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OO Flour vs Cake Flour?

How similar are thse? I have a couple of cookie recipes that I usually use cake flour, but happen to have about 50 lb of OO flour. I used a lot of this for cookies last year instead of AP and they didn't come out like normal, but would it be OK to use for more delicate recipes?

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  1. My understanding is that OO indicates how finely the flour is milled, not necessarily the gluten content (italian flour classification is different than US). That said, the OO we get here in the states is usually pretty low-gluten, roughly the same as pastry flour (around 9% protein). On the other hand, if it's labeled "panifiable" (suitable for bread-baking) then it's a higher protein level, what a bread bakery might use. (I'm cribbing all this information from Jeffrey Steingarten's excellent essay "Flat Out" -- he explains it in more detail.) Cake flour is very low gluten, very finely milled, and always bleached; OO may or may not be bleached.

    I'm not sure if that all helps! I'd probably try it as a substitute for pastry flour and see how that goes. How were last year's cookies not normal?

    Oh, of course you could also make a LOT of pasta -- I think that's one of the reasons that OO is milled so finely -- to create a more delicate texture.

    4 Replies
    1. re: MichaelB

      Thanks, I have Caputo flour from Italy, all I knew was it makes great pizza dough. I think the cookies that call for cake flour (like the rainbow cookies) came out nice, but the others were mushy and too soft. But I'm making my own lasagna noodles too so I'll use it with the semolina, that'll probably come out great!! I got King Arthur AP flour for the regular cookies, always used Gold Medal before, so we'll see if that makes a difference too.

      1. re: coll

        Coll, where did you get the Caputo flour from? Directly from Italy, or mail order?

        Thanks!

        1. re: Mickey Blue

          I've found it at PennMac.com This is the Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. (412) 471 - 8330

          1. re: Mickey Blue

            I got a sleeve of 10/5 lb bags from their broker in New Jersey, they were supposed to be sample size bags but he said they were so popular that they were going to start selling them at Dean and DeLuca, and A.S. Pork and other places like that. That was almost a year ago so maybe they're around now.

      2. Agree on everything about the diffences, with the additional comment that, according to the "authorities", cake flour is notably acidic compared to other flours. If it is 00 for pizza/bread, I'd expect a small chance of success - it doesn't have as much gluten as bread flour, but it seems to me comparable to American AP in terms of gluten content. (It does make a smoother dough, though.)

        Normally, I'd say it wouldn't be a good sub, but in cookies, it might work. Definitely try a small test batch first though and if the original recipes uses baking soda, you might consider using baking powder instead or if it works with the other ingredients, some kind of acidifying agent.

        1. There's also a wholesaler in the Bronx (Dairyland) that'll apparently sell retail if you go and pick it up - much cheaper than PennMac IIRC, if you can use 50lbs at a time.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MikeG

            I just checked their website (they ship UPS, check out chefswarehouse.com, I've used it and it's very quick) anyway all they have is 25 kilo bags. Hopefully they started selling the retail size by now in the little shops.

          2. I don't go in much any more, but I go by D&D often enough - I'll check that out.

            1. PS: I noticed this wasn't said before, but cake flour is also still more finely milled than 00.

              Personally, I notice the difference more the other way around (cake flour where it doesn't belong is weirder to me than AP instead of cake or pastry flour), but it is another factor.

              1. According to the King Arthur website (vendor of OO flour) and McGee's On Food and Cooking, the Italian OO flour is milled from a softer wheat that has a lower gluten content than most American all-purpose flour. Cake flour is treated in a manner that lowers the gluten content and is not appropriate for some recipes. From my bread baking experience, I suspect that the OO flour would work fine in a cake but the moisture might have to be adjusted. When I was in Italy and tried to make the pecan balls so popular at Christmas with the local Italian flour, the dough was too soft and the cookies tended to fall apart. Their flour is definitely behaves differently.