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I've been making pizza dough and the recipe says to use "good quality flour" but I'm not sure what it means? Are there differences in quality between different types of flour and how can I tell?

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possible duplicate of What is the difference between various types of flour? –  Eight Days of Malaise Jul 10 '10 at 4:54
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I wouldn't call this a duplicate as it is more specific (best pizza flour vs. difference between all flours) –  Bala Clark Jul 10 '10 at 17:39

6 Answers 6

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The best is the Italian Tipo 00: http://www.fornobravo.com/brick_oven_cooking/pizza_ingredients/flour.html.

If you can't find that flour, I find a mix of bread flour & semolina (ferina) works very well too.

This is my favourite pizza dough recipe: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pizza-recipes/pizza-dough

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That's the EXACT same recipe I use and I love it!! Will definitely give the Tipo 00 a crack next time. –  lomaxx Jul 10 '10 at 8:54

Using a high-gluten flour will allow more of the gas bubbles formed by your leavening agent to be trapped making an overall lighter bread that is stronger too. This is generally a desirable consistency for pizza doughs.

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The answer depends upon the type of pizza you're making:

00 Flour (Caputo or San Felice are two common brands) is an italian flour that's finely milled. It's low in protein content and performs well in high temperature ovens (e.g. coal fired, wood fired ovens). I usually don't cook 00 under 700F. 00 Flour is almost always used in Traditional Neapolitan style pizzas. Pizzas made with 00 have a softer texture.

High Gluten Flour is a high protein flour. It's commonly used in New York Style pizzas. Common brands are King Arthur Sir Lancelot, Pendleton's, Giusto's and All Trumps. It's harder to find in supermarkets. But you can find it in the bulk bins at some grocery stores. Pizzas made with High Gluten Flour have a breadier texture.

Bread Flour or All Purpose Flour are commonly used flours that are higher in protein content than 00, but lower than High Gluten. You can use these in most recipes and get great results.

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00 Flour, such as Caputo 00 is considered by many to be the best for wood-fired. There is actually an organization in Italy and a counterpart here in the US that certifies pizzerias in the making of True Naples Pizza or Verace Pizza Napoletana.

Caputo 00 is an important factor. The flour is milled in Naples by Molino Caputo (molinocaputo.it), run by a guy named Antimo Caputo. They mill a variety of 00 flours, and not all are the same. They do produce a 00 Pastry flour which has a lower protein content (9%) than all-purpose flour (11%), but their Pizzeria 00 and their Rinforzato (reinforced) 00 flours which are used to make pizza crust and bread happen to have higher protein content (12.5%) than typical all-purpose flour.

I'm getting these numbers from Wikipedia and from some data sheets that I received from Molino Caputo on the Pizzeria 00 and Rinforzato 00.

The key takeaway is that the flour number (00, 0, 1, 2) is a measure of how finely ground it is, and does not correlate directly to the protein content which is what the Wikipedia article implies with its chart.

So according to the experts, if you want to make true Naples-style pizza, Caputo tipo 00 is the best, but doesn't it come down to personal preference? Experiment and have fun, but be sure to try the Caputo flour at some point.

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What do we look in a pizza dough?

There are many styles of pizza: Italian Vera Pizza Napoletana, Chicago style, ... All of them have something in common in their dough: it should be stretched without tearing, and shouldn't stretch back.

Also, some recipes call for long fermentation times: 6, 9 or more hours at room temperature. With this you get a more relaxed dough (it won't stretch back), and more flavour.

Which flour characteristics give us that dough?

Millers use a tool called Alveograph to check their flour's characteristics. One of the values given by Alveographs is the p/l value. l value is an index for extensibility: how much can the dough be stretched before breaking. p value shows how hard is to give the dough a shape. p/l gives an idea on how the dough holds the shape it's been given. Flours with p/l≈1 are said to give "equilibrate" doughs for bread, as they are easy enough to give a loaf shape, and they will keep that shape once given.

Pizza flours should have a p/l≈0.5, as it means the dough can be stretched to a big disc shape, it won't tear, and won't stretch back to a smaller disc.

For long fermentation time, a high W value is desireable: W=280, 300 or 320 are common values. W is not always related to p/l values, and it can be undesrtood (informally) as "how much gluten the flour has". As gluten in a dough gets degraded with time, a lot of it is desired initially in the dough to assure there will be enough at the end of fermentation, several hours (or days, if refrigerated) later.

Forget about those 00 in Italian flours. It really only means the finesse of grounding. For pizza making I try to use strong flours with a p/l value close to 0.5, albeit I've also used strong bread flour with good results.

How can I get flours with those characteristics?

There are some specific pizza flours. Some Italian makers (with no specific order) are:

  • Caputo
  • Spadoni

    You can see how W value is related to their recomended fermentation time.

  • 5 stagioni

    If you check the p/l value you'll see it's 0.6: right for pizza stretching.

If you can't get specific pizza flour, you can also try with flour specific for croissants, as they will also be strong and stretchy.

I've never eaten nor seen Chicago style pizza, so I can't help with flours specific for them, but I guess the guidelines given above should help.

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Just buy bread flour. For example Gold Medal or King Arthur flour.

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Thank you for contributing. However, we prefer answers with some explanations and background, not just throwing in random brands which many of the people here probably haven't even heard of (I don't know if these exist anywhere outside the US). Also, people are more likely to care for your answer if you'd at least write it as a whole sentence. I won't delete it, because it (barely) qualifies as an actual answer, but you already have downvotes, and the community is likely to react with more. –  rumtscho Jun 3 at 23:40

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