As I was planning to make pizza yesterday, I remembered I was out of 00 flour. It’s an Italian flour I use for practically all of my pizza dough, so I found myself in a difficult situation. On the one hand, I was craving a good pizza. On the other, I knew I was missing a key ingredient.
So I opened my laptop and fell down the rabbit hole of the Internet, looking for good substitutes for 00 flour.
Apart from the fact that I completely lost track of time and the wife and ended up eating dinner at 11:20 P.M., here’s what I found.
What’s the best substitute for 00 flour?
00 flour is the finest Italian flour. It has an ash content of 0.55% and a gluten content of 9% or higher. The best substitutes for 00 flour are pastry flour for desserts and pastries, and all-purpose flour for loves of bread, pizza pies, and fresh pasta.
Make sure to use high-quality unbleached flour from a reputable mill. To check out my best recommendations, scroll down to the bottom of this post.
As a rule of thumb, the finer the flour, the more tender the dough (and the coarser the flour, the chewier the dough).
This is why thin-crust Neapolitan pizza is best made with 00 flour, the finest flour that pizzaiolos (pizza chefs) use in Italy.
This is also why artisan pasta makers prefer semolina, a coarser and higher-gluten flour made from hard wheat, for fresh pasta dough.
Here’s how 00 flour (and the three other types of Italian soft-wheat flour) compare to the most common flour types found in the U.S., Germany, and France:
|Italian Flour Type||Ash Content||Protein Content||U.S. Substitute||German Substitute||French Substitute|
|Type 00||Below 0.55%||At least 7%||Pastry flour||Type 405||Type 45|
|Type 0||Below 0.65%||At least 11%||All-purpose flour||Type 550||Type 55|
|Type 1||Below 0.80%||At least 12%||High-gluten flour||Type 812||Type 80|
|Type 2||Below 0.95%||At least 12%||First clear flour||Type 1050||Type 110|
In this post, I’m going to show you what these flour types mean, how they are determined, and why this matters for your home baking and cooking. So keep on reading if I’ve got you curious.
The Types of Italian Flour, Explained
Flour is made by finely grinding down, or milling, dried wheat grains. Milling separates the different parts of the wheat kernel (the germ, bran, and endosperm).
Italy, like most European countries, classifies its flours into types based on how much they have been milled. These types are determined by the ash content of the flour, or the trace amount of minerals it contains after milling.
The more flour is milled, the finer it comes out. The germ, bran, and endosperm of the wheat get removed, which results in a lower ash content as the minerals are contained in them.
The four types of Italian milled flour are regulated by local law and determined as Type 00, 0, 1, and 2.
Here’s how they compare to one another:
Type 00 flour (“Tipo 00” or “Tipo Doppio Zero” in Italian) has an ash content below 0.55% and a protein content of 7-11%. It’s the finest and whitest soft-wheat flour sold in Italy. It’s traditionally used for Neapolitan pizza and fresh pasta.
Type 0 flour (“Tipo 0” or “Tipo Zero” in Italian) has an ash content below 0.65% and a protein content of at least 11%. It’s mostly used for making commercial bread loaves, biscuits, sweet and savory pastry, and shortcut pastry.
Type 1 flour (“Tipo 1” or “Tipo Uno” in Italian) has an ash content below 0.80% and a protein content of at least 12%. It’s less sifted than Type 0 and Type 00 flour and typically used for making rustic bread loaves and coarser pizza doughs.
Type 2 flour (“Tipo 2” or “Tipo Due” in Italian) has an ash content below 0.95% and a protein content of at least 12%. This is one of the coarsest Italian soft-wheat flours, sometimes called “semi-wholemeal” flour. It’s normally used for crackers, breadsticks, and homemade bread.
Why Are There Different Types of Flour?
In general, flour can be made from two types of wheat: hard wheat and soft wheat.
Hard wheat has a dark brown color and is high in protein content (typically 15%). Soft wheat is usually white and low in protein (typically 9-12%).
In Europe, locally-grown hard wheat that’s fairly low in protein content (9-12%) is typically used to make bread. By milling the flour longer, it’s made white, finer, and stronger.
Strong flour contains more gluten than other types of flour. The gluten gives it its elasticity and allows the dough to rise with a good structure.
To determine how much flour has been milled, most European countries measure ash content.
The “ash content” is the trace amount of ash (or minerals) left after the flour has been milled—and a sample of it has been burned off.
Some call the ash content of a flour sample the “mineral content” because it indicates the amount of minerals contained in it. Minerals are non-combustible. This is why, when you burn off a sample of flour, only the mineral ash remains.
Ash content is expressed as the percentage (%) of the original flour sample’s weight. Each European country has a different grading system that uses a different sample weight, typically 100 g (3.5 oz) or 10 g (0.35 oz).
What does the ash content tell you about a type of flour?
The lower the ash content, the whiter and purer (more refined) the flour. The higher the ash content, the darker and coarser (less refined) the flour.
German flour types describe the ash content of a 100 g (3.5 oz) flour sample. The standard German flour types range from Type 405 for the finest flour to Type 1050 for the coarsest flour.
French flour types indicate the ash content of a 10 g (0.35 oz) flour sample. Standard French flour types range from Type 45 for the finest flour to Type 110 for the coarsest flour.
Italian flours are graded using the same process as their German and French counterparts, but they carry slightly different names: Type 00, Type 0, Type 1, and Type 2 flour.
There are no standardized flour types in the U.S. Manufacturers aren’t required by the FDA to print the ash content on the labels of their flours—and, in reality, they rarely do.
To compare American with European flour, check their protein content. For example, Italian 00 flour has a protein content of 9%. In terms of protein content, its closest American substitute is pastry flour.
What’s the Best 00 Flour?
Antimo Caputo is the best 00 flour you can buy in the United States. Use for making thin-crust pizza, fresh pasta, tender loaves of bread, and delicate pastry at home. Ask for it in the Italian deli or market in town, or shop for it in bulk at Amazon.
Which flour did you substitute for 00 flour? Did it work out well for you? Share your experience with me—and the rest of this post’s readers—by leaving a comment below.