The Fresh Loaf

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Confused about pastry flour.

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PastryNube's picture
PastryNube

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? 

 

Bluwberry's picture
Bluwberry

Can't help you with your questions but WOW on your results.  They look terrific!  I was given some pastry flour at Christmas and (I'm a newbie too) I've been threatening myself to try croissants since then.  I think your  post is enough to get me there.

 Great job!  They are terrific.

I'm sure you will get some answers to your queries.  I'll be looking for them to learn along with you.

Bluwberry

Cob's picture
Cob

I am seconding the WOW! My first ever, and only, croissants were pitifully, pitifully pathetic.

European flour is graded by fineness - how white it is after it has been burnt, so T45 is very fine but not quite the finest, and suited to pastries etc. and the lower end of baking, but not quite sauces! Protein does not factor. It can be hard or weak in protein, yet of different fineness, hence flours can range.

T55 is usually the stuff for French bread, and higher up, to T100 I believe for coarser, brown doughs. I'm sure you can make croissants with T45, but the protein would have to be there to handle all those rich ingredients. I would not sub. for US pastry flour. Just stick to an excellent, superfine AP flour with at least 12% protein, as you would for bread. I think that is what he means by hard quality T45 flour.

 

Absolutely NEVER heard of wheat flour reaching the heady heights of 17%. That's some superman flour. I'm not convinced it exists.....

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

sorry, but flours are categorized by ashes, not by fineness. Fineness doesn't fit at all in the classification scheme, neither european nor american (as fas as  I know) if not for some very special purpose product (such as pumpernickel meal/groats/chops).

There are flours with very high gluten content. Some are "natural" (from some specialty australian and/or asian hard wheat), others have vital wheat gluten added in (I have one with 18% proteins).

 

Cob's picture
Cob

Hello,

Finesse refers to how fine, and subsequently white (endopserm matter, minus its branny parts), a flour is. This changes according to the extraction rate of the particular flour, and European flour measures the ash/mineral content after it has been burnt, and T45 has an extraction of 60-70%, 0.5 or lower ash content. That is an indication of refinement. And so colour, right? No flour is white, I'm not implying this, hence our history of bleaching flour until its invisible.

I'm happy to be corrected. I'm no milling/baking expert.

To the point: Looking at your nutritional label, 5g per 30g serving, I think that makes it 16.7g per 100g. That's not totally unbelievable, But nope, I've never heard of 17% wheat flour.

For croissants, a yeasted pastry, bottom line, needs strong/hard (high-enough-protein) flour that is super, fine, that is, highly refined. Highly refined flours tend to be roller milled, and available from your grocers.

PastryNube's picture
PastryNube

 

Wow back! Thank you both for your kind compliments. :)

Thanks also for the explanation. Based on your comment about not substituting American pastry flour, I guess the term "pastry flour" can mean different things depending on context?

The main reason I'm asking is because I'm not sure I can rely on my one source of this flour to always have it and I want to know what to look for in the event I have to use something else in the future.

I didn't realize 17% is unusual. I've attached a pic of the label for confirmation. Looking at the bag again, I've now noticed that it says the flour is type 00 which I guess is about how finely ground it is, and it also says "soft wheat". I've never posted on this forum before so not sure it will allow me to post a link, but I'm going to try to post the link to the manufacturer's product page for this flour (in Italian) and hope it comes up. Here it is:

http://www.molinosoncinicesare.com/products/farina-per-dolci2.php?lang=it

Thanks again

 

 

 

d_a_kelly's picture
d_a_kelly

Those are pretty amazing looking! These could easily be the work of a professional...

Italians distinguish between "grano tenero" and "grano duro" - grano tenero is simply what in the UK (and I imagine the US) we would call wheat - that is normal flour, be it for pastry or for bread. Grano duro is durum wheat, or semolina, and is more used for pasta or some types of regional bread making. The "00" marking, as you rightly say, reveals the degree of milling, and the part of the wheat which was milled (here the inner core only). It says nothing (unfortunately) about the strength of the flour. 

I've never, ever heard of a flour with 17% protein but I do know that some molini sell hugely strong flour blends for making panettone and other enriched breads. These are usually only available to professionals though. The flours available on the domestic market are nowhere near as strong. This might be one of those - it clearly works! I'm going to have to try to get some :)

David

PastryNube's picture
PastryNube

Thank you for the compliment and also for that explanation. It sounds like "soft wheat" means something very specific when it comes to Italian flour. Good to know! I'm starting to realize that there's a ton to learn when it comes to baking. Eek!

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi

If the flour is analysed on dry matter only, which is common with European flour analysis, then I calculate the protein level would equate to 14.6% using US standards which assume 14% moisture content.

That is at least a plausible % protein content in a high gluten white flour.

Best wishes

Andy

PastryNube's picture
PastryNube

Thank you for your response. Flour is apparently a really complicated subject! lol

Forgive me, but I'm not following your math. If we start with 30g of flour and we assume that 14% is moisture, then doesn't that mean we're talking about  25.8g ( 30 x .86 ) of dry matter? In that case, doesn't that also mean that the percentage of protein goes up rather than down? 5g protein/25.8g dry matter x 100 = 19.38% protein. Where did I go wrong in my calculations?

PastryNube's picture
PastryNube

Oh, maybe you're saying that the 30g on the label is dry matter only and that I need to add to that get the number that includes moisture content?

papasmurf2525's picture
papasmurf2525

When you go to the web site mentioned above, there are two nutrition fact to be view, but not the ingredient list.

One fact sheet is for making biscuits, the second for crossiants.  This would mean that the company ands more protein probly in the form of powdered butter to the mix to help with making croissiants.

I am from Canada, and we do not have anything like that.   We do have the dry biscuit mixes, and the nutrition facts on this mix is higher then just flour.

In Canada, there is usually just hard flour,(also called all purpose flour), soft flour used for cakes, and bread machine flour which tends to be between the two.   Hard flour causes recipes to have more glueten, thus is better for breads.

You can use hard flour in cakes, you have to reduce the amout by 2 teaspoons per cupful  ( 20 ml per 250 ml).

PastryNube's picture
PastryNube

I'm not sure I understand your comment. The link I provided was just to the flour manufacturer of the flour I used, not to the recipe I followed. Or are you referring to something else?

Also, I'm in Toronto and I did find that flour right here in Canada. 

grind's picture
grind

Best to stay confused and keep baking nice croissants lol.

PastryNube's picture
PastryNube

Thanks. I'll work at maintaining my present level of confusion. :)

papasmurf2525's picture
papasmurf2525

Sorry if I did not explain it clearly.  

I was referring to the flour not what is in your recipe.  It would seem like the flour is an imported product.  And not all countries necessarily follow or adhere to Canadian standreds, which means that they might not list all ingredients.

You say you are in Toronto.  Well, I am living in Rural Manitoba, with it being a good 2 hour drive to get to the outskirts of Winnipeg.  So access to alot of imported food products is very limited.

But the finally result is you have baked wonderful croissants, so don't stop doing what you were doing.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And that is where the confusion starts.  Gluten is a protein but most packages make no distinctions between the types of proteins lumping all of them under one title of "Protein."  This leaves many of us hanging in the air having to guess how much is gluten and how much is "other."  Obviously, the flour is rich in "other" proteins.  Also the link gives protein anywhere between 11% and 17% 

I seem to remember that sprouted flours contain more protein...   (dig, dig, dig... ah ha!)

Might find this link interesting.  Looks almost like a carbon copy of your label...

http://essentialEating.com/blogs/sprouted-flour

PastryNube's picture
PastryNube

Ok, that helps. So pastry flour has lower gluten although total protein content can be any amount? 

From what I understand as a result of translating the text on that website, the protein amounts on that label are not actually a range. They make two versions of their pastry flour. One is 11% and the other is 17%. They refer to these as version 1 and version 2 and that label just consolidates both into one with each of the protein amounts having a number in parenthesis next to it to indicate which version is being referenced. At the bottom right hand of the page there's a link where you can click on 1 or 2 to read a description of what each version can be used for. The one I have is #2.

Thank you for that link to the sprouted flour. I've never heard of that before. Can it be used for pastries? :)

 

nicodvb's picture
nicodvb

obviously has VWG added in to raise the gluten content. No italian flour comes even remotely close to that %.

ananda's picture
ananda

Nico has this nailed, no matter what type of flour, VWG has been added

A

Cob's picture
Cob

Type 00 in Italy has many purposes, and is often used for soft textured bready bakes, nominally the well-known focaccia and pizza, but for bread, it's often blended with Canadian/American, hard wheat flour for breads.

I've the C.Field, Italien Baker at hand, and accoridng to her 'Italien' croissant recipe, she uses AP flour. (Her cake flour is 7%, pastry 8-9%).