Are you wondering what is the best flour for homemade pizza? Most importantly, is it possible to make a great Italian pizza at home? The short answer is YES!
But to make a great pizza you need to have great ingredients and flour IS the most important ingredient!
Is it Possible to Make an Excellent Italian Pizza at Home?
Pizza is the most loved Italian dish in the world – the “Verace Pizza Napoletana” in particular.
The authentic Neapolitan pizza was officially recognized in 2010 as a guaranteed traditional specialty. It was declared an intangible heritage of humanity by Unesco in 2017.
Neapolitan pizza has special characteristics that make it unique. It must have a diameter of about 30 cm (12 inch). The raised edge “cornicione” should be 1-2 cm (1/2 – 3/4 inch) wide swollen, obtained thanks to a particular processing of the dough.
The dough must rise twice for a period varying from 8 to 24 hours. Finally, it must be rapidly baked at high temperature in a wood-fired oven.
With these requirements, it’s obvious that it’s not possible to get a real Neapolitan pizza at home with domestic ovens.
Homemade pizza is necessarily different from that of professional pizza makers. However, it’s certainly possible to get a great result even at home with the right tricks and tips. Starting from the choice of the best flour for homemade pizza.
Just have a look:
- Authentic Italian Pizza Dough Recipe
- Quick Pizza Dough Recipe
- Tomato Focaccia Recipe
- Homemade Crusty Italian Bread
How Many Types of Wheat Flour are There?
The choice of the type of flour and its characteristics, including strength and absorption, are very important parameters for the preparation of pizza.
Wheat is transformed into flour by successive processing steps. The more the flour is sifted the more refined it becomes. According to the refining rate of the grain, soft wheat flours are distinguished in five types: “00”, “0”, “1”, “2” and whole wheat.
In this order, the different types of flour have a gradually increasing quantity of bran and germ. Type “00” flour is the most refined and comes from the inner part of the wheat grain. Type “2” flour is the most similar to whole wheat flour, as it contains all the parts of the milled grain.
Flours having a higher degree of sifting are white and soft and particularly rich in starch.
On the contrary, flours with only one milling process are darker and have a higher quantity of fibers, vitamins, proteins, fats and enzymes, substances contained in the most external part of the grain.
“00” flour is the most refined flour of all. It’s obtained by using a modern milling process through steel cylinders. The refining process removes all the best parts of wheat, nutritionally speaking.
In fact in 00 flour are discarded the bran, rich in fibers, and the germ of wheat, rich in vitamins, mineral salts and amino acids. All this in order to make the flour whiter and more easily workable.
All that is left is starch, which is nothing but a simple carbohydrate, and few proteins known as gluten.
This flour, despite its poor nutritional characteristics, is the most used in bakery products, mainly because it’s considered a pure and easily digestible product. Moreover it allows a better workability and shortens processing times.
It’s slightly less refined than the previous one, however it has been deprived of most of its nutritive elements.
Despite this, it’s richer in proteins than type 00, but even here the noble parts of wheat are discarded.
FLOUR “1” and “2”
Flours of type 1 and 2 are very similar to each other, but they differ for the size of the grains passed through the sieve.
First of all the wheat is entirely milled, without eliminating any part. Then, by means of a sieve operation, the flour is separated according to the size of the “granules”.
Type 1 flour contains a smaller quantity of bran and wheat germ, which are removed because of their bigger size during the sieving phase.
While type 2 flour, also known as “semi-integral” flour, is a flour characterized by large granules. Moreover it has a higher quantity of fibrous components and seed germ than the previous ones.
It’s a flour having excellent nutritional characteristics and it’s easier to work than whole wheat flour.
WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR
Whole wheat flour is undoubtedly the best in terms of nutrition, especially if it’s stone milled. Millstones working at low speed don’t overheat flour, leaving intact all the nutritive principles.
These flours have the great advantage of keeping intact all the nutrients present in the germ, the “soul” of grains, source of minerals, amino acids and vitamins, and in the bran, the most external part, which contains fibers.
Generally speaking whole wheat flour is much more difficult to work, mainly because of two reasons.
The first one is because of the grain size of flour, which does not allow gluten to bind with the same ease.
The second one is that, despite the fact these flours have a higher presence of proteins, they do not favor leavening because they are derived from bran.
For this reason during the step of making pizza dough, you may find yourself dealing with a more fragile product. While in the preparation step you will notice a greater tendency of the dough to sag.
What Characteristics Should Pizza Flour Have?
As you may have noticed, every flour has both positive and negative aspects.
In order to evaluate the characteristics of a flour it’s not enough to know what the name written on the package means. In fact, it can change according to the brand used or the country where it was milled.
It’s also necessary to know how to read the label of the characteristics of the product. In fact, this can give us very important information which are useful both for the choice of flours and for the correct calculation of leavening times.
W: Strength of the Flour
More important than the degree of flour refinement is the strength factor, indicated with the letter W.
The strength of flour is a parameter determined by the percentage of proteins which make up gluten.
These proteins are the structure of the dough, supporting it and making it rise for a long time without deflating.
In general we can talk about:
WEAK FLOUR with W up to 170. They absorb 50% of water on their weight and are used for waffles, breadsticks, cookies.
MEDIUM FLOURS with W between 180 and 260. They absorb between 55 and 65% of water on their weight. Suitable for bread with oil and for certain types of pizza that rise in a short time, thin pizzas such as Neapolitan.
STRONG FLOURS with a W between 280 and 350. They absorb up to/over 75% of their weight in water and are ideal for long rising pizzas.
This information is unfortunately not written on the packaging of many flours you can find in supermarkets.
In this case you can get around it by referring to the percentage of protein and adjust according to that.
Pay Attention to the Percentage of Proteins
Weak flours have a protein range of 8 to 10%; medium and strong flours range from 11 up to 14 -15%. How to use this value? What does it really tell us?
Well, if you want to prepare a product without yeast or that rise only during baking, such as a cake or cookies, the choice should be made on weak flours, poor in proteins.
On the contrary, in case you are looking for a flour to prepare a product which requires a long leavening time, the choice should be made on flours having a protein content from 12% up.
In case you want to prepare a demanding leavened product, rich in fats or eggs, then it’s necessary to use a strong flour with a minimum protein content of 14%.
These are obviously general indications, related to a conscious choice of the product suitable for your needs. The recipe does the rest.
You should know that during the kneading phase, the gluten contained in the flour, mixed with water, forms the glutinic mesh. This is nothing more than a net inside which are trapped the gases produced by yeasts during the leavening phase.
In few words, the one who keeps gases inside the dough is the glutinic mesh. Therefore the higher the quantity of proteins, the higher the strength of the flour and therefore its resistance to leaven in time.
Bottom Line: What’s the Best Flour for Homemade Pizza Dough (That You can Find at the Grocery Store)?
As we have seen, there are many types of flour on the market. But we can say that the most used flour for making pizza is wheat flour type “00”, with a medium-high W strength or a protein content from 11-12% up.
Obviously the choice of a good mill is essential in order to make a quality product.
The most known brands of flour in Italy are certainly La Caputo (Antimo Caputo Pizzeria 00 Flour) and Le 5 Stagioni. They have at their disposal many varieties of flour for pizza. These flours differ one from each other according to the strength -W- and other technical characteristics.
Obviously these mills are among the most known ones, but this does not take away the fact that there are others, sometimes of even better quality.
In fact, according to the area where you are, we suggest you to consult with local flour suppliers or flour mills. They will direct you towards flours suitable for the type of product you want to create.
And we’ve provided you with lots of useful information to help you make your choice.
Manitoba flour is a special flour derived from a soft wheat originating in Canada.
It has a high protein content which gives it a great strength and elasticity.
Manitoba is a particularly cold place in Canada; not cold enough to inhibit the growth of wheat, but cold enough not to allow the growth of grains originating in mild environments.
The resistance to Canadian cold of this wheat is given by the high percentage of proteins and gluten. In particular, the latter functions as an indispensable defense mechanism of the plant, mainly in the period in which the seed falls to the ground and it must sprout the first leaves and the first roots in order to give life to a new plant.
As a consequence, the high presence of gluten, allows the use of Manitoba in recipes with long leavening times and it’s perfect for doughs rich in fats and sugars, such as Panettone, or doughs which need a high elasticity, such as cheese focaccia or high pizza recipes.
Of course, you can purchase Manitoba flour if you plan to make something that requires a long rise. Consequently, if you plan to let a pizza dough rise for hours, Manitoba flour must be present in at least part of the dough.
Nowadays, “Manitoba flour” conventionally means all “strong” flours, with a high percentage of protein. Often on the market we can find Manitoba in the form “00” and “0”.