Have you ever felt confused about Croatian types of flour? What their Croatian names and labels mean and what to use them for? This is especially common when you use online recipes and really bad translations. Not only do they leave you wondering. But in many cases, they send you on a completely wrong path.
Let's take an example of where most people struggle. In Croatia, we have two main typs of white flour: glatko and oštro. Now, glatko translates as smooth and oštro literally means sharp or hard. Finding international equivalents for these flours, however, is where the mix-up happens. 'Smooth' flour is, in fact, strong or bread flour. And 'sharp' flour corresponds to weak or cake flour.
Raise your hand if you found yourself making this mistake. You used 'sharp' flour for baking bread, right? And your bread fell apart… It's not your fault. Someone out there confused the words 'sharp' and strong and you doubted your baking skills.
Please don't. I am here to solve the Croatian flours conundrum once and for all. I'll explain everything you need to know to master all the Croatian recipes you want to recreate in your kitchen.
How we categorize Croatian flours
First of all, I have prepared a useful chart of all major Croatian flours and their international equivalents. This will be your Croatian baking cheat sheet. Take it and enjoy your kitchen success. Get the Croatian flours chart below.
Next, if you want to understand the way we classify Croatian flours, here's the long story.
Flours by ash content
In Croatia, we use several measures to tell flours apart. The first one is ash content. This is the amount of mineral residue after the flour is burnt. Of course, you won't be burning the flour at home. But this value, ash content, tells you how wholesome a type of flour is. Let's expand on this.
A wheat kernel consists of three layers: the germ, the endosperm and the bran. White flour has the germ and a little bit of the endosperm. Wholegrain flour has all three components. Its ash content is highest because the bran contains lots of minerals.
In Croatia, we have two types of flours that fall between the white and the wholegrain. These use more of the endosperm (the middle of the kernel) and are more nutritious. We call them polubijelo (half-white) and crno (dark).
Flours by gluten content
You will rarely see gluten content displayed on the packaging of Croatian flours. But when you look on the manufacturer's website, all of them give this information. We are still talking about the same names for the flour. It's just a matter of you learning how much gluten each flour type has.
So, oštro brašno (sharp flour) has 10% gluten and glatko brašno (strong flour) has 12-14%. Why is this useful to know? Well, because when we bake bread, we need gluten development. And when we want a flaky pie pastry, we handle the dough as little as possible to prevent gluten development.
Flours by grind
We are still talking about the same types of Croatian flour. But some will be more coarse and others much finer. It's a difference that you can see and feel. And the only thing you need to learn is which type of flour is best for which recipe.
Again, oštro flour (sharp flour) is best for flaky pies and biscuits. It is coarser than glatko brašno (strong flour) but finer than semolina. Glatko brašno, as well as polubijelo and crno, are finely ground flours.
Here is the video where you can get the sense of it all.
Croatian flours: three types of white
Croatia is one of the rare countries where oštro (sharp) and glatko (strong) flour are common in everyday cooking. Most other countries have all-purpose or plain flour as a standard. Bread or strong flour is a speciality type.
Croatian oštro (sharp) flour is labelled as T-400 (this is the ash content). You'll recognize it by the coarser grain. Its gluten content is low (about 10%), which makes it ideal for creating flaky doughs.
In Croatian recipes, oštro brašno is used for pies, biscuits and cookies, but also for sponge cakes. This type of flour comes from the so-called weak grain of wheat. Our sharp flour is coarse but in other countries, cake flour can be finely ground too.
If you don't have access to cake flour, use all-purpose or plain flour in your recipes.
Croatian glatko brašno (strong or bread flour) comes labelled as T-500 or T-550. It is a fine grind so when you touch it, it leaves flour particles on your fingers. The gluten content is high (12-14%, depending on the manufacturer), which is perfect for baking bread.
Croatian strong flour is best for bread, strudel, burek, pancakes or any type of yeasted dough, such as krafne. You can often replace it with all-purpose or plain flour. But when you attempt a strudel or a burek, make sure to pick a type of strong flour available in your country.
Finally, we have krupica or griz (semolina) – a very coarse type of flour. We use it for making mush, soup dumplings or for texturizing pasta dough.
Note that '00' flour is not a Croatian variety. It's what the Italians use for pasta, pizza and bread. This flour is super fine and with high gluten content. When a recipe for pasta calls for a combination of '00' flour and semolina, use a mix of oštro and glatko brašno.
Croatian flours: wholesome and wholegrain
Two types of flour that you may not have heard of are polubijelo (half-white) and crno (dark or black).
Half-white and dark
These flours look white because they have the brain removed, just like the white flour. However, they use the entire endosperm from the wheat kernel. This makes them more nutritious and moister.
Both of these flours are finely ground and high in gluten content. So, you guessed it, they are perfect for bread. Polubijelo is labelled as T-700 or T-850 and crno as T-1100 or T-1600.
In Croatian bakeries, you'll find polubijeli and crni kruh (half-white and dark/black bread). They are made with these types of flour. Although they still look white-ish, they keep for longer and are healthier.
Here's a tip. Try making any kind of fritters with half-white flour to improve their texture and shape.
This flour is the same as wholegrain flour around the world. When you bake bread with it, it comes out dark because the grain has kept the bran. Integralno brašno (wholegrain flour) has the highest nutritive value but it makes bread heavy and dense. The best practice is to mix it with white flour to help it rise better.
Here are some examples of Croatian recipes and the flours you need to use.
Glatko (strong flour): bread, pogača, strudel, burek, krafne, buhtle, mlinci, rezanci, pancakes.
Oštro (sharp flour): kiflice, pita od jabuka (apple pie), sponge cake, zaprška (roux).
You'll find all these recipes in both of my cookbooks. Happy cooking and baking.