Hi there. So remember, in our last blog post (Baking Ingredients and their Substitutes in Japan), we asked you about other topics that you would want to read or learn more about? Well, we got a request for this blog. So for all those who are currently located in Italy, this is for you! Today, we’re going to learn the answer to the question, “What is Italian 00 flour?” Plus, we’ll also do a little deep dive into some more facts about flour in Italy.
Think of this blog post as a very quick but still informative Italian flour guide. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
So what is Italian 00 flour?
Don’t you just hate blogs that have some long, convoluted intros and just don’t answer the question right away? Well, we don’t want to be like that. So to answer the question of “What is Italian flour 00?”:
Italian double zero flour, or farina doppio zero, simply refers to this soft wheat flour’s grind size. In Italy and in many other parts of Europe, there are flour grind sizes. They vary from double/two zeroes to the number 2.
Number two is the coarsest grind, while 00 represents the finest of finely ground flour. You can achieve the 00 grade only using the whitest, inner part of the wheat and then making sure it passes through the mill many times.
If you think that’s kind of weird, it’s a European classification thing. You might just be used to American flours which people classify by gluten content.
So remember, European flours classification=fineness of the grind, while American flours classification=gluten (which is a protein) content. Got it?
And don’t mistake the double zeros for a relationship to the gluten content of the flour. Most 00 flour actually has similar protein content to what all-purpose flours have.
Double 00 flours, however, do usually have fewer percentages of gluten as compared to those with coarser grinds, which is important to remember for later.
Why would we be wondering about Italian 00 flour, anyway?
Well, if you’re familiar with the Italian flour system, you probably won’t be. But some, like Bailiwickers who are currently located in Italy, aren’t, as you can see in this picture taken from The Bailiwick Academy Student Lounge (which you can only access if you’re a Bailiwicker).
As there are many different kinds of flour, it is best to know what to use for what pastry or bake you’re making. 00 flour is the best flour to be used for Italian cooking, so it’s a common type being sold in Italy. But not every recipe should be using this type of flour.
Plus, Italian flour facts are always good to know, since Italian flour is… well, confusing, to put it mildly, especially if you’re newly moved to Italy. But don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it! (Eventually.)
So when should we use Italian farina doppio zero?
What is 00 flour for, you ask? Well, the best time to use it is when you plan to make pizzas, especially if you plan to make thin-crust pizzas or New York-style pizzas.
Yes, pizza dough. You can think of Italian double 00 flour as pizzeria flour. Authentic pizzerias in Italy use that and nothing else.
It’s all about the gluten amount, which determines how chewy your crust will be. So, the protein content of 00 flour and its very fine grind (think baby powder) will produce a perfect pizza crust: chewy inside, crispy outside. That counts especially if you plan to cook pizzas in high heat.
A note though: if you plan to make some Italian-style homemade pizza, to make it more authentic, your home oven needs to reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit or 426 degrees Celsius. Your oven may not b able to reach those levels, but that’s not a problem for pizza restaurants.
Also, using Italian 00 flour for pizza means you won’t be experiencing chewing pizza crusts that are hard to chew through without some serious jaw dislocation. What a relief, huh?
Just typing it now is making us drool!
Oh, and another great use for Italian 00 flour is for making fresh, homemade pasta.
Is bread flour different?
Why did we suddenly switch to bread? Well, people also know Italy for its bread. That also means there’s plenty of flour being sold specifically for bread over there.
So, back to bread flour. Is it different from double 00 flour?
Bread flour is a coarser, white, or whole wheat flour that comes from hard spring wheat. This flour also has higher protein content than all-purpose flour… and also means a higher gluten content than double 00 flour. For your reference, the protein/gluten content of bread flour usually ranges from 12 to 15 percent.
That simply means bread flour will form stronger stands of gluten once you’re done kneading them, creating an elastic and chewy crumb that’s great for your usual… er, breads.
So… can we use Italian 00 flour for bread or cake or cookies?
The jury is out on this one. Some say that If you’re tempted to use 00 flour but you’re not going to make pizza or pasta, don’t even bother to do it. Apparently, the grind of the 00 flour is too thin for baking a loaf of bread. You’ll end up with a sad-looking loaf.
Also, some say that unless the cake batter and cake recipe are very forgiving, they wouldn’t suggest a direct substitution.
On the other hand, some say you can, and it’ll be fine. You’ll just end up with, say, finer and denser cakes, since the gluten content of 00 flour is higher than that of cake flour. And with cookies, you might end up with more crumbly ones.
In our opinion, you should use the flour that’s suited to what you’re making. Recipes call for specific flour types because of protein content and the water-absorbing properties of each flour. Read your recipe, and use the type of flour it calls for. It matters, especially if you plan to get serious about baking.
Let’s refer back to the grind size. For your reference, according to Luca’s Italy, here are the general uses for each grind:
- 00 – patisserie without yeast and fresh pasta, pastry cremes, and sauces
- 0 – patisserie with yeast and flatbreads
- 1 – bread
- 2 – bread
And if all else fails, just go use some all-purpose flour. There’s a reason it’s called all-purpose, right? Or if you’re not sure, just ask at the Student Lounge or message one of our chefs personally. That’s one of the privileges of signing up at The Bailiwick Academy!
We hope you were able to understand what flour to use in Italy a little bit better after reading this. Keep coming back to The Bailiwick Academy blog for more informative articles!