Tipo “OO” vs. Bread & Pizza Flour – what’s the difference?

flour

At Lighthouse we know that every baking occasion demands flour perfectly suited for its intended purpose.

That’s why we have a HIGH PROTEIN flour for making Bread & Pizza, and a MID PROTEIN flour for making Pasta & Noodles. The mid-protein flour is also known as Tipo “OO” – a term from Italy!

The key point is when making bread and pizza – choose a high protein flour NOT a pasta and noodle flour (Tipo “OO”) – so why the confusion?

The Australians and the Italians use different terms to describe their flours, which can lead to confusion. Here in Australia we’re used to seeing gluten content expressed as a percentage on flour packs whereas the Italians don’t display gluten levels; they use Tipo “O” and Tipo “OO” to describe how finely the flour is milled. Importantly, the gluten levels in Tipo “OO” flour can range from 6% – 12.5%. This is due to the difference in wheat grown in Europe vs. Australia.

It is commonly misunderstood here in Australia that Tipo “OO” is a pizza flour or at least suitable for making pizza dough. The Italians make several Tipo “OO” flours; for pastry (5% – 7% gluten), for pasta and noodles (9% – 9.5%) and pizzas (11.5% – 12.5%).

*IMPORTANT – Most Tipo “OO” flours here in Australia are for pasta and noodles, and do not have high enough gluten (or protein) levels for making great dough.

So why does bread and pizza dough need high protein flour?

Well, great dough comes from using a flour with a protein level of 12%. The high gluten level in the flour gives the dough a good elasticity and robustness. Gluten is the key to great pizza dough; it forms strands which bind together like a web during the mixing and kneading process, air bubbles are trapped in this web and expand during cooking allowing the pizza dough to rise. During baking the stretched gluten becomes rigid as the moisture evaporates from the heat of the oven and sets the dough structure.

The lower the protein level, the lower the gluten level, therefore the dough will be less likely to hold its shape or rise as well.

Interestingly Tipo “OO” also has a lower ash count, i.e. it contains less bran and germ and is a much whiter flour in comparison to a bread and pizza flour. The bran that is contained in the bread and pizza flour contributes to crust colour.

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