If you’ve ever wondered why your puff pastry has the lightness of a dumpling or why your pizza base looks like it’s been through the shredder, then it might be you’re using the wrong flour!
It seems where Italian flour is concerned, confusion reigns! A quick surf around on the web will give you totally contradicting info. So here’s a basic guide to give you the idea.
The 4 main classifications of Italian flour you’re likely to come across in the UK are designated 2, 1, 0 and 00. They are classified according to fineness of grind, with type 2 the coarsest and 00 the finest. The majority of Italian bakers and pizzaioli (pizza chefs) will often use a blend of different flours to benefit from the specific characteristics peculiar to each; firmness, elasticity, lightness, strength, crispiness, fluffiness etc.
00 flour is from the central part of the grain and is pure white. It is ideal for the most delicate jobs such as pastries, brioche, desserts, soft bread and some fresh pasta. 0 flour contains a part of the husk, the outer layer of the grain and is slightly darker and coarser. It’s extra strength makes it perfect for most bread and pasta and many use it successfully in pizza base.
The more the outer layer is used, the darker and courser the flour gets. Types 1 and 2 have good firmness and strength, suited to pizza base and bread, but are more often used blended with lighter flours. If all the outer layer is ground, we get wholegrain flour which is, as the name suggests the entire grain.
Another very common Italian flour is Semolina or Semola di grano duro. This is a coarse flour ground from durum wheat which is hard and non elastic, perfect for classic dry pasta. Semolina flour is also blended with other flours to add crispiness to bread or pizza bases.
Use 00 flour for fresh pasta, pastries and cakes and béchamel
Use 0 flour for fresh pasta, bread and pizza base
Use types 1 and 2 also suited to bread and pizza base (often good to combine 0 and 1 or 2)
Use Semola di Grano Duro for dry pasta and special bread or add to pizza base.