Flour can make all the difference in pizza crust

Flour can make all the difference in pizza crust

There are so very many options for pizza in our area, many of the shops being around for as long as any of us can remember.

There are stories of buying pizzas from the kitchen window of a house during school lunchtime. There are the places that were supplying pizza during the Great Depression, and lots of new places and chains have joined the fray.

I can’t imagine too many pizzas I wouldn’t like, except for that revolting pineapple thing and I’m not a fan of white pizza or toppings like broccoli or kale. I love a good sauce, but there are other ways to get a really fresh tomato flavor on your pie.

We had a great margherita pizza on a trip to New York a few years ago and have been unsuccessful since in replicating the thin, crisp, cooked all the way through but not too toasted crust until recently.

You have to remember I’m learning about food every day, the same as you, and I was unaware of double zero flour until this year. This flour is the magic in getting a thin-crust pizza, though it takes some attention and fiddling.

Double zero flour is a super finely ground flour from Italy, also called doppio zero or 00. Along with all-purpose and bread flour, I now try to keep 00 flour on hand all the time.

Here in the United States, we grade flour on protein content. In Italy flour is categorized by how finely ground it is. There, 2 flour is course, and 00 is the finest, with protein content varying widely as it isn’t in play as a marker. In fact, there isn’t a huge difference between regular old all-purpose flour and fancy Italian 00, but the result I’ve found using the latter seems much harder to get with the former.

We’ve prebaked our crust before baking and also have just loaded up the raw dough without a first run through the hot oven, and it seems a short prebake adds crispness and helps to avoid a sodden center. If you get it right, when you cut a slice and hold it horizontally, the center stands out straight rather than drooping like last month’s spinach.

The biggest problem with stocking 00 flour at home is finding it, and you’ll probably need to order it online. Let me prepare you by saying it ain’t no $3 bag of Gold Medal. For most of the brands you’ll find, it’s priced at around $8 for 2.5 pounds. Fortunately, you’re not likely to use it as quickly as other flours, so it will last a while.

If you like to make pizza at home and want to experiment with different doughs and styles, it’s worth having a few different kinds of flour to work with on hand.

A margherita pizza, at least the way I make it, is just sliced fresh Roma tomatoes, chunks of Mozzarella cheese and big, fresh basil leaves. I like to add minced fresh garlic, salt and pepper, and a tiny dusting of dried oregano. Extra virgin olive oil is a delicious finish, but you’ll probably want to save it until after baking to avoid dampening the crust you’re trying to hard to keep crispy.

Some recipes specify a mixture of 00 flour and bread flour. This one, from King Arthur Baking and for Neapolitan pizza dough, uses just 00. Let the experiments begin.


Makes 2 medium-sized pizzas.

2 cups 00 flour

1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

3/4 cup water, lukewarm, 105-115 F

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the water. Mix until fully incorporated but still rough. Do not knead. Cover the bowl and allow to rise for at least 12 and as many as 24 hours at room temperature, undisturbed.

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, fold the first piece of dough onto itself, working from the edges to the center. Repeat with the second piece, forming each into a ball. Cover with a bowl and let rise another 45 minutes. The dough is then ready for shaping and stretching. Bake at the hottest setting your oven can reach for 3 minutes before topping if desired. Overall baking time with toppings is about 6-10 minutes.

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