Right Flour For Pasta
Cooking fresh and homemade pasta takes time, patience, and a lot of love. If you are going to do it successfully, you need to ensure that you have all the right ingredients to make it as delicious as possible. Flour is one of these ingredients which certainly cannot be overlooked. There are several types of pasta that you can use, and we are going to discuss some of the most common in the following blog post.
The Basics Of Pasta
Before going any further into the different types of flour for your pasta, we need to talk about the basics of making it. Flour is one of the core ingredients, alongside ‘something liquid’. Generally, this is either eggs or water, but some chefs use milk. Essentially, you want to mix the two composite parts together in such a way that you produce a firm dough that can be boiled without falling to pieces. You also don’t want it to all congeal together into a big blob. The firmness of the eventual texture is highly important in your finished pasta product. Obviously, you also need your pasta maker.
High-Protein or ‘Hard’ Pasta
Due to the importance of creating firm pasta, one of the most popular types of flour to choose is one that is both hard and high in protein. When we are talking about wheat flour, this protein is gluten. In higher concentrations, this creates the dual effect of firmness and elasticity. The mixing or kneading is also what has a huge impact on the texture of the dough. Increased mixing makes it both stretchier and firmer. However, if you were to use a softer flour like the ones that are commonly used to make cakes, you are not going to be able to increase the firmness through kneading. This is simply not what they were made for.
Types Of Flour
- Semolina Flour – When you read about the type of flour that is used to make pasta, semolina flour is certainly a name that is bound to come up. Essentially, this is a type of coarse durum wheat flour. Durum is a hard variety of wheat that takes a lot of force to grind it up properly. The protein content of this particular type of flour can rise to as much as 13 percent, which is in direct contrast to general flour which ranges between 8 and 11 percent. The finished product tends to be rougher, which helps it to soak up sauces. You will also see that it has a natural yellow color, which is generally how you can tell that pasta has been made using semolina flour. If you are making extruded pasta such as penne, semolina flour is a great choice.
- All-Purpose And Bread Flour – While it is slightly lower in protein content than semolina flour, you can still achieve a good texture of pasta with more kneading. If you are looking for a more traditional finish, you could combine this with the semolina durum that soft wheat type 00, which we will discuss in a little more detail below. Add in some semolina or type 00 flour if you want to do less kneading and are looking to create a finished product that will be improved in bite, taste, and texture.
- Soft Wheat Type 00 – While this pasta is similar in terms of the protein content to all-purpose and bread flour, it can produce pasta with a nice, smooth texture if this is what you would like. This softer wheat is milled with a grind that is extremely fine. The 00 is based on the Italian grading system. If you are looking to create a smooth texture and soft bite, this is a great option. You also have the option of combining this flour with the semolina flour if you want it to hold the sauce better.
- Cake Or Pastry Flour – Finally, we have cake or pastry flour, which should be avoided as much as possible when it comes to pasta-making. This is because it contains less protein and gluten, and therefore will not create the past density and texture that you are looking for.
What is the Best Flour for Your Homemade Pasta?
There is no one single answer that provides a definitive answer to this question. Essentially, this depends on the texture of the pasta that you are aiming to create, and what you have to hand at home. A range of different flour types can be used such as bread flour, all-purpose flour, and semolina, which we discussed in more detail above. The only variety that you should aim to steer clear of is cake or pastry flour as this does not contain enough protein and gluten to make good-quality pasta. Otherwise, enjoy your pasta-making! There is no doubt that it is a rewarding experience.