The prime characteristics of Caputo 00 flour in relation to your typical American flour are high quality gluten, low ash content, low level of damaged starch and lower enzyme activity. Most of its behavior can be explained according to those relative physical attributes.
David can you expand on the as well in layman's terms? Does it fall in line with what I showed here or is what I've done pushing the bounds of the flour?
I know how interested you are in learning about many of the technical aspects of flours, and in this case, the Caputo 00 flour, so I thought I would take a stab at trying to demystify some of the things that Dave Deas wrote on the salient characteristics of the Caputo 00 flour, including starch damage, gluten quality and ash. So, here goes.
Damaged Starch. Generally speaking, Italian 00 flour made from Italian wheat grains have less starch damage than our domestic flours. What is damaged starch and why is it important? Damaged starch usually occurs during the milling process, during which there is actual damage to the starch component of the flour (starch constitutes around 70% of the total flour). Damaged starch can also occur if a crop is harvested at less than the optimum time, for example, during wet conditions where sprouting can occur before the grains are milled. The reason why damaged starch is important is because there are natural enzymes in the flour that attack the damaged starch in order to convert the starch to sugars for the yeast to use as food, and for other purposes (such as increased crust coloration through increase levels of residual sugar). Damaged starch can absorb three times the amount of water that undamaged starch can absorb; a particle of undamaged starch will only retain water at its periphery, not inside the particle of starch itself. Consequently, the damages starch is the preferred substrate for the enzymes to perform their function. The enzymes will continue to perform their function until they are destroyed. This occurs during the baking process.
Because the 00 flour has lower enzyme performance than other flours, that limits how the flour can be used. Marco (pizzanapoletana) has always contended that the 00 flour is best for an ambient temperature fermentation. Enzymes work better at higher temperatures, so the conversion processes and fermentation can take place faster in an ambient temperature environment. He has also noted that the enzymes will also work faster when the dough has a high hydration.
It is theoretically possible to use 00 flour in a cold fermentation application, but it may take a lot longer to reach the same stage in the fermentation cycle. One might try to speed up that process in several ways. First, one might add additional enzymes (alpha-amylase) in the form of barley malt. However, that might just direct more enzymes to the existing damaged starch and, as a result, only make the dough overly slack. One can also try to increase the amount of the damaged starch. This can be done by physically damaging the starch, as by running the flour at high speed through a machine like a food processor. Tom Lehmann told me that there were commercial machines that could do that, but he suggested that I damage the starch by boiling some of the flour in water. See, for example, Reply 99 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7225.msg78968/topicseen.html#msg78968
, and also some of the posts that followed. I think you can see that there isnít a lot of enthusiasm on the part of end users of 00 flour to mess around with that flour in order to increase its starch damage.
Falling Number. Related to the above discussion, the degree of enzymatic performance of a flour is often represented by a Falling Number. A flour with low enzymatic performance can have a high value, and visa versa. For example, the Caputo 00 flour, which is unmalted, has a falling number of 340-460. By contrast, a basic malted all-purpose flour in the U.S. can have a falling number of around 225-275 (see, for example, http://www.generalmillscf.com/services/productpdf.ashx?pid=14317000
). If you would like to read how falling numbers are measured, see http://www.wheatflourbook.org/p.aspx?tabid=67
Gluten. There are two aspects of gluten. One is quantitative and the other is qualitative. First, the quantitative aspect. Different types of flour, even the same amount of flour with the same protein content, can contain different amounts of gluten. You can see this from the list of gluten mass values that is presented at Reply 50 at http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,18075.msg177835.html#msg177835
. That list was created over the past month or so as a result of gluten mass tests that Norma and I conducted (about 95% by Norma) for several different types and brands of flour. The dough balls used in the tests were all 9 ounces, with 6 ounces being the flour and the remaining 3 ounces being water. As you can see from that list, the Caputo 00 flour rates quite high on a quantitative basis in relation to other flours, such as all-purpose flours with which it is often compared. But gluten quantity does not tell you anything about gluten quality. The way that gluten quality is measured is to take a sample of gluten and to use what is called a Glutomatic machine. The sample is centrifuged onto a sieve. In some cases, all of the gluten can make it through the sieve, or perhaps none of it makes it through the sieve. The amount of the gluten on the sieve in relation to the total amount of gluten is called the gluten index, and is a measure of gluten quality. The value is 0 when all of the gluten passes through the sieve and 100 when none of it passes through the sieve. I suspect that most gluten samples fall somewhere between 0 and 100. I did a search to see if I could find a gluten index value for the Caputo 00 flour but could not find anything on the subject. All I know is that Marco often said that the Caputo gluten was a high quality gluten.
If you would like to read more on the subject of gluten quality, see http://www.wheatflourbook.org/p.aspx?tabid=68
Ash. For a discussion of the significance of flour ash content and how it is measured, see http://www.wheatflourbook.org/p.aspx?tabid=27
. Generally speaking, a flour with a high ash content will have more color and flavor than a flour with a low ash content. The value of ash for the Caputo 00 flour is 0.50 +/- 0.05. For comparison purposes, the King Arthur all-purpose flour has an ash value of 0.48, and the King Arthur bread flour has an ash value of 0.48. It is only when you get to the King Arthur Sir Lancelot flour that the ash value exceeds 0.50. For the KASl, it is 0.52. So, on this basis, I would say that the Caputo 00 flour scores quite well.