• How should I store flour?

    Flour should be stored in a clean, cool, dry and ventilated place, separate and dedicated only to it. In order to prevent contaminations, other products should not be stored in the same place like for instance vegetables and flavours. Flour can be stored in bulk in silos or packed in paper bags with specific requirements, in accordance with the L.D. 21.03.73 and subsequent that enables the “breathing” of the product. If you opt for storage in paper bags, these latter must be placed, on special pallets not adhering to the wall.

  • What is meant by “strong” or “weak” flours?

    When we speak of “flour strength”, we mean two capacities: to absorb liquids during kneading and retain carbon dioxide during leavening. Flour is “strong” when it absorbs a lot of liquids during kneading and withholds the carbon dioxide produced during leavening, giving bulky products with well-developed crumb. Flour is “weak” when it does not absorb the liquids of the mixture and forms a reduced mass of gluten that during leavening withholds less gas, resulting in less bulky products and less dimpled crumb. Flour is “normal” in terms of strength when it features intermediate characteristics.

  • For which uses are “strong” and “weak” flours suitable?

    Flour is a key ingredient in bakery products and its characteristics determine the quality of the finished product: the refinement of flour (type 00, 0, 1, 2, whole wheat), its rheological properties (strength and relationship between resistance and extensibility) and its fermentation characteristics (amylase activity). In choosing flour, in general, we say that “strong” flour, capable of forming more gluten, will result in bulkier products, with more developed, softer and more digestible crumb and thinner crust, while “weak” flour will give the opposite result. For products that require an excellent development, extremely fine and soft crumb and long leavening it is necessary to use “strong” flours – for instance biga-based dough or with natural yeast, as well as for the production and preservation of the following: ciabatta with biga, recurrence products like the Christmas Cake Panettone, the Easter Dove Cake, browsed, leavened products. For other products – bread sticks, focaccia bread, rustic bread, and pastries – “weak” flours are more suitable since they give more consistent crumb, less able to disperse flavour during baking, and a thicker crust. Flours of average strength are needed for most bread making recipes.

  • What is meant by “ashes” when it comes to flour?

    Ashes are components of flour (mineral salts) which, subject to a “carbonization treatment” of at least 6 hours at a temperature of +500/600 °C, remain intact. Refined flour will therefore have lower ash content than whole-wheat flour, which contains more bran parts and therefore more mineral salts.  The refinement of flour, determined by low ash content, does not have any correlation with the flour’s strength. In Italy law n. 580, in force in the industry, and subsequent changes, establish some parameters needed to trade soft wheat flour.

    Soft wheat flours intended for commerce can be produced only in the types and with the following characteristics:

    Type and
    Maximum humidity% Per hundred part of dry substance
    Ash Minimum protein
    Min. Max.  
    Soft wheat flour, type 00 14,50 __ 0,55  9,00
    Soft wheat flour, type 0 14,50 __ 0,65 11,00
    Soft wheat flour, type 1 14,50 __ 0,80 12,00
    Soft wheat flour, type 2 14,50 __ 0,95 12,00
    Soft whole-wheat flour 14,50 1,30 1,70 12,00

    It is permissible to enter the consumption of soft wheat flours with a moisture content of up to 15.50 %, provided that the related label contains the statement maximum moisture content 15.50 %.

  • Why do we determine proteins in flour and what is gluten?

    Flour proteins are a valuable component of wheat and the determination of their content is the starting point for the classification of flours. Low values are found in flours for biscuits (where gluten formation is useless) and high values in flours for leavened products. Different types of proteins are found in flour. The most important ones are those that form gluten, a protein that is insoluble, naturally present in wheat, and therefore, in flour. 
    During kneading, when flour comes into contact with water and salt, gluten is transformed into a compact, elastic and porous mass, which can be compared to a grid or a sponge that can absorb liquids from the dough and retain gas (carbon dioxide produced by yeasts). This causes the increase of product volume. The behaviour of dough during all production phases depends on the quantity and quality of gluten.

  • What is W?

    W is a parameter derived from the analyses carried out by the Chopin Alveograph on a water, flour and salt dough.  W is the index of flour strength: the higher the index, the stronger the flours.  Values may range from 100-150 for biscuits flours, to up to 500 for long leavening time flours. As for all parameters obtained from consistency analyses on dough, the W value is related to other information obtained with tools like Farinograph, Amylograph and Brabender Extensograph.

  • What is the P/L index?

    The P/L index is the ratio between dough strength and extensibility, as identified by the alveographic test, carried out with the Chopin Alveograph, the same used for the W parameter determination.  In general, balanced flours are those whose P/L index ranges between 0.6 and 0.7.  Flours with a P/L index lower than 0.5 are considered too extensible, while those with an index higher than 0.9 are resistant.  To avoid gross errors of judgement, it must be emphasized that this index, while important, should not be assessed individually, but always seen in relation with farinograph, extensograph, gluten and Hagberg index data analyses. If these ratios are correct, strong flour for instance, will be balanced even with a slightly higher P/L index.

  • What do we mean by Stability?

    Stability is a parameter that is measured with a tool called Brabender Farinograph. It is the index of dough subject to the stress of mixer blades. Stability is measured in minutes; it shows the time during which dough keeps a given degree of consistency. As with other indices, this one too is related to flour’s strength: the stronger the flours, the higher the stability. As always, in order to get exhaustive information on flour behaviour, Farinograph test results should be related with the parameters pro-vided by other tools.

  • What does the Falling Number value or Hagberg index define?

    The Falling Number value defines the enzymatic activity of flour, which must always be balanced. With a low level of enzymatic activity (we are primarily interested in the amylase activity- Falling Number value higher than 400) we get products that do not rise and whose crumb is more compact and dry. If the enzymatic activity is higher than it should (falling number values lower than 200 seconds) we have more severe defects, difficult to correct: finished products with darker crust, more humid and stickier crumb and flatter shape. To adjust flours with low amylase activity it is necessary to use malt or malted flours, to adjust flours with a high amylase activity, the overall dough acidity should be increased, using a fair amount of old dough to inhibit excessively active amylases.

  • What are mycotoxins?

    Mycotoxins (aflatoxins, ochratoxin A, zearalenone, vomitoxin etc…) are the most common natural toxins in food.  They are produced by the secondary metabolism of some species of parasitic fungi that can grow on a wide variety of foodstuffs (coffee, cocoa, spices, dried fruits, cereals and other). They may grow  either in the fields prior to harvesting, or in response to unfavourable environmental conditions – such as excessive moisture along with high temperatures – or at a later stage, during storage, due to incorrect conservation practices.  Owing to the potential danger caused by mycotoxins in food and feed, the European Community has issued directives and regulations to establish the maximum contents/values allowed in the various products, including cereals and by-products. Mycotoxins are heat resistant; therefore they cannot be destroyed by ordinary cooking, or food stabilization processes; this is why it is extremely important to identify contaminated raw materials and exclude them from production processes.  We strictly check the levels of mycotoxins in our facilities, by means of appropriate fast tooling able to detect their presence already in the incoming flow of raw materials. Furthermore, wheat is stored in a modern silage plant, equipped with an entry pre-cleaning installation whose structure does not allow the product stagnation.