4

I was a little short of strong (bread) flour when making a pizza base the other day and substituted about 1/3 plain flour (Moulinex breadmaker, the recipe in the book with sugar and salt slightly reduced). I was expecting it to be really hard to roll/stretch to fit the tray I always use, which is larger than the recipe claims for a "thin" base, so pushing it a little. Instead it came out better than the last couple of times I made it with all the right flour. The eating texture was good too -- soft inside but crispy where the crust was exposed.

Is pizza dough stretchier/better with less gluten? How much less can I get away with (I have rather a lot of plain flour at the moment). Or was I just lucky?


Note the use of UK terms. Gluten content isn't given on the packaging but "strong" normally works out to about 13% while "plain" should be roughly equivalent to US "all-purpose" so 2--3% less.

6

As you probably know, various flours contain varying amounts of protein. When water is added, and the proteins are hydrated, gliadin and glutenin combine to form gluten. Gluten provides the structure and allows for stretch and rise. That is why a rest period after mixing is important. You might find this informative. The folks at Serious Eats took a look at various flours and their impact on pizza crust. While flours with different percentages of protein all work, the end result is somewhat different, and mostly boils down to preference. I make a lot of pizza. I usually mix and let rest for 24 hours before portioning, waiting a couple of more hours, then stretching and preparing the pizza. A long rest and a light touch are important to maintain a workable dough. I mainly use Caputo type 00 flour, but have also used AP flour and combinations of flours. In my experience "stretchiness" has more to do with hydration, time for the dough to relax, and a light touch. Type of flour impacts flavor, rise, and texture.

  • The resting was within the range of what I typically do (not long), but we're having a bit of a warm spell which might affect the hydration and rise. I might have to try resting overnight in the future as it could be really convenient. The list of pizza experiment ideas keeps growing (kettle barbecue+stone) so more pizza-goodness for me. – Chris H Aug 7 '18 at 14:47
  • 1
    @ChrisH in my opinion, kettle + stone is not better than oven. I have even moved on from my Big Green Egg, which I can get hotter than your kettle. As soon as you lift the lid, the heat is gone. – moscafj Aug 8 '18 at 1:56
  • Two reasons to try the kettle: a surplus of charcoal (it's no longer worth barbecuing) and weather that's suited to outdoor cooking. Plus I can use some oak in there. Wouldn't consider it if I didn't have a stone anyway. – Chris H Aug 8 '18 at 5:52
  • 1
    I'll chat longer on this if you want to move the conversation to the chat room. A) It is always worth barbecuing! B) I will contend that stone in oven still beats stone in outdoor grill (again, because of heat loss). Of course, results are edible! – moscafj Aug 8 '18 at 11:32
2

You can certainly make pizza without strong flour. In fact, there are many countries in the world (including most of continental Europe) where nobody outside of the food industry and a few afficionados has heard of strong flour at all.

Bread with lower gluten flour is softer, with a "cottonlike" softness. And it can easily build a hard crust, which is also crispy at the proper temperature. The dough is easier to roll, because it's less elastic, and doesn't "jump back" as much while you shape it. Bread with higher gluten has a different crumb quality, being somewhat tougher, more translucent and less absorbent. It can also be used with higher hydration, and it can hold larger holes, which is important for e.g. ciabatta.

You can make great bread out of both, but it's different bread. And you can make pizza crusts out of both. People looking for the qualities of high-gluten bread (or crust) will be disappointed if they are served a low-gluten one. But if you happen to prefer the low gluten one, then just keep making it.

1

I've made pizza dough with just plain/all-purpose flour (100%) and no strong/bread at all, dozens of times. I've experienced no problems. I never made it using all strong/bread flour so can't compare using my recipe, but I see no reason, based solely on my experience, why you should need more gluten in the flour for this purpose. Since you have a lot of plain flour on hand, experiment and make just a small pizza (half batch) using 100% plain flour and see for yourself.

  • 1
    As it's a bread-maker recipe I wouldn't trust a half batch. For recipes with two sizes, there's often a slight difference in the proportions between the large and small versions, and half a batch of pizza dough might be too little to mix properly in the early stages. Also as I always stretch to the same size and in the same way a half batch would be harder to test. However I don't mind experimenting with a full batch as the chances of it being inedible are tiny. I've made other recipes with plain (as instructed) and they've been a real pain to stretch. – Chris H Aug 7 '18 at 13:59
  • 1
    @ChrisH As I don't have a bread maker and never used one, I overlooked that you were.To help with stretching out, you might wish to allow the dough to autoyse/relax just as I do when hand rolling pasta dough. Without letting it rest, the 'springback'. is difficult to work with – Cynetta Aug 7 '18 at 14:31
  • I tend to flatten/stretch a bit, then rest a few minutes, then stretch for real, with another rest/stretch step if it springs back too much or I misjudged timing (I have a 4-year-old helper so things can be unpredictable) – Chris H Aug 7 '18 at 14:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.