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READER QUESTIONS

Why is it so hard to get self-raising flour in Germany?

Seen as a necessity by many British and American bakers, trying to find this ingredient in German supermarkets will result in frustration.

A person gets ready to bake bread
If you're baking in Germany, keep in mind that it is tricky to find self-raising flour. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

When I first heard about how difficult it is to find self-raising flour in Germany (self-rising, for you Americans), I couldn’t quite believe it.

Surely it’s just listed under a different name, I thought. But when a thorough search of my local Kaufland didn’t reveal any self-raising flour at all, I was forced to seek answers from the more knowledgeable bakers in the expat community of Germany.

Where can you buy self-raising flour in Germany?

Even though self-raising flour is most likely missing from your local supermarket’s shelves, there are other ways to find it in Germany: one common suggestion on the Toytown Germany expat forum was to scour the shelves of any foreign supermarket – be it Indian, East Asian, British or American store.  Although these shops will often stock self-raising flour, many foreign bakers in Germany complained that this means paying steep import charges for a product that should really be quite cheap. 

READ ALSO: From Spätzle to Blaukraut: Six German cooking skills to master 

Other websites suggested that larger department stores could potentially have self-raising flour in stock. If you’re in Berlin, for example, blogger Nicolas Bouliane suggests checking out one of Berlin’s Galeria department stores (there’s one at Alexanderplatz), because they apparently often sell self-raising flour.

These options are few and far between however, especially once you leave the major cities. Because of this, a second common suggestion on foreigner forums was an enthusiastic “make your own!”, with a multitude of recipes ranging in complexity from “add a bit of baking powder” to a fully-fledged chemistry experiment.

Something to keep in mind if you end up making your own self-raising flour, writes Switzerland-based food blogger Bev, is that British and American baking powder is ‘double-acting’, which means it causes around twice as much rising as German baking powder.

When it comes to measuring your ingredients, Bev recommends using “about 1.5 to 2 times the amount [of baking powder that the recipe calls for]. Otherwise you’ll end up with flat scones.” As a general rule of thumb, therefore, she suggests adding 3-4 teaspoons of German baking powder for every 150g/60z/1 cup of plain flour.

A person bakes bread

It’s possible to bake without self-raising flour. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Swen Pförtner

But why don’t most German supermarkets sell self-raising flour?

So, it is possible to get self-raising flour in Germany after all, just not as easily as you might be used to back home.

But why? Why do Germans not have self-raising flour? The short answer is that, despite its prevalence in British recipes, self-raising flour is not strictly necessary. After all, it is just a pre-mix of flour and a rising agent, which can be easily duplicated with baking powder and a little bit of salt. Perhaps the better question is not why Germans don’t use self-raising flour, but why Brits and Americans do.

Self-raising flour was invented in 1844 by a British baker, Henry Jones, who hoped it would allow sailors to bake fresh bread on voyages, as a replacement for the rock-hard crackers that the sailors were given with their meals. It does nothing more than make the baking process a little faster and more fool-proof, and despite wide popularity in Britain (as well as in some of the UK’s former colonies and the southern states of the US), it never truly spread to other countries. 

Since Germans don’t have a problem mixing baking powder into their flour themselves (in fact, some seemed pretty confused by the idea of self-raising flour, calling it a pointless invention), there simply isn’t much of a market for self-raising flour in Germany.

Unfortunately for those of us who have grown up baking with the convenience of self-raising flour, it is unlikely to appear on standard supermarket shelves in Germany any time soon. So, when you next see self-raising flour in a recipe you want to follow, you have two choices: either head over to the nearest foreign supermarket, or get mixing.

Useful vocabulary

Flour – (der) Mehl

Baking powder – (der) Backpulver

Recipe (das) Rezept

To bake – backen

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READER QUESTIONS

What tourists visiting Germany need to know about the €9 ticket

Public transport in Germany is about to get a lot cheaper with the introduction of the €9 ticket this summer. We looked at whether you have to be a resident in Germany to get it.

What tourists visiting Germany need to know about the €9 ticket

What’s all this about cheaper transport?

You may have read on The Local (yes, we’ve been writing about it a lot!), that Germany is bringing in a reduced price travel ticket. For the months of June, July and August, people will be able to purchase a €9 monthly ticket which they can use on public transport all over the country. 

The ticket is valid on buses, trains, U-Bahn services, trams and regional trains. People will be able to use it in all local networks – whether it’s Hamburg, Bavaria, Berlin, North Rhine-Westphalia or anywhere else.

It’s not valid on long-distance transport – that includes ICE and IC trains, as well as Flixbus and Flixtrain services. So you need a separate ticket for these services. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

Is it available to tourists?

Definitely. Anyone in Germany can buy it. That includes tourists or anyone else visiting the country, as well as residents who live in Germany. 

How can I get it?

It’s not available quite yet, but you should be able to get your hands on it in the second half of May. All going well, it is set to be approved by the German parliament and states on May 19th and 20th (although they are bickering about the funding of it right now). 

Local transport providers are already updating their ticket machines. 

How does it work?

The ticket is being implemented by local transport organisations across the country so there are slight differences depending on where you get it. But the general idea is that people will be able to buy it at ticket machines, customer service centres and even via the transport provider’s app. 

The ticket will cost €9 per calendar month, or €27 in total if you buy three separate tickets. It will always be valid from the 1st of the month. So even if you buy the ticket on June 14th it will still cost €9 and it will only last until the end of that month (not into the next month). 

You can’t buy a three month version of the ticket – you’ll have to buy a separate ticket each month. 

The ticket will have your first and last name on it, so you can’t give the ticket to someone else. 

Two women take a photo in central Frankfurt. Tourists and residents can use the €9 travel ticket this summer. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Can I bring children with me?

Usually, local transport providers allow children under the age of six to travel for free with an adult who has a ticket. But check the terms and conditions of the area you are in. 

Can I bring a bike with me?

No. You’ll need to buy a special ticket to bring your bike on board. You can bring luggage on board without an extra ticket. 

Is it worth tourists buying the €9 ticket?

If you plan to take public transport in Germany, it’s definitely worth getting it. A single day ticket in Munich for example costs €8.20 normally (and even more depending on the zone). In Berlin, a single day ticket costs €8.80. 

Are there any downsides?

Expect services to be busy during these three months as more people turn to local transport. Rail operators have also urged people to watch out for building work on the lines. Since most people normally travel in summer, the warmer months are used to upgrade service and lines. 

READ ALSO: What is Sylt and why is it terrified of the €9 holidaymakers?

Why is the ticket being brought in?

It’s part of the German government’s energy relief measures, which include a €300 payout to German taxpayers and a fuel tax cut. The aim of the transport ticket is also to encourage people to leave their cars at home which protects the climate. If successful, it may lead to price reductions of local transport in future. 

Are there still Covid measures in Germany?

Yes – on public and long-distance transport, people in Germany still have to wear a face mask. You also have to isolate for at least five days (or a maximum of 10 days) if you get a positive Covid test, and there are still restrictions on entering the country

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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