Cast your minds back to March 2020. At the beginning of the pandemic the world went, understandably, a little bit bonkers. Toilet roll and Lysol Wipes became currency in the early days and no matter where you looked it seemed like the shelves were empty. Fast forward a couple of weeks and the panic buying shifted focus; flour was no longer a white powdery substance derived from ground grains - it was gold dust. Everyone - and it really did feel like everyone - went crazy for flour. Ted Sheppard even changed his name to Bread Sheppard as the world went sour dough, flour, baking, baguette crazy. March 2020 may feel like a long time ago now as, last I checked, the local super market had plenty of flour and toilet paper on their shelves.
If one good thing can be taken from the pandemic and lockdowns is that it seems cooking at home is on the rise. Lets start with the right flour for pizza dough. I figured I might be able to help point you all in the right direction and save you some time so next time you venture out to the store you can pick the right flour for your kneads. Your OB is the ultimate wood fired pizza making machine so there’s no better place to start!
All Purpose Flour
All Purpose Flour does exactly what it says on the bag - it can be used for just about anything. For pizza, it will taste good for almost any pizza dough recipe but it does have it’s limitations. For example, its great for Sicilian or deep dish pizza. However, it can be more difficult to stretch out and you might find your dough can tear easily. All purpose flour combines hard and soft wheats and most commonly, it is bleached to create a softer texture. Fun fact about AP flour is that almost all of them are shelf stable. During processing and grinding the grains are stripped of their bran and germ which keeps AP flour from going bad. The more you know!
Many pizza makers swear by bread flour. The biggest difference between bread and all purpose is the protein content. Bread flour has a higher protein content and higher protein content means it produces more gluten and more gluten means more stretch and elasticity. More stretch and elasticity means better pizza dough! Bread flour is great for New York Style pizza crusts as it creates a crispy crust and chewy centre! It’s harder to tear as you stretch it out thanks to the protein and gluten!
00 Flour is the Rolls Royce of the flour world. Considered the gold standard for pasta and pizza dough, 00 flour is a finely ground Italian. The 00 refers to how finely it is ground - the Italian grading system starts at 2 which is coarser and works it’s way down through 1, 0 and finally 00. Caputo type 00 is the most common brand available in North America but be warned it’s considerably more expensive than your standard all purpose. 00 is also high in protein made from Durum wheat and the gluten it forms is strong. The gluten in 00 flour is not as elastic compared to bread flour which makes it perfect for Neapolitan Pizza; thin, crunchy crust that rises at the edges. A good rule of thumb when considering which flour you want to use in your pizza dough is to think of the end product. Do you prefer chain restaurant style pizza, with thicker crusts and chewier dough? Well then All purpose is the way to go. Do you prefer thin crust or crispy, lighter pizzas with chewy centers? Then maybe consider purchasing some 00 or bread flour!
At the end of the day it’s all about personal preference, practice and patience! There is no right or wrong answer and great results can be achieved with bread flour, all purpose or 00. Baking is a science: if you find a good recipe and follow the steps it’s hard to screw up. The internet is full of amazing recipes and resources, professionals and hobbyists who’ve perfected the art of a perfect slice and are eager to share their knowledge.
Flour is arguably the most important ingredient to a delicious pizza crust but not the only key to success. Oven temperature, cooking time, pizza toppings, allowing your dough to rise, kneading the dough and presentation are all crucial steps on your journey to making a slice that’s so good it brings tears to the eyes of a Neapolitan Nonna! Pizza is both an art and a science and a crowd favorite.
Now, that I’ve cut through the noise of a flour-y and chaotic world, get out there and make some Za. No need to thank me, it’s the yeast I could do! It’s been a slice, see you next time!