of uses. It is the closest equivalent to all-purpose flour used in the US or Canada. If you are based in the United Kingdom or Australia, substitute Czech Hladká mouka with plain flour.
➜ Polohrubá mouka
Polohrubá mouka (semi-coarse) is a Czech specialty developed by millers to meet the demands of enthusiastic Czech bakers. As the name suggests, semi-coarse flour is made from coarser-ground grains.
TIP: One of the nice things about Polohrubá is that it tends to form fewer lumps during cooking than AP flour.
Polohrubá is often added to Hladká mouka to improve the quality of the pastry, such as texture and shelf life. Polohrubá flour is most commonly used in the production of sheet cakes with a runny batter-like dough, such as the Czech Bublanina cake. It finds frequent use in preparing crumby Posypka topping but is also employed in fruit dumplings (ovocné knedlíky).
A possible replacement for Czech Polohrubá mouka in the USA is Wondra flour.
➜ Hrubá mouka
When preparing Czech recipes, I am often asked about this particular type of flour.
Czech Hrubá mouka has a much coarser texture than all-purpose flour and is typically used in dishes that need to be boiled, such as traditional Czech dumplings, whether they are bread dumplings (Houskové knedlíky) or potato dumplings (Bramborové knedlíky). Other examples of Czech recipes using coarse flour are Šišky or Škubánky.
Finding a direct substitute for Czech coarse flour in the US may be difficult. Hovewer, you can easily substitute it by adding fine semolina or cream of wheat (Czech Krupička) to all-purpose flour, roughly in the ratio of 1 part semolina to 2 parts all-purpose flour.
Did you know that the three basic types of Czech flour can be easily identified thanks to color markings? Hladká is green, Polohrubá is blue, and the package of Hrubá flour is labeled red.
➜ Czech flour around the world
Finding the right flour for your recipe can be quite a challenge! I've asked my community around Czech recipes, who live abroad and have experience with Czech flour, to lend a hand in recommending the best replacements for each type of flour.
My people have been incredibly helpful and provided me with answers that I think will also be beneficial to you. I have put together a table for you with the types of Czech flour and their substitutes in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
The bottom row shows Polish flour, and just below the table, I will explain why you might find this information interesting!
|Mix of AP flour + Wondra/Cream of Wheat
|Cream of Wheat
|Robin Hood blending flour
|Mix of AP flour + Semolina
|Continental sharps flour
|Strong bread flour
The magic of Polish flour lies in the fact that Polish communities abroad often run shops selling Polish food. These shops also offer flours very similar to those used in Czech cuisine.
So if you are looking for a substitute for Czech flour abroad, see if there is a Polish deli nearby. Using the information from the last row of the table, you can easily choose the right flour for your culinary adventures!
➜ More interesting flour facts mentioned by my readers
Here are a few more tidbits about flour that are worth highlighting:
- Don't add extra work for yourself! All-purpose flour can be used for everything, from baking cakes to thickening sauces. You can even make Czech dumplings with AP flour, seriously! It just takes a bit of patience and maybe a bit of practice.
- Wondra flour comes in a typical blue container. It is very similar to our Czech "Polohrubá," but costs considerably more than AP flour!
- People sometimes use cream of wheat/semolina mixed with AP flour or plain flour to achieve what they want to do with Czech Hrubá mouka. The basic rule of thumb is to mix 3/5 AP flour and 2/5 cream of wheat.
- In Australia and the UK, you'll often come across self-raising flour. Baking powder has already been added to this flour, so be careful with the recipe you want to make.
- In the Czech Republic, we use "Hladká" flour (similar to AP or plain flour) for thickening sauces. If the sauce needs to be gluten-free, use arrowroot, corn starch/potato starch, or corn flour instead.
Important note: Keep in mind that each type of flour weighs and hydrates differently, so start with a smaller amount than your recipe calls for and add more as needed.
➜ Can I make Czech dumplings with all-purpose flour?
First of all, I must mention that dumplings are one of the most iconic Czech foods. Many Czechs abroad wonder what kind of flour to use since traditional dumplings are made with Hrubá coarse flour.
I can assure you that you can easily make Czech dumplings with all-purpose flour (tested many times with Czech Hladká flour). Dumplings made with all-purpose flour will be soft and airy, but with a less coarse texture. The flavor will be fantastic, no worries.
MY TIP: I recommend steaming Czech dumplings instead of boiling them in water. They will be evenly cooked and more visually appealing.
Now it's your turn—if you live outside the Czech Republic, what are your experiences with flour? Please let me know in the comments which flour you use and in which country. I will be happy to add your insights to the article about Czech flour!