How to use and select flours: practical guide
Flour is the basic ingredient for preparing any baked product.
Of the ancient mills located near the rivers where the grinding of cereals, which grew in the nearby fields, was obtained with the flow of water, almost nothing remains. Today, modern mills are at the forefront especially in terms of safety and hygiene. Many checks are carried out on the grains at the entrance and on the flours at the exit.
In this article I do not want to touch on the topic "glyphosate" and its effects, it has been talked about a lot, and everyone has drawn their own conclusions. I would simply like to talk about flours and their use.
Soft wheat wheat flour
It is the most used in the kitchen. We make biscuits, cakes, breadsticks, bread, pizza. Its use is distinguished by the degree of sifting and its strength. After grinding the flours come out “whole”, that is, they have the bran, the germ and also the foreign parts that are deposited on the ear. The sifter is a large sieve with different gradations, after removing the foreign parts, the flour is sieved to create the 5 types: wholemeal-2-1-0-00. Proceeding step by step, 00 is the most refined, having fewer inside parts.
The strength of the flours, also called the bread-making factor, is linked to the protein content, in particular GLIADINE and GLUTENIN, which together make up gluten, and this factor is classified with the letter W. A strong flour has the ability to form more gluten and we will use it to give our cake or bread a softer and well developed crumb; we think of panettone, brioche, but also of puffed croissants which must have a good airflow and a soft interior. When we go to buy flours at the supermarket we hardly find the degree of strength on the package, but as I said before the strength is linked to the amount of protein, I leave you a scheme that you can associate with the type of product we want to make:
WEAK FLOURS up to 170 W: protein 9% - 10.5% to make biscuits, breadsticks, shortcrust pastry, cakes.
MEDIUM FLOURS from 180 W to 260 W: 11% - 12.5% proteins to make bread, pizza, pasta.
STRONG FLOURS from 270 W to 350 W: 13% proteins to make brioches, leavened pastries, sweets or long leavening breads.
SPECIAL FLOURS over 350 W: 13.5% - 15% proteins to make large sweet and savory leavened products, such as panettone, colombe, puffed rosettes.
Up to now we have established that when we go to buy flour we must first ask ourselves what we will need (bread, pizza, shortcrust pastry, etc.), check the percentages shown on the package and buy the right one, because a wrong flour can change a lot the result.
Durum wheat flour or semolina
The “semolina” is obtained from the grinding of durum wheat, which has a more marked grain size than soft wheat flour and an amber yellow color. Passing it to further grinding we obtain the "re-milled semolina".
Durum wheat flour has a high content of fiber, mineral salts, vitamins and the color is due to the presence of "carotenoid" pigments, such as LUTEIN and B-CAROTENE, which are important for the prevention of cellular aging and some cancers . Unlike soft wheat flour, it has a little extensible gluten and is therefore not suitable for long leavening.
Durum wheat grows well in areas of southern Italy, due to its sunny climate, in fact those are the areas of origin of the characteristic breads made with semolina; the Altamura bread and the Matera cornetto. But not only for bread making are these semolina suitable, but also for the splendid result obtained when preparing pasta with them that imprisons sauces and sauces with its roughness.
Among the durum grains we find the “Senatore Cappelli”: an ancient and autochthonous grain, even if in reality the species was born in 1923, by the agricultural geneticist Nazareno Strampelli. The agronomist made experiments on his lands in the Foggia area, crossing various Italian and North African grains. He gave this name to the species obtained, paying homage to the then Senator Raffaele Cappelli.
Sources: The great book of bread, by P. Giorilli and E. Lipetskaia