In the past, I have posted several Czech recipes on my blog. As an enthusiastic home cook and baker in the US, it is natural that I would make my native Czech husband foods that he grew up eating in Prague. My mother-in-law was an excellent home cook, and I’m lucky that she shared several recipes.
My husband and I have been together for almost 25 years now. Early in our marriage, I struggled to get some Czech dishes right, but have since mostly mastered them. In the early years, the flours I had access to in the US (or rather didn’t) were issues. In this post, I describe some of the most commonly used flours in Czech Republic – particularly wheat-based flours – and possible substitutions. The main wheat flours in Czech Republic are described according to coarseness, from smooth all the way to very coarse.
Where to buy actual Czech and/or Slovak flours (or equivalents) in the US or UK:
The US and UK have several residents originally from Central Europe. Areas with larger Central European populations sometimes have small grocery shops and delis that cater to these populations. I know of a couple Czech/Slovak shops, as well as Polish and Hungarian shops within an hour or less from my home. In this day and age, online shopping opportunities are also expanding rapidly. Visit my post Czech and Slovak Groceries in the US and UK for recommended shops that ship domestically.
Flour types and substitutions
Hladká mouka (smooth flour) – This smooth wheat-based flour is used in making various cookies (i.e. Linzer tart or Bear Paws) and delicate tortes and pastries, and the like. It is also good as a thickener for sauces. The closest flour produced in the US is unbleached pastry flour (not cake flour) that is sold by US companies like Bob’s Red Mill (see photo to the left), often shelved in organic or health food sections of larger grocery stores, like Whole Foods Market. This is a recommended substitute for hladká mouka. If you can get actual hladká mouka, all the better. I’ve also used Polish “Maka Puszysta – Tortowa Typ 450”, which seems to be the same. If you can’t find any of these flours, US all-purpose flour may work. It has for me in many cookie recipes.
Polohrubá mouka (semi-coarse flour) – This semi-course wheat-based flour is often the flour choice for cakes, certain pastries (like kolache), and even many breads. It’s slightly coarser than US all-purpose flour, but the two can sometimes be used interchangeably, with minor differences in the texture results. When I’ve used US all-purpose flour in place of polohrubá mouka, I’ve occasionally needed a bit more than the indicated flour amount in the recipe. Polohrubá mouka has a slightly higher protein content than all-purpose flour.
Hrubá mouka (coarse flour) – A primary use of hrubá mouka in Czech cooking is for making various dumplings. And Czechs love their dumplings! It is also in the occasional cake and cookie recipe, especially some with beaten egg whites in the batter. After years of so-so to lousy results with suggested substitutes, I strongly recommend buying actual coarse flour (hrubá mouka), when suggested. [See “Where to buy actual Czech/Slovak flours” section above.] If one must substitute, the product “Wondra” flour, in the US, combined with a little bit of all-purpose flour, can work almost satisfactorily. Wondra, also called “instantized flour”, is sold in the bakery ingredient/flour sections of most US grocery stores. It is in a blue canister, and its usual use in American cooking is for making gravies.
Krupice (very coarse flour) – Semolina flour in Czech Republic, infrequently used, is pretty much the same as it is in the US.
Celozrnná pšeničná mouka (whole grain wheat flours) – This flour was not that commonly used in traditional Czech cooking, but has become more popular as people look for healthy wholegrain options. There are two groups of this flour: a fine version (or jemně mletá), which is similar to US whole wheat pastry flour, and a coarser version (hrubá) about the same as regular whole wheat flour, in the US.
Other flours – Just like in the US and UK, there are a few other less commonly used flour options in Czech Republic. These range from rye flour (žitná mouka) to spelt flour (špaldová mouka), corn flour (kukuřičná mouka), and others.
Bonus tips: Additional Czech/Slovak baking ingredient information (and substitutions) can be found at the end of my blog post 10 Varieties of Czech Christmas Cookies and within some individual recipes there. One example is vanilla sugar (see photo and caption to the left).
Please feel free to ask any questions by posting a comment below. Or if you have additional tips of your own to share, I’d love to read them.