Tipo 00 flour is the most used flour in Italy for making pasta at home. It is sometimes combined with finely ground semolina flour, known as durum flour, which is often as hard to find as Tipo 00.
However, the ’00’ (zero, zero) in the name Tipo 00, tells you how fine the flour has been ground. So, there is a great alternative which is available in Walmart and Publix supermarket, to name just two. It’s called Swans Down Cake Flour.
“For over 100 years, bakers have preferred Swans Down Cake Flour. That’s because Swans Down is made from the finest American soft winter wheat and repeatedly sifted so that it’s 27 times finer than all-purpose flour. Swans Down Cake Flour is a pure soft flour that does not contain a leavening agent or salt. It is the perfect flour for all of your special baking needs.”Swansdown.com
All-purpose flour vs Tipo 00
All-purpose flour is made from a blend of different types of wheat, both hard and soft—often durum and red wheat. This allows the producer to get a blend with a specific protein amount that forms a gluten that has more elasticity. What this means for making pizza is a pizza crust made with all-purpose flour will be chewier and this is the same for making pasta.
Tipo “00” is the finest grade of flour milled in Italy, and it has a consistency similar to baby powder, just like Swans Down Cake Flour. There are those who will tell you that it is not a substitute if you are making pizza but for pasta, it is perfect. The caveat is that you must make an EGG PASTA with both Tipo 00 and Swans Down, to arrive at a pasta you will find being made by hand in nearly every Italian home. For a good and sturdy pasta, you can use egg yolks only which will produce pasta with an all-important ‘bite’.
In Italy, Tipo 00 flour has different grades. The one you find in America is an all-purpose grade. For making pizza or bread, Italians will choose a Tipo 00 with a particular protein percentage. We won’t go into that now but I have it very good authority from an Italian pizza maker that I once worked with. Just take a look at the image below.
Every mill in Italy makes several different kinds of type 00, as flour in this category can be as just soft wheat, or blended with some hard wheat.
The protein may range up to 11 % for the ones with some hard wheat flour blended in, but not much higher. Consequently, at bakeries these flours are often blended with stronger yet flours for bread making. And to be clear, the ’00’ does not refer to the protein content, it refers to the size of the ground.
For a more fuller explanation of Italian flours, please refer to this article by Cooks Info, which is very indepth.