The baker chooses the flour to use to make bread based on its rheological and functional properties but also on the basis of the baking techniques that will be used.
Bread flours have a high protein content and doughs made from high-protein flours are both more elastic (stretch further) and more extensible (hold their shape better). There are basically two methods of making bread. The straight or direct dough method is a single-mix process of making bread. The dough is made from all fresh ingredients, and they are all placed together and combined in one kneading or mixing session.
The sponge and dough method is a two-step process: in the first step a sponge or yeast starter is made and allowed to ferment for a period of time, and in the second step the sponge is added to the final dough’s ingredients, creating the total formula. This method requires the strongest flours with the most structural support, where a strong gluten network is required to contain the CO2 gases produced during fermentation.
Traditionally, fresh egg pasta in Italy has always been prepared with light flours, which in the past were carefully sieved before use, in order to eliminate any lumps.
This principle is still valid today: to obtain a traditional egg pasta dough you can use “00” or “0” flours. But which of the two types is better than the other? In reality, the difference between type “00” and type “0” flours is linked to the ash parameter (i.e., the residue that remains when a sample of flour is heated to above 600°C): for type 00 flours it cannot exceed 0.55% and for type 0 flours 0.65%. The difference is rather negligible, and even a well-trained eye struggles to see the differences between these two types of flour.
Whether using a type “0” or type “00” flour, the results will be excellent, given the simplicity and genuineness of the recipe. The product obtained at the end of the rolling of the dough, will be slightly “grey”, but this is not a defect, and it is not the fault of the flour! In fact, during cooking, the high temperatures give the egg pasta its yellow hue and the pasta will take on its inviting characteristic color.
For a good fresh pasta, soft wheat flours with a protein content of around 10% should be used.
The protein level of a flour depends on the alveograph characteristics of the ground wheat. Flours obtained from the same wheat have an increasing protein content with a higher ash content.
Potato gnocchi are among the fresh pasta recipes prepared with soft wheat flours. The recipe is very simple and differs from the pasta dough by the addition of potatoes and a pinch of salt (they may be prepared with or without eggs).
The amount of flour should be around 20%-25% of the weight of the potatoes. In addition, in this case, a flour with a low protein content should be used, since flours with a high percentage of proteins would make the dough too tough. A low ash content flour should be used, with a grain size similar to semolina flour, so the yellow colour of the potatoes prevails in the dough.
To make a good-quality pizza dough, mixes of type 00 flour and Manitoba type 0 flour are used in a percentage from 5% to 20% with medium-strong rheological properties in order to guarantee an elastic dough that is both soft and tenacious.
In the case of the Pizza Napoletana TSG, there is a product specification that indicates the precise characteristics of the flour to be used – it must be made up of a mixture of type 00 and type 0 flours with a medium-high strength varying between 220 and 380 W.
The characteristics of the flour for the Pizza Napoletana are:
Value index E10 max 60
Falling Number 300-400
Dry gluten 9.5- 11%
Protein 11 – 12.5 %
There are countless types of cakes and pastries, each of which requires an appropriate type of flour. In general, type 00 flours and, sometimes, type 1 flours are used.
The type of cake to be prepared influences the type of flour so there are shortcrust pastry flours, cake flour, flour for choux pastry, flour for puff pastry, flour for leavened products, brioche flour and Manitoba flour.
Shortcrust pastry requires a low protein flour to maintain the right crumbliness and consistency and prevent it from crumbling excessively.
Its characteristics are W 100-120 (regarding the strength) and P / L (the resistance (P) is the force necessary to lengthen the dough while the elasticity (L) is the ability to stretch without breaking) ratio of 0.38-0.42.
For chemically leavened sponge cakes that are light and fluffy, flours with W 190-210 and P / L 0.40-0.45 are recommended.
For natural leavening with organic yeast, typical of cream puffs and pancakes, medium-strong flours with W 240-260 and P / L 0.40-0.45 should be used.
Puff pastry dough must be easily rolled and withstand long processes so the flour must have characteristics with W 300-320 and P / L 0.48-0.50.
Finally, for the production of panettone and Baba, strong flours called “Manitoba” with characteristics of W 420-450 and P / L 0.55-0.60 should be used.