A package of 00 flour

00 Flour (Tipo 00 / Zero-Zero Flour / Double Zero Flour)

PizzaBlab » The Encyclopizza » 00 Flour (Tipo 00 / Zero-Zero Flour / Double Zero Flour)

00 flour has become synonymous with ‘pizza flour’ in recent years, often regarded as having unique qualities. However, contrary to popular belief, the ’00’ classification doesn’t actually reveal much about the flour’s properties. Curious to know more? Keep reading!

00 Flour – Introduction

Before we begin discussing 00 flour, let’s first provide some background information on flour and its ash content – a background that is crucial for understanding what 00 flour is.

The wheat kernel consists of three parts: the endosperm, bran, and germ. The endosperm, which contains all the gluten-forming proteins, makes up the majority of the wheat kernel. What we refer to as “white flour” is essentially just the endosperm, separated from the bran and germ. On the other hand, wholemeal flour is made from the entire wheat kernel, and includes both the bran and germ.
(For further reading about flour in general, please refer to this post: A Guide to Understanding Flour – Types, Role in Baking, Characteristics, and Essential Knowledge).

In many parts of the world, flours are classified based on their ash content, which indicates the amount of bran present in the flour. In other words, the ash content of a flour determines how “pure”/refined it is. European flours, for instance, are primarily classified based on their ash content.

Below is the classification of Italian, French, German, and American flours:

Flour TypeAsh Content
000.55% or lower
Integrale (Whole Wheat)1.3-1.7%
T450.45% or lower
T150 (Whole Wheat)1.40% or higher
4050.5% or lower
1600 (Whole Wheat)1.2-1.8%
Short Patent Flour0.35-0.45%
Medium Patent Flour0.45-0.55%
Long Patent Flour0.55-0.65%
Straight Flour0.6-0.7%
First Clear Flour0.8-1%
Second Clear Flour1% or higher
Whole Wheat Flour1.5-2%

It is important to note that the classification of flours above is based solely on their ash content. Aside from meeting the specified ash content range, these flours can possess a wide range of characteristics.
In the specific context of Italian flours, it is also necessary for the flour to have a minimum protein content of 9% for 00 flour and 11% for 0 flour.

For information on the classification and regulation of other flours in Europe, please refer to this presentation.

What Exactly Is 00 Flour, and What Makes It Special?

As shown in the table above, flours in Italy are classified from 00 to whole wheat flour (00, 0, 1, 2, ‘integrale’). 00 is the most refined of all, almost completely devoid of bran.

It is important to note that, contrary to common belief, there is no connection between the 00 classification and the “grinding degree” of the flour, or how “finely” it is milled. All types of flour in the table above are ground in the same way (to the same granular size), with the only difference being their ash content.

So, what does the 00 classification actually tell us in the context of pizza making (and other baked goods)? Contrary to popular belief – not much. Let me explain why:

As mentioned, the ’00’ classification (or any other classification) only indicates the amount of ash (bran) in the flour. Besides the ash content, 00 flour can vary widely in terms of its characteristics, including “strength”, protein content (ranging from 9% to 14%), gluten properties, W index, and water absorption capacities. The only characteristic that sets 00 flours apart (and, in general, most Italian flours) is their low enzymatic activity (more on that later).

In the past, the ash content in flour was used as an indicator of its quality (a lower bran content was considered a sign of higher quality, as it suggested better separation between the endosperm and bran); However, as bakers today, the ash content is not significant to us and is merely a technical measurement that primarily concerns flour mills for quality control and regulatory compliance purposes.

Therefore, when it comes to making pizza (and other purposes), the 00 classification does not provide us with any meaningful information about the characteristics of flour, or its suitability for making pizza (or any other baked goods).

Furthermore, as shown in the table above, the Italian ’00’ classification is roughly comparable to the French T45/T55, the German 405/550, and the American Patent Flour classifications. All of these flours can have various characteristics and may be more or less suitable for pizza making or other baked goods. Therefore, the classification of a flour should not be overemphasized or considered of utmost importance.

Why Is 00 Flour So Popular?

So why (and how) did 00 flours become so popular and almost synonymous with “pizza flour”? The answer is simple – Italians are champions of self-promotion when it comes to their food culture, and have made the entire world believe that their regular white flour possesses special qualities.

Today, the term “00” (outside of Italy) is purely a marketing term, and most of the world has fallen for it. Using 00 flour is not necessary for making a good pizza – excellent pizzas (and other baked goods) can be made using local flours that may be just as good as their Italian counterparts.

This does not mean that Italian flours are not good (like any flour, it depends on the specific application); But it does mean that the ’00’ classification is meaningless in terms of baking, and is mainly used for marketing purposes (outside of Italy).

Important Things to Know about Italian and European Flour

There is a separate, detailed post about Italian flours that I highly recommend every pizza lover/baker (or baker in general) to read. It can be found here: Is Italian Flour Essential for Making Pizza? Everything You Need to Know about Italian Flour.

Here is a summary of this post in the context of 00 flour and Italian flour in general:

  • The protein content of European/Italian flour is calculated differently compared to the rest of the world; Instead of using a 14% moisture basis, it is measured based on dry matter. To compare the protein content of Italian flour to American flour (or flour outside of Europe), you have two options: dividing the protein content of the American flour by 0.86, or multiplying the protein content of the Italian flour by 0.86.
    For example, if an Italian flour has a protein content of 13.5%, its protein content using the American (14% moisture base) calculation would be 11.6% (13.5 * 0.86). Therefore, in terms of protein content, a 13.5% protein Italian flour is equivalent to an American flour with 11.6% protein content.
  • The bread wheat grown in Italy (not to be confused with durum wheat) is primarily weak and low in protein, and on its own, not suitable for most modern baking applications, including pizzas and breads. To overcome this, Italians import stronger wheat and use it to grind their flours, blending it with the weak Italian wheat.
  • In general, Italian flours produce a more extensible dough, which leads to a more open, airy, and “delicate” crumb texture.
  • Italian flours are typically characterized by low enzymatic activity, which makes them ideal for baking at high temperatures of a wood-fired oven. However, they are considerably less suitable for baking at lower temperatures of a home oven.

00 Flour for Pizza – A Blessing or a Curse?

So, in conclusion, are there any advantages or reasons for using Italian 00 flour when making pizza?

If we are discussing the preparation of a Neapolitan pizza baked at temperatures of 450C/850F and above, then the answer is yes:

  1. The quantity and quality of protein (gluten) in 00 flours, which have a low to medium protein content and a “delicate” gluten, contribute to achieving the characteristics of a classic Neapolitan pizza – a soft texture that melts in the mouth.
  2. Additionally, the low enzymatic activity of 00 flours helps prevent the dough from browning excessively during high-temperature baking.

On the other hand, when discussing baking in a home oven, the answer is – not necessarily.

Using flour with low enzymatic activity, such as most Italian 00 flours, and baking at a relatively low temperature in a home oven (typically between 250-300C/480-570F), can lead to one of the following outcomes:

  1. The crust will not brown properly and will remain pale, giving it an unbaked appearance. This is not only unappetizing, but it also results in a crust that lacks A SIGNIFICANT amount of flavor due to inadequate browning.
  2. Alternatively, the crust will eventually brown, usually after a long baking time; However, this will result in a very dry crumb, giving the pizza a cracker-like texture (which is great if you enjoy cracker style pizzas).

Of course, the above is not set in stone and serves only as a general guideline. The best advice is to experiment with different flours while considering the aforementioned effects, as they can greatly impact the final product. For further information on how to choose a pizza flour, I highly recommend reading the following post: The Ultimate Guide to Pizza Flour – How to Choose the Ideal Flour for Pizza.

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