A Few Thoughts On “00” Flour

by A.J. Coltrane

Iron Chef Leftovers gave me ten kilos of “00” flour over the holidays. I’ve gradually been working through it. I initially tried some high-hydration pizzas with a small amount of oil, just like I’ve been doing with AP and bread flour. The results were waayy too extensible (stretchy) — extensible to the point of nearly disintegrating in my hands while shaping the dough. Last night’s pizza had a very modest 61% hydration and no oil at all. Even with that adjustment the dough was still very, very extensible.

April 28: Oven baked pepperoni.
April 28: Oven baked pepperoni. Medium hydration dough with oil.

A little poking around the internet gives this comparison of different flours at SeriousEats.

The fact is, the label Tipo “00” has nothing to do with protein content. Rather, it refers to the fineness of the milling. Tipo “00” is the finest grade of flour milled in Italy, and it has a consistency similar to baby powder. It’s available with several different levels of protein intended for different baking projects, just like American flours (which we’ll get to in a moment). The ones you’ll most commonly see in pizzerias are the redRinforzato bag, which features pictures of pizzas and bread, the bluePizzeria bag, which pictures a single pizza, and — the most common in the U.S. — the red The Chef’s Flour bags, which, in fact, contain the exact same flour as the RinforzatoAll three bags of flour have the exact same protein content: 12.5%

Because of the fineness of their milling, they don’t need quite as much water as an equivalent American flour (try making a 65% hydrated dough with “00” and American bread flour side-by-side and you’ll find that the “00” is much runnier).

To quote the Mythbusters guys:  “Well there’s your problem!”

June 2:  Grilled crab rangoon pizza.
June 2: Grilled Crab Rangoon pizza. Finished with cilantro.

One nice thing about using the grill when experimenting is that it forces me to create a dough that is *not* a total, sloppy mess. “How can I get this onto the grill” can become a real issue. In this case, using the grill pushed me to use a lower hydration dough than I might normally have tried, and it led to a small breakthrough.

A note about oil:  Normally, the addition of oil promotes browning and flavor at the expense of “lift”. I *like* browning and flavor, so the next “no oil” attempt will have something along the lines of 58-60% hydration, minimal kneading, and an 8 hour+ rise. In theory the longer rise (and short kneading) should give back some of the browning and flavor that would be lost by the absence of oil. It may be that adding a small amount of salt would help too — it should improve the structure and tie up some of the water, making the dough more manageable.

In theory anyway. It’s a process.

For the record – I was informed that this was the better of the two Crab Rangoon pizzas. Last night’s topping was cream cheese, crab, lime juice, honey, Sriracha, and cilantro.  I liked both of them about equally.

 

8 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts On “00” Flour

  1. I can invite you next time — with these kinds of things epic failure *is* an option, so you may want to bring a sandwich.

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  2. I take that back — I’ll fix you a sandwich if whatever it is bombs — you just have to bring beer. 🙂

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  3. Yeah, you too.

    I kind of have a love/dislike thing with Serious Eats. Tons of info is the love part.

    The dislike part is that (at least in my opinion):

    1. You’d better agree with everyone else, or shut up. It’s not among the more inclusive communities, though they sure think they’re inclusive. Just ask!
    2. I think that over time the website has lost focus. They’re trying to be all things to all people. If you’re interested in one particular thing it can be a while between posts of any utility. I had been going there all the time, now I just check in about monthly to skim for useful stuff.
    3. It feels like the music industry all over again. If you don’t know somebody then your opinion doesn’t mean squat, while the “approved” commenters get fawned over… it gets old.

    But lots of good info in the archives. That’s why there’s a link on the top right of this site.

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  4. Failure is always an option – I did go through an entire loaf of brioche to get six good toasted pieces last night. Plan B would have been more interesting, I think they would have turned into lettuce wraps.

    I stopped reading Serious Eats a few years back for the reasons AJ mentioned.

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  5. I’ve learned a lot from the EarthBox forums.

    But yeah, by and large forums are a waste of time.

    I listen to a fair amount of sports-talk radio, but if it’s a “caller” segment I listen to music or something else instead.

    Same reason I ignore most forums.

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