How to Read an Italian Flour Label
The Italian method for describing bread is very different from how we do it in the states. Tipo 00, Tipo 0, etc. describes primarily how finely milled the flour is, maximum ash content, etc. There some minimum glutin level, which doesn't tell you anything. They use the "W" scale to describe the strength of the flour -- how hard it is to work, how elastic it is, how long it takes to rise, etc. For example, a W of 170 is for cookies and pastry, 180-260 is for bread and some pizza (55%-65% hydration), 280-350 is for egg pasta, and some breads (65%-75% hydration).
Tipo 00 is the highest standard, the finest milled and the lowest ash content. The Tipo 00 you find in a market, unless it specifically says "for pizza" or "special" has a W of between 150-200 -- very low, very light. To make pizza or bread, you are supposed to mix the light flour with a very high W specialty flour to get the strength you want.
That's why buying Italian flour can be a challenge.
The nice thing about the specific Caputo flour that we get is that it is pre-blended for pizza, so you don't have to do any mixing. It's also good for focaccia and light bread, like Ciabatta.
Caputo makes a whole product line of flours, but we only get the pizza flour here in the states. That is their specialty, and what they are so well-known for.
There is a good description in Wikipedia. It's in Italian, but you get the drift pretty easily.
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