Both pizza and bread flour are popular choices for pizza–their key differences are that pizza flour has a finer grain size, lower gluten, and lower water absorption compared to bread flour. When you’re looking to make quick pizza dough for a fun but simple dinner, you might not be sure which is the best choice.
You can use either to get a delicious pizza crust, but they will be slightly different. A thicker, chewy crust can be achieved with bread flour, which will impact how to layer a pizza when it comes to the amount of sauce and cheese you use. It’s like asking if you can use pasta sauce for pizza–they’re both tomato sauces, but they aren’t exactly interchangeable without some adjustments.
All Purpose Flour vs 00 Flour vs Bread Flour for Pizza
Choosing flour for making pizza dough is like looking at the difference between a sleek Italian sports car, a rugged American truck, and a reliable Japanese sedan—each promises to take you on a unique journey, but the ride (and in this case, the bite) differs vastly for your recipe.
With 00 flour (aka pizza flour), you aim for the smooth sophistication of a thin, airy crust that elegantly supports your toppings.
Bread flour is like the all-terrain choice, giving your crust a hearty, chewy texture that can handle a heavy load of ingredients. And all-purpose flour? The reliable all-rounder, providing a balanced crust that’s neither too light nor too dense, perfect for those who appreciate versatility.
Let’s dive into these flours.
What Is Pizza Flour?
Commonly referred to as ‘00 Flour,’ Italian pizza flour is traditionally made from a finer grain of wheat, resulting in a very powdery flour. This is the finest that flour can be milled.
The fineness of this flour makes it easier to work with, but it also means it requires less water for the dough. Neapolitan pizza dough will rely on oil to assist with hydration.
While the protein content of pizza flour is only slightly less than that of bread flour (both have around 12% to 13%), it has a lower gluten content, so it won’t get as stretchy. It’s still chewy, but it allows for more air and crispiness–this is where the air bubbles come from on pizza dough.
Styles of Pizza That Use 00 Flour
Neapolitan is the most classic and traditional use of 00 pizza flour. New York-style pies also typically use this type of flour.
Something to consider, of course, is that cooking temperature will impact the pizza dough. Neapolitan pizzas made the traditional way with 00 flour rely on high-temperature pizza ovens to produce the best results when it comes to browning and crisping the dough. Most ovens at home only reach temperatures as high as 500 degrees–so, while your pizza will still taste amazing, your results are likely to be a little less traditional.
What Is Bread Flour?
Bread flour is also commonly used in pizza making, but its differing properties produce a much different result compared to traditional Italian pizzas. It has a high protein and high gluten content–around 13% or 14%–and can absorb a lot of water. This is what gives bread dough the strength to rise high without collapsing.
When working with bread flour, it can be quite stretchy. Pizza crusts made with bread flour will be more dense, but still delicious.
Pizza Crusts Made With Bread Flour
Crispy, thin-crust pizzas are usually made using bread flour. Chicago deep dish pizza crust is structured and thick to accommodate lots of cheese and sauce, so it’s often made using bread flour with the addition of oil and other grains.
There are some styles of dough where the recipes will vary–some will call for pizza flour, others will call for bread flour, and some even use all-purpose flour. Focaccia dough, Sicilian-style dough, and some deep dish pizzas like Detroit-style will use these flours interchangeably.
Pizza is a staple food that has so much variety–you can experiment over and over with various dough styles and ingredients. Ultimately, choose the type of flour and dough recipes that work best for you!
All-Purpose Flour: The Jack of All Trades in Pizza Dough
All-purpose flour, while not traditionally used for pizza like 00 or bread flour, still holds its own in the pizza-making. With a protein content usually between 9 to 11%, it strikes a balance between chewiness and crispiness.
Dough made from all-purpose flour won’t be as stretchy as bread flour dough, nor as crisp as 00 flour dough, but it offers a versatile middle ground.
While it might not deliver the specialized textures of 00 or bread flour, all-purpose flour can still produce a satisfying, well-balanced pizza crust.
Beyond The Basics
As we wrap up this floury face-off comparing different flours, let’s also give a nod to the artisan touch in pizza dough recipes. If you’re eager to infuse a bit of dietary virtue alongside a rustic flair into your pizza, our Whole Wheat Pizza Dough is just the ticket. It delivers a fiber-filled punch with a wholesome, nutty flavor that’s anything but ordinary.
And if you are interested in the tangy sophistication of fermented foods, our Sourdough Pizza Dough is your ticket to a flavor rollercoaster.