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Understanding Zero Zero Flour

Ha! Zero Zero flour!

Both a blessing and a course.

I should be happy to see so much chit chat about something so dear to me, something that comes from my country, something I handled for the first time around forty year ago. I "should" be happy...Truth is, most of the time the chit chat upsets me because my BS-o-meter goes boom 😜

Everybody talks about it (well, at least everybody who's into pizza making) but honestly I feel that there's more talk than actual knowledge out there.

So, without further ado, and especially without bragging anymore, let me dive in!

What is Zero Zero flour, really?

More questions: what’s the difference between Zero Zero and bread flour? Or all purpose flour? Is Zero Zero flour the best to make pizza?

All these questions have an answer! In this article I will try to reply to them and I will give you some very LITTLE KNOWN information!

Oh, by the way, you can also say Double Zero if you want 😀

First of all let me tell you what Zero Zero flour is NOT! And hold tight here because I’m going to shake your certainties, my friends.

💣 Zero Zero Is NOT...very finely milled flour.

At this point it's likely you want to stop reading, laugh at me or at least you’re wondering what the heck I’m saying.

Bear with me, let me explain.

Zero zero is just a name we Italians give to a certain type of flour, a category the flour falls into. The other names, and categories, are mostly numbers: 0, 1, 2 and Integrale - that means Wholemeal.

It's a question of filtering

These five different types of flour are in order of refinement, where Double Zero and Integrale are the extremes.

Zero Zero is the most filtered and it contains just the seed, the endosperm.

Then type Zero is less filtered, types 1 and 2 are less and less filtered, while Integrale is not filtered at all and it also contains wheat germ and bran - hence the darker colour.

But you don’t have to take my word for granted. In fact, this codification comes from an Italian law 👨🏻‍⚖️

It’s called a DPR, which is short for “Decree of the President of the Republic” and it's the number 187 emitted in the year 2001. This decree gives some info on how to classify the flour and the features are precisely indicated.

Please note: I shared a video about this topic. At the end of it I gave the instructions needed to find the whole text of the DPR on an istitutional italian website. If you prefer written instruction, please let me know and I'll do my best to help.

There is no mention about milling, about the size of the grains, about the baking temperature or recommended style of pizza and all that stuff you see everywhere online, which I deem misinformation.

Let me repeat that: no mention at all.

⚠️Beware though: I'm not saying that every flour is milled the same way and that no flour with finer grain exists. I'm saying that's not the case of Zero Zero.

The comparison table you see down here is an excerpt from DPR 187/01, it shows the differences between the five kinds of flour. Pay attention, as this is super relevant for our purpose - and our knowledge as pizza makers!

The Law 📖

The first column is called "Type and denomination", you will find those five names I already mentioned above.

Second column is the "Maximum humidity", expressed in percentage, all the fields are filled with the same value.

Third and fourth column are the amount of ashes: again it’s a percentage, and the minimum is just for wholemeal flour.

Finally, the fifth and last column is my favourite because it tells us the minimum percentage of proteins for that particular type of flour. You probably know we talk about proteins all the time!

Look carefully and you will see that Zero Zero flour can have as low as 9% proteins.

It sucks, honestly. I bet that your average bread flour has at least 11.5% proteins, enough to make a decent pizza, like the ones you find on my Instagram feed for example - you should find me there and follow me 😉

So this is the first difference between bread flour and Zero Zero: the minimum protein content is clearly specified. I’ve never seen any bread flour with just 9% proteins, while I’ve seen many Zero Zero’s with 9%. I used them to make cakes, or fresh pasta, or to coat food for frying.

The difference can be smaller for most all purpose or plain flours, as they usually have less proteins. But at the same time, I’ve seen plain flours with less than 9% proteins.

Food for thoughts

Let’s consider a nice crop of wheat from the USA for example. Let’s split this crop: half will stay home, it will be milled and it will become a nice strong bread flour with 12 % proteins, like the one you (we!) used many times.

We will send the other half to Italy, which happens all the time because Italy imports loads of wheat, we consume more than we produce.

So half of our initial crop will be milled in Italy and transformed into a nice Zero Zero flour with the same 12% proteins, respectful of our DPR.

So which flour will be the best to make pizza? Will you decide only depending on the NAME? 😏

From crop to milling to bread- or Zero Zero flour

By the way, I know I’m over simplifying here, I’m not taking into account the whole process, from milling the wheat to the aging of the flour, but I think it’s fair to say that those two batches of flour are very similar despite their name being different.

In general, if you asked me if Zero Zero is the best flour for pizza it’s more likely I would say no rather than yes, because I know how many Zero Zero's are out there and I tried many of them. Before I decide if I want to make pizza with a certain flour, I will always check the protein content and look for at least 12% which is enough for the procedure I follow, the one you will find in this video.

My answers!

1️⃣ What is Zero Zero flour? Well, it’s flour! 😝

Ground soft wheat! Zero Zero is just one of the names we use in Italy!

2️⃣ What’s the difference between Zero Zero and bread flour? Or all purpose flour?

The protein content is relevant here, 9% being the minimum amount for Zero Zero. The amount of ashes is also relevant, but it's hard to do a comparison, as this value is not usually mentioned on other flours' bags - it would be interesting to know more about rules & laws in other Countries, if you are aware of them, please let me know 🙏🏻

3️⃣ Finally: Is Zero Zero flour the best to make pizza?

Not necessarily, if it's the one with poor protein content, you won't be able to afford that long fermentation we always look for.

I hope you liked this article, feel free to leave a comment to discuss or ask questions. If you found some value and you feel like supporting me, keep scrolling down and you will see several ways to pat my back!

See you next time 🍕


Here's how you can support me!

🌾 You can simply buy me a bag of flour

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