Specialists Focus on the Energy of Flour in Pizza Recipes

Editor’s notice: This story initially appeared within the August 2014 problem of PMQ, however the content material stays simply as related in 2023. It contains recommendation from the late Tom “The Dough Physician” Lehmann, who handed away in December 2020. Each Roberto Caporuscio and Jeff Varasano stay industry-leading pizzaioli.

By Liz Barrett

Flour—it’s the spine of your enterprise. With out it, you’d don’t have any product to promote. And but, when one thing goes incorrect along with your pizza, your flour is commonly the final place you look, in accordance with Tom “The Dough Physician” Lehmann, director of bakery help at The American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas. “Many pizzeria operators look first on the bake time or temperature when one thing goes awry,” Lehmann says. “They by no means think about that they could be utilizing the incorrect sort of flour.”

Have you learnt why you’re utilizing the flour you’re presently utilizing? Did you take a look at a wide range of flours with completely different protein ranges earlier than settling in your present flour, or do you employ it as a result of it’s what you’ve all the time used or what another person steered you employ? It’s potential that facets of your pizza—together with chew, rise and crispiness—will be improved by switching your flour. “Good pizza begins from good flour,” says Roberto Caporuscio, proprietor of Kesté Pizza & Vino and Don Antonio in New York. “Don’t take note of the price of the flour by the bag, however somewhat [measure your costs] by every dough ball.”

Style Check
Flour sort doesn’t have a direct affect on style, Lehmann says, however it may not directly have an effect on it by stopping your crust from reaching the bake traits wanted to pretty signify your pie. “New York-style pies require high-protein flours with a view to give that raised edge, chewy chunk and talent to fold,” he notes. “Neapolitan-style pizzas, then again, require a weaker flour, as an excessive amount of gluten would inhibit the rise in a high-temperature oven.”

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Fermenting time may have an enormous impact on the style of your completed product. “There are numerous elements that have an effect on a pizza, however, as a basic rule, the style is extra influenced by the kind of yeast and the fermentation cycle than it’s by the flour,” says Jeff Varasano, proprietor of Varasano’s Pizzeria in Atlanta. “Common white flour by itself doesn’t have a powerful taste, but when it’s fermented for a number of days, the yeasts add a large number of acids and sophisticated organics that create an ideal taste.”

Has your dough ever burned within the oven for no obvious motive? Some flours comprise sugar, which might trigger burning in high-temperature ovens. In response to Caporuscio, sugar content material is likely one of the causes he makes use of Italian 00 flour completely. “I can’t use American flour as a result of the sugar content material may be very excessive, and when the oven temperature is above 600°, like it’s at Kesté, the pizza burns instantly if there’s an excessive amount of sugar within the flour,” he says. “There’s extra sugar in New York-style and Sicilian-style doughs.”

Associated: 5 pizza suggestions from the Dough Physician

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The Protein Precept
Protein percentages matter so much in relation to pizza, particularly when you’re working with an oven that heats above 600°F or when you’re attempting to make deep-dish pies. “Once they’re simply beginning out, many pizzeria operators—round 30%—ask their provider for one thing referred to as a ‘pizza flour,’ like they’d ask for cake flour if making cake or bread flour if making bread,” Lehmann says. “The issue with that’s, the everyday ‘pizza flour’ has 13.5% protein, which actually solely works for New York-style pizzas. In case you attempt utilizing a 13.5% pizza flour for a deep-dish pie, you’ll get an excessive amount of crust with an excessive amount of chew. A very good, general-purpose bread flour with 11.5% to 12.75% protein will work nice in most pizza purposes.”

Most significantly, don’t swap backwards and forwards between flour manufacturers to get one of the best worth; you’re more likely to additionally get differing protein ranges that might adversely have an effect on your completed pizza. “It’s crucial to all the time ensure you’re utilizing flour with the identical protein content material, as a result of it can have an effect on every little thing else,” Caporuscio says.

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Water can complicate issues, too, as Varasano factors out, so it pays to know your flour’s moisture content material. “Regardless of feeling dry, flour will be about 15% water,” Varasano says. “Nevertheless, this may range by a number of factors. So when you’ve got a recipe that requires 62% hydration and a selected batch of flour has simply 13% water somewhat than the conventional 15%, your recipe will be off by these two factors. It’s important to be versatile and use your expertise to have a look at the feel of the dough. Flour is a pure product and may range identical to any of your produce.”

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this photo shows a New York-style cheese pizza in close-up
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What’s Your Model?
Are there sure flours that work finest for sure pizzas? The brief reply is sure, however finally, it can rely upon what sort of pizza you need to serve in addition to different elements, corresponding to oven temperature, bake time and fermentation time.

Some Neapolitan-style pizzerias are trustworthy to Italian flour, whereas others work with an American bread flour. “For Neapolitan, 00 flour is the one genuine alternative, however this isn’t to say that it’s one of the best flour for everybody,” Varasano says. “Lots of people write to me and say that they’re attempting to make a Neapolitan pizza and are utilizing 00 flour however have solely a 550°F oven. Actually, that doesn’t work in any respect. That sort of flour solely appears to work nice if you’re baking a pie in 90 seconds or much less at 800°F and up. For cooler bakes, 00 flour received’t brown correctly and received’t have an ideal texture. For my pies, which bake in about 2 minutes, 45 seconds, at about 720°F, I exploit a flour mix, which is usually bread flour (about 12% to 12.5% gluten).”

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Getting Right down to Gluten
In response to Lehmann, flour doesn’t comprise any gluten; the proteins inside the flour, when agitated by water, develop the gluten. “As flour protein content material will increase, gluten content material additionally will increase,” Lehmann says. “Nevertheless, there are cases the place the standard of flour protein is probably not the identical because the flour gluten. And since gluten is affected by the breaking down of protein, there’s a better potential for style improvement whereas protein breaks down throughout baking.”

“As most individuals know, the upper the gluten, the extra stretch you’ve in your dough,” Varasano provides. “The feel of wheat merchandise ranges so much. On the one hand, you’ve gentle truffles, and on the opposite, crusty breads like bagels and pizza. Usually, truffles use decrease gluten wheats (7% to 9%), whereas crusty breads are created from larger gluten (14% to 14.5%). Pizza is mostly made with 12% to 14.5%, with some going as little as 10% to 11%.”

So what’s your flour impact? Might a small tweak to the protein proportion of your flour be the change you’ve been searching for to take your pizza to the following degree?

Liz Barrett previously served as PMQ’s editor-in-chief and later as editor-at-large. She is now a contract author.

Alternate Flours
Seeking to do some experimenting? These various flours are principally utilized in gluten-free crusts however will also be blended in small quantities with different flours.
• Brown rice flour
• White rice flour
• Tapioca flour
• Amaranth flour
• Candy sorghum flour
• Garbanzo and fava flour
• Coconut flour
• Almond flour
• Espresso flour

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Questioning which protein proportion is correct on your pizza flour? Listed below are some widespread pointers.

Neapolitan Model Pizza: 9.5% to 11%
Chicago Deep Dish: 11% to 12.5%
Normal Objective (bread flour): 11.5% to 12.75%
New York-Model Pizza: 13.5% and up