I recently purchased a bag of Fortissimo durum flour from Cairnspring Mills in Burlington, Washington. According to the North Dakota Wheat Commission, “[d]urum thrives in a climate characterized by cool summer nights, long warm days, adequate but not excessive rainfalls and a dry harvest….” Although California, Arizona and North Dakota produce the majority of US-grown durum flour, Fortissimo, developed in 2006, performs well in certain Pacific Northwest regions. Cairnspring’s Fortissimo grows in Washington’s Skagit Valley.
Fortissimo is a very hard variety of durum wheat. Cairnspring claims that during its early milling trials, the wheat broke its mill stones. Durum’s protein content can range from 9 to 18%. Fortissimo has a protein level between 10-11.5%, which is just a tick below average. Cairnspring mills and then sifts its Fortissimo to a Type 90 flour, which has slightly more texture than Central Milling’s Extra Fancy Durum. Neither Cairnspring’s Fortissimo nor Central Milling’s Extra Fancy Durum flour resemble traditional semolina, which is a granular flour composed of evenly sized endosperm.
I’ve made a number of batches of pasta blending 60 grams of Cairnspring’s Fortissimo durum with 90 grams of Central Milling’s Organic Type 00 flour. To hydrate the flour, I add one whole egg and two egg yolks, which together weigh just under 100 grams. Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, I slowly add the egg mixture to the flour blend until the dough just comes together. I then tightly wrap the dough in plastic film and let it hydrate at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling the dough out in my Imperia R220. I plan on using the same flour blend to extrude pasta with my torchio, but will cut back on the amount of the egg mixture to make a harder dough.