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Can I use strong bread flour for pasta making?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm a pasta making novice. and have just bought what I'm told is a decent quality pasta rolling machine to help ease me into this new adventure. I don't have immediate access to any speciality flour, so I would like to know if using a strong bread flour is an acceptable substitute for the time being?

I'm likely to be looking at Ravioli, Tagliatelli and Lasagne dishes.

If a strong bread flour is acceptable, does that apply to both white and wholewheat?

Finally any hints/tips about making fresh pasta would be appreciated.

post #2 of 12
Yes and no. You can use it for sheet pasta but it will definitely not work for long pasta. If you use it for lasagna, don't roll it too thin. Maybe fetucinne thickness. You can make egg noodles too, wide and short, and once again, not too thin.
post #3 of 12

durum wheat is touted as like el besto pasta stuff.

durum has the highest protein / gluten content.

what's up?
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi Kuan = Thanks for the info.:cool:

Normally I just hear to use 00 flour. I only see one variation of these in my local supermarket, and that appears to be a good quality plain flour, my understanding being the 00 refers to grade of fineness - as opposed to a specific fitness for use in pasta making.

Hi Dilbert = Thanks for replying, I'm unsure where your question is directed to?:blush:

I had thought bread flour for the gluten content. Looking at Kuan's reply, it lacks a quality, that the Durum wheat brings to the table.

That's fine though, while I find a good supplier for a more traditional flour. As long as I know when I'm experimenting that the dough can be made successfully, and I'm not setting myself up for an impossible task, then I can go and play. At least now I'll know it's myself to blame if I keep on ending up with a gooey mess. :D
post #5 of 12
Hi Andy,

In my travels through Italy and after working in an Italian restaurant, the consensus is that '00' is definitely the one to use. It is the most refined flour (which unfortunatly means it has the least goodness remaining) and is also high in gluten, which you need to make a good pasta. It is also the supreme flour for pizza, especially in Naples, the home of the Italian pizza.

Happy cooking!
Kiwisizzler's blog

Good food is food that tastes of what it is!
Kiwisizzler's blog

Good food is food that tastes of what it is!
post #6 of 12
my understanding has been that pasta needs a high gluten flour.
that is why I wondered about the theory of "not high gluten flour for long pasta" - perhaps we'll get some more info on that.

I have very limited homemade pasta experience - I'm curious if it's folklore or something based in fact.
post #7 of 12
Some answers:

The supposedly best flours for making Italian pasta are very hard (aka very high in gluten) and extremely fine ground (that's where the "00" comes in -- it's a screen measurement). Italians like their pasta with a little bit of a yellow color and usually use some proportion of semolina flour. In fact, semolina is one of two flours acceptable to the Italian government for licensed dry pasta. The other is the already discussed durum.

00 is a screen designation -- in other words only very fine flour particles will sift through an 00 screen. However, the flour you see labeled as "flour 00" is also extremely high in protein because it's specifically ground to be used as pasta and pizza dough flour, and is formulated with durum wheat.

Whole wheat flour is almost always harder than any white flour other than durum or semolina -- including "bread flour." In the greater scheme of things bread flour isn't that hard. If memory serves, the hierarchy is semolina and durum, graham and whole wheat, bread, AP, and cake. I think. You can check if you want.

One of the benefits of of hard flour is its ability to hold up to rough handling without overworking the gluten. For instance, "bread" flour really shines with its ability to take stand mixer kneading. Most European breads are baked (in Europe anyway) with flour that's no harder than average AP. This doesn't speak directly to making pasta, but should give you an idea. With all the rolling and stretching, pasta dough takes a real beating. A really high gluten count helps keep the dough going.

You can make all sorts of Italian type (as opposed to say Chinese) noodles with whole wheat flour, graham flour, bread flour and even AP flour. The softer the flour the more gently it needs to be handles. In the case of pasta making this is not a matter of kneading but of resting and refrigerating the dough before rolling it out. When using softer flour, I usually go through the widest setting twice, then skip every other setting on the pasta machine until the final thickness which I also run twice before cutting. If problems manifest themselves, I repeat the offending setting rather than going thinner, as it's less stressful. If the dough gets sticky or fragile, I dust it pasta with flour (so it won't stick) fold it and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When making pasta, I sometimes mix semolina with "bread" 50/50 if I've run out of durum. How many flours can you have on hand?

FWIW, most Asian pastas, from ramen to wonton wrappers, are made with AP type flour. So, long noodles and thin ravioli are definitely doable.

Hope this helps,
post #8 of 12
Cook's Thesaurus: Wheat Flours

wheat flour Includes: (from hardest to softest flours)durum wheat flour and semolina flour (typically used for making pastas), whole wheat flour and graham flour (typically mixed with all-purpose or bread flour to make bread or baked goods), bread flour (typically used for making yeast breads), all-purpose flour (can be used for breads and baked goods), pastry flour (typically used for pastries), and cake flour (typically used for cakes). Substitutions: See the all-purpose flour listing.
post #9 of 12
If you are making thin noodles, use semolina. Make sure to let the dough rest at least an hour or 2 before kneading.

If you are making thicker pasta, have fun experimenting.
post #10 of 12
Well, the ends of the is are right. Durum and semolina tend to be the highest protein flours. And cake is lowest. In between, it varies. A lot. it depends on the wheat you start with. If you have a low protein wheat, and make graham or whole wheat flour from it you'll still not have a very hard flour. Wheats grown in the southern parts of the US has historically been lower protein wheats, and so the flours available there are much softer than in the north (Southern bread flours are lower protein than many northern AP ones. That's one of the reasons there are so few good biscuits north of the mason-dixon line, too.). This is still true today, even though national brands sell flour under the same name in different places, with different properties.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Many thanks for being so helpful and offering such full and informative replies, they are all very much appreciated. :cool:

post #12 of 12

I'm a bit confused by a lot of these comments. As I understand it, in order to make pasta, you need gluten. Flour itself contains no gluten, as far as I know. What it does contain is protein, which is a necessary component for forming gluten in your dough - The more protein, the more gluten. Bread flour is among the highest protein flours on the shelves and those flours specifically for bread machines are even a bit higher. So why does the first comment say you can't make noodles with bread flour? Am I missing something here? Am I way off base? I would've thought that bread flour would be ideal when you can't get your hands on semolina flours that are ground a certain way to create tender pastas and absorb moisture better. Am I wrong?

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