Using a specific type of flour for your homemade pasta can be both a hit or miss, it really depends on what type of flour that you use. The dough of your pasta is essential for the taste and flavour of your pasta, which makes choosing the right flour even more important. With multiple types of flour out there, choosing the wrong one might mess up the taste of your pasta. There are a few types of flour that are perfect for making homemade pasta, and after reading this post you will know exactly what flour you is most suited for homemade pasta.
As this will become quite a long guide about choosing the best pasta flour, I will will divide this guide in several paragraphs. I will begin by explaining what types of flour are available on the market and what types of flour can be used best to make fresh homemade pasta. I will also show several brands of pasta flour that I have used over the years that have proven to be perfect for making pasta. This guide is perfect for those that are making pasta by hand, as well as those that are using a pasta maker.
Pasta Flour Buyer's Cheatsheet
In this little table below you can quickly see what type of flour is best for you when you are shopping for pasta flour. You are also free to read on and start to understand more about the basics of flour and how you can use this knowledge when making pasta.
|Milled to the fineness of type 00 flour. Perfect if you want to make smooth pasta. If you want a rougher texture to hold sauces better, mix it 50/50 with all-purpose flour.||Buy Now|
|This flour has a high amount of protein, and should be mixed 50/50 with all-purpose flour. Without mixing it, it's perfect for pizza. Two birds, one stone?||Buy Now|
|My favorite when making homemade pasta. This flour has a beautiful golden color and produces a pasta with the right texture since it has the perfect protein amount. Perfect for standard pasta.||Buy Now|
Different types of pasta flour
There are two different types of flour that are most commonly used when making homemade pasta. The first type is semolina flour, which can be found in most pantries at home. This is an all-purpose flour most people use for a lot of things. Semolina flour is the way to go when you are making pasta at home, but there are a few things you need to know about it first. Before you continue making your own pasta, you have know that there are different types of semolina flour. Don’t worry, I got you covered here.
Double Zero or 00 Flour
Americans categorise their flour in a different way than the Italians. Americans tend to sort the flour by their intended purpose, take bread flour or pastry flour as an example.
Italy has come up with a classification of flour types, based on the fineness of the grind. Italy has classified their flour in three different types: 1, 0 or 00. These numbers indicate how fine or coarse the flour has been grinded. Where type 1 is a very coarse kind of flour, type 00 or “double zero flour” is grinded into a more fine kind of flour. Type 0 flour can be best compared with all-purpose flour, and is between the coarse grind of type 1 and the finer grind of the type 00 flour.
You might ask “Why is it important that I use type 1 or type 00 flour for my pasta?”. The answer is that there will be quite a taste difference when you use type 00 flour for your pasta in comparison to using type 1. Another reason that you should choose double zero flour is that the flour contains a high amount of protein and enough gluten to help the development of the dough’s plasticity and elasticity when it is being molded into your pasta dough. More about that in the paragraph about protein and gluten.
Does this mean that buying 00 flour for your pasta will automatically settle for the best flour for pasta? Sadly, the answer is no. While I recommend that most of the time you should definitely choose type 00 flour when you are making pasta at home, just because a label says the flour is type 00 this will not mean that this is the perfect flour for pasta. As mentioned before, the type 00 indicates the fineness of the flour. Other properties of the flour play vital roles in its usefulness, such as the percentage of protein and the gluten strength. Luckily there are different vendors that produce and sell type 00 flour with the right amount of gluten strength and protein percentages that are considered as the best when making fresh pasta. In another section of this guide, you will find a more in-depth explanation of protein and gluten strength in flour.
What is Semolina Flour
As I have explained before, semolina is most commonly used as all-purpose flour. Semolina can be recognized by its distinctive yellow color, which comes from the endosperm of durum wheat. In general semolina flour consists of 12-13 percent protein and has a low elasticity and higher plasticity than most flour that is used for pasta. This makes semolina flour a great choice when making extruded pasta such as penne, as the shape of your pasta will not start to change as soon as it has been extruded.
For this same reason semolina flour is most commonly used in dried pasta, as it is important that they will retain their shape.
What is the best pasta flour?
There isn’t a straightforward answer for this, as different situations may call for different types of flour. However, as a thumb rule I advise that if you going to make pasta is that you choose type 00 (or double zero) flour that is intended for pasta. This last bit is very important, as not every type 00 flour is perfect for making pasta. Not every double zero flour contains the same amount of protein that is needed for making pasta. Certain types of flour that get produced with the intention of making pasta with it contain the best composition of proteins and gluten so your pasta dough will be both malleable and will retain its form once it has been shaped into pasta.
Where to buy 00 flour for pasta?
I am sure that not all of my readers live in the same village or city, and it will be hard to appoint a local store that sells exactly what you are looking for. Since it is the age of technology and the internet, it will be a lot easier to show you where you can buy your pasta flour online. I typically buy a type of 00 flour when I am shopping for pasta flour. There are three different brands that I usually go for, and albeit these flours are generally the same, there are some minor differences. But don’t worry, all three of these pasta flours will make delicious homemade pasta.
You will be able find all of these brands directly on Amazon, or you can try to find them in a store close to you. All three brands are quite common and also sell a collection of other types of flour. Since I haven’t explored homemade bread etcetera I don’t know the quality of their other types of flour, but I can definitely recommend their type 00 pasta flour.
In the table at the start of the page you can find the three types of flour that I most commonly use when making fresh homemade pasta. These are the three best types of flour for homemade pasta that I have come across. I also give a quick explanation what flour is most suited for different types of pasta and textures, as this depends on the flour as well.
Best Flour for Vegan Pasta (Eggless)
I have quite a few friends that actually love pasta, but had to stop eating store-bought pasta since all the dried pasta contains eggs, which is a no-go for them. Store-bought vegan pasta is a lot more expensive than standard pasta since eggless pasta gets produced on a way smaller scale.
Making vegan pasta at home isn’t difficult at all, and there are even specific flour types that are best suited for making vegan pasta. When making regular pasta you use eggs and a finer flour, since the eggs will ensure that the flour will bind together.
When you make eggless pasta, you want to use a more coarse grinded type of flour for your pasta, since you use water instead of eggs. The water isn’t a strong enough binding agent for the fine type 00 flour so want to use a flour that is made from a more coarse grind.
All-purpose flour does the job for vegan pasta dough just fine, but if you want something better I suggest using semolina flour, which does the job of holding the water and flour together perfectly. I have experimented with combining all-purpose and semolina flour for homemade vegan pasta, and this works great if you use a 50/50 distribution.
Protein and gluten in pasta flour
Protein and gluten play a vital role in the way that the flour can be used. Knowing more about these two components will give you a deeper knowledge about flour in general, not just when it comes to choosing the perfect combination for pasta flour. In the following paragraphs you will get to understand the way protein and gluten have an have an influence on the way you can use the flour.
Pasta Flour - Elasticity and Plasticity
These are the two basic principles that you have to understand: elasticity and plasticity. The gluten in pasta flour has two properties, it is both elastic and plastic. When the dough is elastic this means that the dough can be stretched and that it will bounce back into, making is easier to knead. Plasticity means that the dough can be molded into a shape and that it stays put.
The right combination of plasticity and elasticity will is the key to perfect pasta dough. This is achieved by having the right amount of protein and gluten in your flour. It will be easy to knead, will roll smoothly through your pasta roller without breaking apart. To achieve this however, you don’t just need the right combination of gluten and protein; you also need to knead the dough long enough so the dough can develop a strong gluten network.
The importance of Protein and Gluten
Why is protein such an important component of flour? For one, the higher the amount and quality of the protein is in the flour, the stronger the gluten network will become. A stronger gluten network will result in a more sturdy dough. For pasta, you don’t want the same sturdiness of your dough as you would want it from a bread. For this reason, you want the right quality and quantity of protein in your flour.
The smaller the amount of protein is present in the flour, the softer the dough will be. A good example are fluffy cakes that are made with flour that possess very little protein in comparison to other types of flour. If there is more protein in flour, the dough will be harder and “stronger”, which is great if you want to achieve a more chewy product.
If you are interested in learning more about the core elements of flour, I can recommend reading the book ‘Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi and Risotto’ by Marc Vetri (Amazon). In this book Vetri clearly explains the concept of the protein and gluten in flour, which is more than just a basis for making pasta; it will come in handy a lot of times in the kitchen. This book has taught me to utilise flour on a whole different level than I did before, and if you are keen on making the most out of your handmade pasta, this is one of the books you should definitely beside your other cookbooks.
So do I NEED special flour for my pasta?
Short answer: no, you don’t need a specific kind of type 00 flour that has been grinded to a certain fineness under the seventh full moon of the year (let’s hope that this doesn’t exist). You can make very tasty pasta with all-purpose flour that you can probably grab out of your pantry right now. However, this doesn’t mean that you should always stick with all-purpose flour.
Once you start experimenting with different types of flour you will understand that pasta made from different types of flour can be very different from each other. You can make very smooth pasta with type 00 flour or pasta with a more coarse texture when you use a flour made from a more coarse grind. When preparing some pasta recipes, pasta with a more coarse texture can be a good thing, as the sauce will stick on the pasta a lot easier.
Personally I tend to stick to type 00 flour as I prefer the smooth texture on my pasta, but there have been enough occasions where type 00 flour wasn’t anywhere to be found in my pantries. When you are just starting out with making homemade pasta, you should look for a type 00 flour with the right amount of protein. Use my quick pasta flour buyer's guide if you want to make it as easy as possible for yourself.