Recently, a friend of mine called me with a question about flour. His question was, “What do the zeros and double zeros in flour mean?”
This surprised me a little bit because he is used to going on the internet and looking up all kinds of information.
However, he did not ask me about baking. I have worked in the flour business all my life and I gave him this answer.
In different countries, flours are classified according to their gluten content. Canadian flours, such as aashirvaad atta, contain a very high percentage of gluten, about 17%. In addition, flours are milled differently, so their texture can be plain or fine.
So I linked ordinary milling to zero score, and even finer milling to double zero score.
That’s not too far from the right answer.
As you can see, the grouping of flours is different than in the UK or Canada, for example. Flours can be high or low in gluten. The number 0 refers to the level of grinding, and just as coffee beans can be ground very fine, medium or very fine, so can flour.
When searching for flour on the internet, you can get confused because high and low gluten flours can have two numbers. So it’s best to decide what you’re going to use the flour for first.
If you intend to bake bread, you need a high enough gluten content so that the dough can rise well and make good slices of bread.
If you intend to make bread, you certainly don’t need a high gluten content in the flour, as you’d be concerned that the dough would be too stiff. Depending on the type of bread you want to make, you can use this flour to make the right kind of bread.
In fact, some of my breads, like my Ocaccia bread, contain both breadcrumbs and flour. It’s a flat, fluffy bread, but it rises well and is generally quite strong, and it tastes good.
Similarly, if you intend to make a cake, gluten in the flour is not necessary, as aeration or leavening is achieved by adding stabilizers such as eggs, baking powder or baking soda. Of course, the cake should also taste moist, depending on whether or not a lot of fruit was added.
However, some baked goods are a combination of two or three of the flours I mentioned above. In fact, supermarket flours are often used at home, while many homemade recipes use wholemeal flour or flour from a bread machine.
In supermarkets, you can also find what is called self-mixing flour!
This is usually a mixture of flour with some sort of aerator and low quality flour.
In the past, I have used another type of flour in my bread machine called baking flour. It is very similar to self-rising flour.
Flours and their quality play a very important role in the preparation of your product. You certainly don’t want to use flour to make pizza bread.