Flour - F.a.q. - Molino Bertolo Food Academy

The Professionals Molino Bertolo Food Academy Respond

Is the Flour Produced by Molino Bertolo Made from One Wheat or More than One?

By using the advanced technology we have available to us in the mill, we at Molino Bertolo study the characteristics of each type of wheat, and then blend and mix different wheat types in order to obtain the best possible flour blends for specific products.
There are a great many varieties of soft wheats:

  • rich in protein, ideal for slow rising, for example for Panettoni, traditional Easter cake and croissants.
  • with a more friable structure, so more suitable for short pastry.
  • with the capacity to absorb water during kneading, which is important for yield and shelf life.

Each of our professional flours must meet the very precise requirements of the professionals who are our clients. To meet these needs, Molino Bertolo has a variety of professional flours for bread-making, pizza bases, cake making and fresh pasta.

What is Meant by Flour Strength?

Flour strength is its capacity to absorb water during kneading and withhold carbon dioxide when left to rise. Flour is described as strong when it absorbs a large quantity of water to produce even, soft dough. The dough achieved using strong flour is dry, elastic and not sticky, and the resulting gluten structure means it has greater ability to hold in carbon dioxide. Generally, doughs made using strong flour are capable of rising for longer, creating end products which have good volume and a soft, spongy texture.
Flour strength depends mainly on the quantity and quality of the gluten present; the higher the gluten content of the flour, the stronger the flour is.

What Influences Flour Strength?

Flour strength depends mainly on the quantity and quality of gluten. But it is also influenced by the starch content, and how readily the starch can be converted into sugars by the amylase enzymes and thus rendered accessible to the yeasts.
If the starch particles are more crushed up during milling, they will be more easily attacked and converted by the enzymes.
Water is also more readily absorbed, because crushed starch particles absorb water more readily. Amylase enzymes break down the glucose bonds in the starch molecule; two types exist: alpha and beta amylase. Both are useful during the fermentation process of the dough and must be moderately active. If a flour has been produced using wheat germinated or stored in a humid environment, the enzymes it contains are very active. This flour will have high fermentation sugar values, which make it unsuitable for bread-making, because it makes dough which is very sticky and the bread produced will be of poor quality. If the starch can easily be converted into sugars, and the amylase is very active, the flour will have low strength, because it will not absorb much water. So flour absorbs water more readily, and therefore is stronger, when it possesses a sufficient, but not too high, quantity of crushed starch, and the amylase activity is moderate.

Is it Better to Have High Protein “Strong” Flours?

One flour can be considered better than another only if its characteristics are better for making the actual item that you wish to produce. A flour with low protein content is certainly more suitable for making biscuits and short pastry, while high protein content ensures the dough rises longer, and is more suitable for panettoni and croissants.

What Flour is Best for Making Pizzas?

If the dough needs to rise quickly, in order to be ready in the shortest time possible, the flour must be strong, meaning it must have a high protein content. If the dough can be left to rest for several hours or days by using a cooling cabinet, you can still use a strong flour to achieve the best results in terms of smell and taste.
The choice of the best flour depends on the preparation method chosen by the professional and the end product they wish to produce.

What’s the Difference Between "0" Grade and "00" Grade Flour?

Under Italian Law, flours are classified according to their ash content (a sample of flour is incinerated and the resulting residue measured and shown as a percentage of the original sample). This is directly connected to the level of fibre present, which is most present in bran.
The finest and whitest flours, which are sifted more and which have lower ash content, are classified "00". They come from the more central part of the kernel, provide better yeast growth and gluten development, but have less protein than types 1 or 2.
The difference between "0" and "00" flours is minimal; the permitted ash content level for "0" flour must be between 0.55% and 0.65%, while for "00" flour it must be between 0.45% and 0.55%.
Generally speaking, a flour which contains some fibre is preferable so "0" flour is preferred. But for some foodstuffs, for example fresh pasta which mustn’t have any specks, it is essential that the flour used is as pure as possible, and so the lower ash content of "00" flour is preferable.

What do the Indices W and P/L Mean When Referring to Flour?

W and P/L are values expressed by a laboratory test using a Chopin Alveograph. A small sample of flour and water is prepared and placed over a small aperture through which air is blown. The mixture inflates and forms a small bubble. The force needed to inflate the bubble is measured and recorded as a graph on paper or on a computer screen: W is the area under the resulting curve, while P/L is the ratio between the base and the height of the curve. The stronger a flour is the greater the force required and the greater the area under the curve (greater value of W). Similarly, the lower the P/L ratio is, the more elastic the flour is and vice versa.

How Does Gluten Form?

The protein in the flour, which is insoluble in water and saline solutions, forms an elastic and spongy structure during kneading, called gluten. This serves to give the dough its structure.

What’s the Difference Between the Direct and Indirect Method?

Direct and indirect method concerns the dough and the process of mixing the ingredients together. This is generally carried out in the kneading machine, but can also be done by hand.
In the direct method all the ingredients are kneaded together at one time, to form a mixture which is not yet perfectly homogeneous. The dough then needs to rest for between 3 and 5 minutes, which enables complete hydration and formation of the gluten. An operator must check the characteristics of the dough. At the end of the rest period, kneading starts again and the dough is finished.
The indirect method has two kneading phases. The first procedure is to prepare the biga, which is a pre-ferment dough made from flour, water, yeast and offcuts, fermented for a long period. This biga pasta is then mixed in with the prepared dough and kneaded as normal.

What is a “Fermabiga”?

A fermabiga is a temperature control unit used by professionals. The bigas (a type of pre-ferment dough used in Italian baking) are placed in this special refrigeration unit to prevent excessive fermentation.

What is a Leavening Control Cabinet?

This is an operation carried out by professionals which enables the fermentation to be slowed by using a cooling cabinet.

What is Autolysis?

This is a breadmaking technique where a quantity of water and flour are mixed together and left to rest for around 30 minutes. This is then used to complete the dough. This process of pre-hydration allows for better links between gluten and starches. Autolysis in breadmaking improves how the dough rises, as well as its softness and volume, and ultimately reduces kneading time as the dough becomes smoother.

What is a Brabender Farinograph?

This is an instrument used for measuring the shear and viscosity of the flour, which indicates its resistance to deformation, elasticity and extensibility.
Other useful information can also be obtained: the flour’s capacity to absorb water (the greater the water absorption, the stronger the flour is), dough development (weak flours have shorter development times, while strong flours are slower), dough stability time (doughs with good stability times can endure more vigorous working and longer fermentation times), departure time (which shows how long it takes before the dough starts to break down and is an indicator of dough consistency).

What is a Brabender Extensograph?

This is an instrument which determines the resistance and extensibility of a dough by measuring the force required to stretch the dough with a hook until it breaks. It provides information on the behaviour of the dough as it rises and reflects the pressure of carbon dioxide within it. If the flour is too resistant it is more difficult to work. The final product may be poorly developed and with a compact crumb structure. If the dough has too much elasticity the end product is likely to have a lower volume.

What is a Chopin Alveograph?

This tool measures the deformation of the dough as it rises due to the effect of the carbon dioxide produced by the yeasts. Flour strength cannot be the same for all products.