In Italy, double zero flour is known as “doppio zero.” It has traditionally been used to make pasta as well as pizza dough and sourdough bread.
Double zero flour is a very finely ground flour that is usually made from durum wheat. Flour in Italy and other parts of Europe are categorized by how fine they are.
The grades run from 00 to 2 with 00 being the finest and 2 being the coarsest.
There are different types of double zero flour. This will depend on whether you want to make pizza dough or pasta, as the gluten content will vary.
Slightly higher gluten content is needed when making pizza dough compared to making pasta.
Why Is 00 Flour Important To Italian Cooking?
Pasta is food that is synonymous with Italy, and the flour that it is made from is obviously of huge importance and pride to any Italian cook.
Due to the refined properties of 00 flour, it is ideal for making pasta and pizza dough. The type of gluten contained in 00 flour makes the dough more elastic and less likely to break when it is worked and stretched.
This means that it can be kneaded and worked vigorously, but it will not produce a rubbery or tough texture. It makes for a light, airy crust and is not at all chewy.
Double zero flour is ideal for cooking rapidly at high temperatures. Wood fired pizza ovens are a good example of this.
Because 00 flour is so fine, it absorbs less water. This means that when you make a pizza dough, it will have a higher hydration rate and therefore be lighter and more crispy. This type of base has a better texture and is more easily digested.
Naples is famous for its thin and crispy pizza base, and 00 flour is the gold standard for making Neapolitan pizzas.
As pasta only contains three ingredients, 00 flour, water and salt, it is important to use the correct flour. Pasta needs to have elasticity and plasticity, which comes from a flour with high gluten content.
The higher the protein content, the higher the amount of gluten.
Is There A Difference Between 00 Flour And All Purpose Flour?
American flour is graded according to the amount of protein it contains, while double zero flour is so called because it is very finely milled. This is how Italian flour is graded, according to how finely the flour has been ground.
Double zero flour also comes in up to five different variations of protein and gluten content. So, although some people may assume that 00 flour is a low protein flour, this is not the case.
There are different levels of protein in different types of double zero flour.
American all-purpose flour is typically made from a blend of durum wheat and red wheat. It has a protein content of around 11% which is fine for pizza dough, although the texture will not be the same as with double zero flour.
You may also notice the difference when you roll the dough, it will not be as elastic and can be prone to tearing when stretched.
How To Best Use 00 Flour?
As there are different types of double zero flour, it is important to know which one is best for what you are making. Each 00 flour will have a protein content on the packaging, it may also have a corresponding W number.
This indicates the percentage of protein in the flour.
Generally, a higher level of protein will make a stronger dough, such as used in sourdough bread. A lower content of protein produces better biscuits and cakes, while a medium protein content flour is ideal for pizza dough and focaccia.
A double zero flour with a high protein content will produce an elastic and strong dough that can be fermented in the fridge for a couple of days.
This is due to the strength of the gluten in the flour, which is closely related to the protein content.
Weaker protein content flour will make a dough that requires a shorter fermentation time. This dough may tear if you are not careful, but will give good results if baked the same day and not stored.
Double zero flour with a high W rating is a very strong flour and contains a high percentage of protein. This flour is ideal for making focaccia bread.
Due to its durability, the flour allows the dough to be cold fermented for several days without losing any of its strength.
Are There Alternatives To 00 Flour?
Of course, if you cannot get hold of double zero flour, then you can use alternatives. The most often substituted is all-purpose flour for pizza dough and pasta.
However, you can also use semolina flour, which is high in protein and gluten.
The most important attributes of pasta dough are elasticity and plasticity. Elasticity means it can be stretching and will snap back, making it easier to knead.
Plasticity means that it can be molded into certain shapes and will hold those shapes well.
You can make sure that your pasta has these qualities by choosing a type of flour that has a high protein and therefore high gluten content.
Pizza dough can be made with bread flour or all-purpose flour. Both of these have high protein content and gluten. However, the gluten will behave differently, resulting in a slightly more chewy texture to your pizza base and crust.
Overall, if you want to make authentic pasta or pizza dough, then it is worth spending the time and effort finding double zero flour. It will give you the taste and texture that the best Italian cooks strive for.
However, if you can’t find any, or it seems too expensive then substituting all-purpose, semolina or bread flour will work just fine.
Some US flour manufacturers are attempting to produce a 00 flour clone, which will hopefully make it more accessible and affordable to all.