The Pizza Flour You Choose Matters
Which flour is best for making pizza? This is one of those questions that has as many answers as there are people making pizza out there. But there are better and worse flours for making pizza.
Tipo 00 is the best kind of flour for making pizza because of its highly refined grains. Because of this, tipo 00 is perfect for making light and airy Neapolitan style crusts that are crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. Pizzas made from tipo 00 flour often digest easier in the stomach as well.
That might be a controversial answer for many people, especially since most recipes online call for all-purpose or even bread flour. So, let’s go over what Tipo 00 flour is and why I prefer it to other kinds of flour.
Why Is Tipo 00 Better For Pizza Than All-Purpose?
Tipo 00 flour is better for making pizza for several reason. For one, Tipo 00 is much more finely ground than all-purpose flour.
This makes for a crust that is puffy and airy as compared to the sometimes harder and chewier crust you get with all-purpose flour.
In my experience, pizza doughs made from all-purpose or bread flour have a distinctly bread-like taste and texture compared to doughs made from tipo 00. And while all-purpose pizza can still be tasty, nothing beats the light crispy crust and easier digestion of a tipo 00 pizza.
While Tipo 00 flour is usualy imported from Italy, believe it or not, many major supermarkets across North America carry carry it regularly. It usually can be found in tidy 1kg packages and many of the major brands can be found on Amazon as well.
Strong Flour Will Make Your Pizza Dough Chewy But Might Work For Thin Crust
Many people insist on using strong flour for their pizza doughs but I avoid this and opt for lighter Tipo 00 flour.
Strong flour, or strong bread flour, is flour that is made from hard wheat varieties and contains more gluten. Gluten is what gives bread its elasticity and results in a chewier crust.
When it comes to most styles of pizza, strong flour will result in a tough and chewy crust. Maybe this is what you’re looking for, but most people will prefer a light and airy crust that is easy to chew and digest.
On the other hand, if you’re planning on making a very thin crust pizza with lots of toppings that you roll out with a rolling pin, strong flour might be an appropritate choice the extra strength will hold up to all the weight of the toppings on top. But keep in mind that your crust will be brittle and may even have a bitter taste if you bake it too long.
Bread Flour Is Not The Same As Tipo 00 Flour
There seems to be some confusion online about what tipo 00 flour actually is. Tipo 00 is not the same thing as bread flour, in fact they are kind of the opposite of each other due to how their grains are milled.
Tipo 00 by definition refers to how finely the grains are milled. Bread flour on the other hand can range from finely milled to more of a whole grain. But usually bread flour grain is as rough or rougher as regular all-purpose flour.
So while tipo 00 will give you a soft fluffy crust, a bread flour will usually give you a chewier and tougher crust that tastes more like bread than pizza crust.
All-Purpose Flour Can Be Used Instead Of Tipo 00 Flour
As I’ve made clear by now, Tipo 00 flour is the best kind of flour for making a pizza similar to what’s popular in New York and Naples. But if you don’t have Tipo 00 flour available where you live, you still have plenty of options.
In general, I recommend using all-purpose flour instead of Tipo 00 flour. All-purpose flour is usually the most middle of the road flour on a North American shelf. This means it’s usually finely milled enough and has enough of a protein content to form strong enough gluten bonds and allow proper stretching without being too bready.
Many people claim that all-purpose flour has too little protein content for a pizza dough but this isn’t true. All-purpose flour typically has a protein content between 9-11% which is more than enough for a pizza. But if you can, opt for the higher protein so your pizza crust will withstand being stretched and have a small bit of chew to it as well.
That said, any pizza made with all-purpose flour will be still be heavier and harder to digest than Tipo 00. But if you’re in a pinch, it should work fine and taste good.
What Can I Do With Tipo 00 Flour
While Tipo 00 flour is mostly used for pizza, that doesn’t mean it can’t be used in other recipes as well.
I often like to make loaves of bread or dinner rolls with my leftover Tipo 00 flour pizza dough. You can do this as well by simply forming the dough into a loaf pan and brushing lightly with oil to get a crispy crust.
Tipo 00 flour is also quite popular for making calzones as well.
In general, use Tipo 00 for any recipe that you want to have a light but still slightly chewy crust.
Tipo 00 Has Nothing To Do With Protein Or Gluten Content
Most posts on blogs around the internet say that Tipo 00 flour means higher or lower gluten. This is wrong as Tipo 00 only refers to how finely the grain is milled.
Tipo 00 flour runs the full spectrum of higher and lower protein content. This protein is usually what determines how strong the gluten bonds will be.
Consider Fermenting Your Pizza Dough Before Baking
Another factor that comes into play when determining how well a pizza will turn out is the fermentation time. I personally like to ferment my doughs for at least 24 but preferably 48 hours. This allows for the airiest and puffiest crust possible. It also makes the crust easier to digest, similar to the way sourdough works.
I also use a super easy no-knead method when making my doughs. You can check it out here.
Does Walmart/Amazon Carry 00 Flour?
Believe it or not 00 flour, though usually imported directly from Italy, is available at most major supermarket chains.
In fact, even Walmart and regularly keeps 00 flour in stock depending on your area.
Tipo 00 flour is also available on Amazon, which you can check out here.
Choose The Best Pizza Flour For You
So, in essence my message to all you wanna-be home pizza-makers out there is simple. Just use your best judgement when it comes to choosing flour. If you have a Tipo 00 flour available to you, you should use it.
But if you don’t have Tipo 00, don’t hesitate to reach for all-purpose flour in your local grocery aisle. Your pizza will be heavier but still very tasty.
I generally find that the thinner the crust, the less taste matters. Especially when the crust is extremely thin and crispy. I sometimes add flax or whole wheat to my thin crusts because there’s simply less crust to taste. But I’d never do this with a Neapolitan pizza where the whole point is to relish the soft puffy crust.
Additionally, check out this useful explanation of how to figure out exactly what percentage of protein is in your flour.