Confused about pastry flour.
I haven't done a lot of baking in my life, but I recently got it into my head that I needed to make my own French croissants. The first batch I made was using a recipe that called for all purpose flour and the results were ok in terms of flavor, but the croissants were somewhat hard and not at all what I wanted texture wise. I moved on to another recipe that I found on youtube where the croissants were made using what the chef described as pastry flour. He further specified that the flour should be T-45 and that it should be "very hard". I found this confusing because my understanding was that pastry flour was supposed to be soft. At the time, I just assumed the problem was that this French chef just didn't speak English very well.
In any case, I went on a mission to find myself some pastry flour. The best I could manage here in Toronto was cake & pastry flour until I came upon a grocer that was selling an Italian brand flour ( Molino Soncini Cesare ) that was labeled "cake" on the English side, Dolci ( sweets) on the Italian side, and then had another label glued onto it that said in French "Farine a patisserie" ( pastry flour ). Meanwhile, the nutrition facts on the bag specified that there are 5g of protien for every 30g serving which works out to just under 17%! I took a chance and purchased the flour and when I got home I researched it further and found that the manufacturer was recommending it especially for croissants ( they also had an 11% version of this flour for other purposes). I was in business.
I'm obviously not a professional baker, but by my standards the croissants came out pretty darn well ( pic attached ). They have a delicate flake while also being nice and airy.
So now I'm confused about what it means when people refer to pastry flour since I've now heard it described as "soft", "hard", as "low protein" and then in my case 17% protein. Can anyone shed some light on this?