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.
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 Rinforzato. All 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!”
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.