There are so many ingredients that can make or break a pizza but the most important part of the pizza is the crust and that comes from having the perfect dough. The most important ingredient in a pizza dough is of course flour. Having the right flour is crucial to make the best dough for the best crust. Here are some of the popular types of pizza and the flour we recommend, and alternative flours to use that give them their taste and texture to achieve that perfect bite:
Best flour for New York style pizza
Recommended Flour: 00 Flour.
If you’re like me, I’m from New York, so thin and crispy is the way to go. You need to be able to knead and spread the pizza nice and thin (see pizza pictured above) and the texture is perfectly crispy and not too soggy. Thin and crispy texture that will hold its own against the wet sauce and mozzarella plus additional toppings. The finer texture of flour, the less time for kneading for easier shaping for the thin and crispy texture. New York Style Pizza has a high cheese and sauce ratio compared to most pizza types. That is why you want the dough to be stiff in elasticity due to its minimal thickness to prevent the pizza becoming soggy and still keep that delightful crispy buttery texture. That is why we recommend using 00 flour.
Pizza Chef, World Renown Pizza Acrobatics Champion and author of The Pizza Bible, Tony Gemignani for his Master Dough recipe says to choose a “high performance” flour which will affect shaping and tossing for crispy, tender, divine texture. As an alternative, we recommend AP Flour but, you will have to knead it a lot more to develop the high gluten, high elasticity you need to shape the dough properly for the thickness and texture for the perfect crispy crust we love. Paired with the perfect sauce, low-moisture mozzarella and classic toppings and seasonings, you’ll bite into the perfect slice of pizza and it’ll be an experience that will change your life.
Best flour for Chicago Style Pizza
Recommended Flour: All-Purpose Flour.
Also known as deep dish pizza, requires a lot of kneading plus should have a high protein/gluten content for its taste and texture. This style of pizza is the close resemblance of a “pizza pie” so the dough needs to have the right flour for forming and shaping in the pan. Since this type of pizza requires more ingredients topping wise, it’s important for the flour to hold its shape and texture without absorbing the liquids from the sauce, cheese and toppings, especially meat toppings releasing all their juices in the oven. Also Chicago Style pizza requires a different pan compared to New York Style. AP Flour along with kneading and some chilling time will create the perfect ball of dough for pounding and shaping into the deep dish pan. Even though the crust will rise in the oven, the knead and shape of this dough is crucial for the perfect thickness of crust and light-airy texture. King Arthur Baking, recommends Unbleached All-Purpose Flour for texture and presentation for the style that resembles the “pizza pie.”
The recommended alternative is Whole Wheat Flour for its super high protein content and stiffer texture for shaping in the deep dish pan plus, it also requires similar kneading, baking temperature and baking time. This flour will also achieve that thick “pie” crust needed for Chicago Style Pizza. With any pizza however, there is nothing wrong with brushing the outside of the crust with a little melted butter seasoned with garlic, salt, and oregano especially for Chicago Style Pizza.
Best flour for Neapolitan Pizza
Recommended Flour: 00 Flour
Neapolitan Pizza originated in Naples, Italy and is also a thin crust pizza. Its recipe is very similar to a New York Style pizza in which a crispy thin crust is essential. Neapolitan Pizza however, requires more of a finer texture of the flour so some recipes recommend going through a sifter once and even twice to achieve that texture or flour. This is very important when you are making the most popular Neapolitan Pizza variant Margherita Pizza which has sliced tomatoes, basil, and sliced (not shredded) fresh mozzarella as toppings. Neapolitan Pizza also does not have a lot of yeast added to the dough due to its lack of rising. Masterclass recommends to use 00 and AP Flour for dusting to enhance the taste and texture even more.
As an alternative, we recommend AP Flour but, similar to New York Style, it has to be kneaded much longer to develop the high protein content it needs for its super thin crust and crispy texture. AP Flour also has to be run through a sifter a few more times than 00 flour to achieve that fine, coarse, thin texture for the crust. Neapolitan pizza is so thin, that it’s one of the pizza’s that might have to be eaten with a fork and knife. Consistency is also important when baking especially at high temperatures to prevent burning due to its thin crust. That is why this pizza is commonly baked in a woodfired or coal based pizza oven or grilled but only left for a shorter amount of time depending how high the heat is in the oven. This pizza style has the perfect texture in cooking inside a wood-fire oven to achieve the char that will enhance the taste and texture.
Best flour for Sicilian Pizza
The Perfect Flour: AP Flour
For Sicilian Pizza, the crust should be thick with a light sponge-like texture that when you press your fingers in, it should bounce back. Protein content is essential for Sicilian pizza for that texture. Masterclass recommends to let the dough proof in the pan before applying the toppings but, be mindful of the amount of topping to avoid the dough collapsing. You can run the flour through a sifter for better kneading and developing the light spongy texture. We recommend 1-2 times for Sicilian Pizza. Of course no Sicilian Pizza is complete without the line of baked cheese perfectly placed on the edge of the crust.
As an alternative, we recommend Pastry or Bread Flour prepared similarly to AP Flour to achieve that thick, sponge, pillowy consistency. The crunch, flavor, and taste of this crust will blow your mind.
Best flour for Pan Pizza
Recommended Flour: Bread Flour/Pastry Flour
Pan Pizza is what helped Pizza Hut launch their billion dollar pizza chain worldwide. Pan pizza is all about the perfect rise and the buttery, crispy bottom crust. The dough similar to Sicilian Pizza has to rise and proof in the pan greased with butter. Most recipes use a cast-iron pan or a pan with high heat resistance to assist in the perfect bake of crust at 450 degrees for about 35 minutes lifting the crust 15 minutes in to check the bottom with a heat resistant spatula to check for burn prevention. James Beard Award Winning Chef and author of The Elements of Pizza, explains that Pan Pizza all the elements crust, toppings, and cheese reach their perfect point of baking at the same time. Finding the ideal rack position in the oven will help achieve that.
As an alternative, we recommend AP Flour but for that rise, light, texture similar to Sicilian Pizza, you will have to knead, shape, and bake for longer depending on the oven temperatures. The perfect bite of pan pizza will have your tastebuds screaming Bravissimo!
Best flour for California Style Pizza
Recommended Flour: 00 Flour.
California style pizza has a thin crust but more toppings compared to most types. California Style pizza is known to have a high veggie topping where shape and consistency of the dough is crucial with its signature thin and crispy texture. That is why we recommend 00 flour for its finer granular texture, protein content for kneading and shaping, and its high temperature resistance and low baking time to prevent the vegetables from overcooking releasing their liquids for a soggy crust.
As an alternative, we recommend Rice Flour. California Style Pizza is a common variant of pizza to experiment with recipes using gluten free flours. If that is the route to go, the gluten free type closely resembling 00 flour will be Rice Flour. However, no gluten is no protein so kneading, shaping, baking temperature and baking time are going to be longer and require more work in preparation. To achieve that fine, coarse, granular texture needed for the thin crust, an increase of sifter use may be needed for Rice Flour. Where you will see the benefit of rice flour is in the presentation taste, and structure of the pizza crust when the final product is complete. Since California is one of the more healthier states, using gluten free flour would not be a crime in this case.
While the dough is the most important component of pizza, you also have to be mindful of the sauce and toppings to prevent the pizza from becoming wet and soggy causing the pizza to droop