One thing that I noticed when I first moved here was that baking supplies are totally different. Now, for most people, this might not be a big issue, but I’m a bit of a baking fanatic, and for me, this was very upsetting. Suddenly, many of my trusty recipes were turning out slightly wrong. This was most noticeable with my super reliable chocolate chip cookie recipe – the cookies kept turning out completely flat! I set out to find the culprit. Clearly, there were some factors that I could not control for (finding professional grade cookie sheets, getting the oven temperature to be exactly the same, etc.), and my mother had sent me baking powder and baking soda from the US, so those ingredients were eliminated as issues. Eventually, I figured that it had to be either the flour or the butter.
Polish flour is about the most confusing thing ever. For starters, I think that there are about 6 or 7 different kinds, and aside from the one called “tortowa” (cake), they all have cryptic names like “poznanska” and “krupczatka”, as well as little “typ” numbers from around 450 to 700. I’ve been here for about 18 months now, and I still have no idea which of these is the equivalent of all-purpose. I’m fairly sure that it’s not the cake one (which is not self-raising, by the way), or krupczatka, because it has as weird mealy texture. But as for the other ones…nope, no idea. I believe that there are two forum posts out there on the subject, but neither has been particularly helpful.
Anyway, since the flour remains a total mystery to me, I decided to address the issue of the butter. At first, I couldn’t figure out what the substantive difference between “European” butter and the butter that I buy in New York could possibly be. Then, I read that “American” butter averages around 81% fat, while “European” butter averages 85-86% fat. Armed with my new knowledge, I decided that I would attempt something new – if I were using European butter for an American recipe, then I would use 95% of the butter that the recipe instructed (this is easiest if you weigh your butter in grams). And, voila! It worked! So, now I can enjoy my lovely chewy, not flat chocolate chip cookies once again. If I ever figure out the flour to some adequate extent, I’ll let you all know.