Italian Deli Online, which imports a selection of high quality Italian flours, has put together this guide to understanding which Italian flours are best for pizzas, pastas, cakes and breads.

There’s more to choosing an Italian flour than just deciding between Tipo 0 and 00, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s what you need to know to cut through the confusion of too much contradictory information online.

Grades of flour

All that the ‘Tipo 0’ and ‘00’ indicate is how finely the flour is milled. 00 or doppio zero is the finest, even finer than South African cake flour, so is good when you want a silky smooth and light finish. Tipo 0 or zero is a medium-milled all-purpose flour. Semolato, a golden flour from durum wheat can be a coarse or fine grind.

Levels of protein

What determines the best type of flour for different uses is the amount of protein or gluten per 100g. This varies according to the type of wheat. Hard wheats have more protein (12g per 100g or more), soft wheats have less (11g or less per 100g). The gluten develops on working the dough, which is needed for example to give the elasticity needed for bread dough to rise and hold its shape.

Dallari flours

The Italian Dallari flour brand imported to South Africa by Italian Deli Online makes things easy by assigning an ideal use on the label and a different colour bag for each flour. The label is of course in Italian. You’ll recognise pizza easily enough, it’s the same in both languages, but read on for what pasta sfoglia is, and more suggestions of which flours to use for which recipes.

Best Italian flour for pizza

For light crisp pizzas, a 00 flour that is fairly high in protein is ideal. The Dallari 00 flour in a red bag is designed especially for pizza with enough gluten development for a strong and elastic dough that can also support a slow rise when required. The Dallari 0 flour in a green bag is a useful all-purpose flour that can be used for pizza, with a slightly lower protein content and less finely milled texture.

Best Italian flours for pasta

For pasta there is not a one-size-fits-all flour, it all depends on the type of pasta you’re making. These are best choices from the Dallari selection at Italian Deli Online.

  • For silky soft egg pasta dough that is easy to hand roll and stretch into very thin sheets (the pasta sfoglia of Italy’s Emilia Romagna region) a 00 flour that is fairly low in protein is great, such as the Dallari 00 flour in  the blue bag.
  • For fine egg pasta dough that holds its shape well during cooking (and when you have a pasta machine to do the rolling, as the gluten elasticity makes it harder to roll very thin by hand,) a higher protein 00 flour such as the Dallari pizza flour works well.
  • High protein semolato durum wheat flour is what Italian factory-made dry pastas such as spaghetti and penne are made from. Dallari semolato flour is ideal for eggless / vegan pasta dough or pasta bianca, coming together nicely without needing the egg to bind it, and the rustic texture holds thick sauces well.
  • You can use varying combinations of these flours to get a flour mix that works best for your pasta-making preferences.

Best Italian flour for cakes and pastry

For light and fluffy cakes, crisp flaky pastry and melt in the mouth biscuits, a low protein and very fine flour is what you’re after. The Dallari 00 blue bag is the best choice for pasticceria and home baking of cakes and desserts. Pasta sfoglia also translates as puff pastry and this fine flour is ideal for that too.

Best Italian flours for breads

Soft breads and flatbreads with a quick rise work well with a medium protein flour such as the all-purpose Dallari 0 in the green bag. For anything that requires a longer, stronger rise go for the Dallari pizza flour. Or try combining one of these flours with the semolato flour for a more rustic-style loaf.