Jessica DeMay

Case Study: Which is the Best Flour for Pizza?

With so many ingredients to choose from, knowing which ones to include in the perfect pizza dough recipe can be difficult. We take an in-depth look at the different types of flour to determine which one should be your go-to ingredient on pizza night.

With more options available, it’s harder than ever before to know what ingredients to use in order to make the best pizza. There are hundreds of variations of sauces and toppings, but what truly makes a great pizza is the crust.

Whether you are an at-home pizza lover, a restaurant owner, or someone who is simply curious about ingredients, it’s a great idea to learn more about what goes into making a great pizza crust. More specifically, what flour should you use in your pizza crust dough?

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What Type of Flour Should You Use to Make Pizza?

Despite the long list of flours to choose from, there is only one that stands out as the best flour for making pizza: Tipo 00 flour.

While there’s no doubt that you can successfully make a tasty pizza using other types of flour, Caputo 00 is the superior choice for pizza dough. It is finely ground, has a lower gluten content than most other flours, and is made from a selection of the finest grains by the Caputo family. To make a life-changing, authentic, shockingly delicious homemade pizza, you will want to start with Caputo Tipo 00 flour.

You may be surprised to discover that there is a lot more to flour than meets the eye. There are many different types of flour and each of them should be treated differently. Before we get into deciding which flour is best for making pizza, let’s take a closer look at the different flours you have to choose from.

SummaryWhen it comes to making pizza, one type of flour reigns supreme: Caputo Tipo 00 flour.

American vs. Italian Flour

In America, as well as Canada, flours are categorized by the amount of protein they contain. In Italy, as well as other parts of Europe, flour is categorized by how finely it has been ground. A type “2” flour is the coarsest and type “00” flour is the finest.

How they are categorized is only one, albeit notable, difference between American and Italian flour. To truly understand what places Italian flour into a category all its own, we’ll have to take a more in-depth look at Italian flours.

SummaryAmerican flours are categorized based on how much protein they contain, whereas in Italy, flour is categorized by how finely it has been ground.

A Guide to Italian Flour

Italians don’t mess around when it comes to food. They take their food, and more specifically their flour, so seriously, that they passed a law in 2001 to regulate how flour is made and graded.

Italian flours are graded based on their ash content, or how much of the full wheat kernel is in the flour. To determine the ash content, a test sample of the flour is burnt in a lab and the ash that remains is measured. When more of the whole wheat grain is used to make the flour, more ash will be left behind. The more ash that is left behind, the higher the ash content of the flour.

SummaryItalian flours are graded by their ash content, or which parts of the wheat kernel are used to make the flour.

Grano Duro Flour

Grano duro, or “hard grain”, flours are made from hard wheat. They are also called “semola” flours. Grano duro flours have a slight yellow hue and are more granular. They are most commonly used for pasta and some types of bread.

The table below, as seen in the Presidential decree #187, shows the difference between several grano duro flours.

Flour Product Humidity (max.) Ash (min.) Ash (max.) Protein (min.)
Semola 14.5% - .90% 10.5%
Semolato 14.5% .90% 1.35% 11.5%
Semola integrale di grano duro 14.5% 1.4% 1.8% 11.5%
Farina di grano duro 14.5% 1.36% 1.7% 11.5%
SummaryGrano duro flours, also known as semola flours, are made from hard wheat. They are most commonly used to make pasta and some types of bread.

Grano Tenero Flour

“Grano tenero” which means “tender grain” refers to flours made from soft wheat. Grano tenero flours are white, powdery flours commonly used in pastries and bread. Soft wheat flour is the flour used most often in Italy.

Based on the most recent laws governing flour, the table below shows how the different types of soft wheat flour are classified and how they compare to flours from the US.

Flour Product (Italy) Humidity Ash (Min.) Ash (Max.) Protein Flour Product (USA)
Soft wheat flour tipo 00 14.5% - 0.55% 9% Pastry flour
Soft wheat flour tipo 0 14.5% - 0.65% 11% All-purpose flour
Soft wheat flour tipo 1 14.5% - 0.8% 12% High-gluten flour
Soft wheat flour tipo 2 14.5% - 0.95% 12% First clear flour
Soft wheat whole grain 14.5% 1.3% 1.7% 12% White whole wheat
SummaryGrano tenero flour is made from soft wheat and are most commonly used in pastries and bread.

Tipo 00 Flour

Tipo 00 Italian flours, also known as double-zero flours, are the softest, finest Italian flours. They are ground into a fine powder and are white. Compared to other Italian flours, tipo 00 flours are the most refined and have the least fiber left. “Grano tenero” 00 flours contain very little gluten.

Although tipo 00 flour is a very specific type of flour, there are different blends available. Tipo 00 flours can be purely soft wheat or they can be blended with some hard wheat. They can also contain as much as 9% protein.

SummaryTipo 00 flours, or double-zero flours, are the finest of all Italian flours. They contain the least amount of fiber of all Italian flours.

Caputo Pizzeria Tipo 00 Flour

Caputo tipo 00 pizza flour

When it comes to quality, you truly can’t beat Caputo Tipo 00 Pizza Flour. Caputo 00 flour is a very unique type of flour made by the Naples-based company Antimo Caputo. Caputo is known around the world for its high-quality pizza flours that use mostly locally-produced wheat. Antimo Caputo is one of the “approved suppliers” by the True Neapolitan Pizza Association (AVPN). While Antimo Caputo makes several types of flours, they are best-known for their Tipo 00 pizza flours.

Caputo Pizzeria is typically advertised as a pizza flour for professionals, but it’s perfectly suited to home chefs. Whether you’re making a homemade pizza in your kitchen oven or trying your new outdoor pizza stove, Caputo Tipo 00 flour is worth every penny.

SummaryCaputo Tipo 00 flour is a unique type of flour that is recognized by many professionals around the world as the best type of flour to use for pizza dough.

Cento Anna Napoletana Tipo 00 Extra Fine Flour

While Caputo reigns supreme when making pizza, Cento Anna Napoletana 00 Extra Fine Flour is the superior choice when making pasta. Its overall quality and consistency make Cento Anna flour a must-have ingredient for soft, delicate pasta like authentic Italian ravioli.

Despite shining brightest when used in a homemade pasta recipe, Cento Anna is also a more affordable option for pizza chefs looking for a high-quality double zero flour.

SummaryCento Anna Napoletana Tipo 00 Extra Fine Flour is another top choice for pizza chefs, but is arguably best-used to make pasta.

Molini Grassi 00 Flour

If your restaurant promises all-organic ingredients or you simply prefer to go the organic route within your home, Molini Grassi makes a high-quality organic 00 flour. Molini Grassi’s USDA Organic Italian 00 Soft Wheat Flour is 100% Italian and contains zero GMOs. It is produced by a family-owned mill run by the fourth generation of an Italian family in Parma, Italy. This organic 00 flour has the powdery texture you want in an authentic Italian pizza and is great for making delicate, flaky pastries.

SummaryMolini Grassi 00 Flour is the top choice for chefs who prefer to use all-organic ingredients to make their pizza.

Types of American Flour

There are many types of American flour, each with their own intended purposes. But the flours mentioned below are the ones most commonly used to make homemade pizza dough.

All-Purpose Flour

All-purpose flour is an American flour made of a blend of hard and soft wheat. It can be bleached or unbleached and contains 8% to 11% protein. Flour that has been naturally bleached as it ages is labeled “unbleached,” while flour that has been chemically treated is labeled “bleached.” Bleached flour has less protein than unbleached flour.

Bleached flour is best-used to make pie crusts, quick breads, waffles, pancakes, and cookies. Unbleached flour is best for yeast breads, puff pastry, Danish pastry, strudel, lairs, popovers, Yorkshire pudding, and cream puffs.

SummaryAll-purpose flour is made of a blend of hard and soft wheat. It is available both bleached and unbleached.

Bread Flour

Bread flour is white flour that is made from hard, high-protein wheat. It contains more gluten and protein than all-purpose flour. It contains 12% to 14% protein. Bread flour is unbleached and will sometimes be treated with ascorbic acid to increase its volume and improve its texture. Bread flour is best to use when making yeast products.

SummaryBread flour is made from hard, high-protein wheat and contains more gluten and protein than other American flours.

Cake Flour

Cake flour is a soft-wheat flour with a fine texture and a high-starch content. Of all wheat flours, cake flour has the lowest protein content (8% to 10%). Cake flour is chlorinated, which adds a slightly acidic component, that helps the cake set faster and distribute fat more evenly for improved overall texture.

Cake flour is a good option when making baked goods that contain a lot of sugar, since it can maintain its shape better than other flours. Cake flour is often used to make quick breads, cookies, and muffins.

SummaryCake flour is made from soft wheat and has a high starch content. Cake flour has the lowest protein content of all wheat flours and is ideal for baked goods that contain a lot of sugar.

Whole Wheat Flour

Whole wheat flour, also known as graham flour, is made from the whole kernel of wheat. It contains more dietary fiber and is more nutrient-dense than white flours. It doesn’t have as much gluten as other flours, so it is often mixed with all-purpose or bread flour when making yeast breads.

SummaryWhole wheat flour, or graham flour, is made from the whole wheat kernel. It has more fiber and nutrients than white flours.

Other Types of Flours

High Gluten Flour

High gluten flour, also known as high-protein flour, is a type of wheat flour that is made from grinding hard red winter and hard red spring wheats. Many high gluten flours are made only from hard red spring wheat. This unique type of flour consists of 90-95% of the wheat kernel after the bran layer has been removed. It contains more than 14% protein.

High gluten flours are ideal for optimal for chewy and crusty products, such as in a hand-tossed pizza crust. High gluten flours are often praised for their high levels of B-vitamins, mainly niacin and folic acid. 

SummaryHigh gluten flour is made from hard red winter, hard red spring wheats, or a combination of the two. High gluten flour uses almost the entire wheat kernel and is high in protein. This type of flour is great for chewy, crispy products.

Low Gluten Flour

Low gluten flour is typically made from soft wheat and is lower in protein. The lower percentage of protein in your flour, the less gluten there is. Cake flour is the type of flour with the lowest amount of gluten; it has just 7-9% gluten. Low gluten flour is best used in baked goods like pie crusts, cakes, biscuits, muffins, and cookies, because it produces a crumbly, flaky texture. Because it lacks the structure necessary for a solid pizza crust, low gluten flour typically isn’t the best option for pizza dough.

SummaryLow gluten flours are low protein flours that work best in flaky baked goods. Because the final product is crumbly and lacks structure, low gluten flours typically aren’t the best choice for making pizza crust.

King Arthur Bread Flour

King Arthur Bread Flour is 12.7% protein. It is made from 100% hard red wheat grown in America. Because of its higher protein content, King Arthur Bread Flour strengthens the rise of bread and adds extra height. It is best-used in yeast baking, for bread, rolls, pizza, and more. 

Rye Flour

Rye flour is milled from rye kernels (or rye berries) and has a fresh, nutty flavor that differs from standard wheat flour. Rye flour has very little gluten and contributes to a denser texture. 

Rye flours differ based on how much of the rye kernel is used. The more rye kernel there is, the darker the flour. The darker the flour, the more intense the rye flavor and the denser the texture. Dark rye is the ground grain without the bran and germ removed. Light rye has both bran and germ removed. 

White rye flour, sometimes called light rye, is the lightest version of rye flour available. To make white rye flours, the bran and germ are completely removed so that the flour contains only the endosperm of the rye kernel. White rye flour has a more subtle rye flavor and creates lighter, airier loaves.

Medium rye flour contains more bran than white rye and has a stronger rye flavor and darker color. It has both the lighter texture of white rye and the more robust flavor of whole grain rye flours. 

Dark rye flour is typically milled from the entire rye kernel and is therefore whole grain rye flour. But some dark rye flours will only use parts of the bran or just a little bit of the endosperm. Because there isn’t a standard classification, dark rye flour varies and it can be hard to know exactly what each flour contains. To be sure you are getting a whole grain rye flour, consider using pumpernickel flour, which contains all of the bran, endosperm, and germ of the rye kernel. Pumpernickel flour is sometimes called rye meal or whole rye flour.

SummaryRye flour, which is made from rye kernels, is a low-gluten flour with a nuttier flavor and denser texture. Depending on how much of that powerful rye flavor you want, you can opt for lighter white rye flour, or denser, darker dark rye flour. Medium rye flour provides a perfect balance of the two.

Lupin Flour

Lupin flour is a high protein, high fiber flour made entirely from sweet lupin beans. Sweet lupin beans are low in fat, gluten-free, low in the Glycemic index, and contain very little starch. 

Lupin flour is made only from sweet lupin beans so it’s also vegan and raw. It’s also low in carbohydrates; each ¼ cup serving of lupin flour has just 1g net carb. It is a popular ingredient for people on the KETO diet and can be used to make delicious low-carb pizza crust. 

However, because the lupin bean is a legume that is closely related to peanuts and soy beans, people with nut or soy allergies should avoid consuming it.

SummaryLupin flour is made entirely from sweet lupin beans. It’s high in protein and fiber, but low in carbohydrates. It’s also vegan-friendly and gluten-free. Unfortunately, if you are allergic to peanuts or soy beans, you’ll have to skip this flour, as the beans it’s made from are too closely related to those allergens.

Sorghum Flour

Sorghum flour is a gluten-free flour made from an ancient cereal grain. It has a sweet, milder flavor and is light in color. It is high in fiber, iron, protein, and B vitamins. It contains about 1 gram of fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein, and 3 grams of sugar per ¼ cup of flour. Sorghum flour is also low-glycemic, making it a great option for people with diabetes. 

To make sure you get all the health benefits of sorghum flour, look for 100% sorghum flour that hasn’t been refined, bleached, or enriched. If you’re using sorghum flour to make pizza dough, consider using a binding agent like xanthan gum or cornstarch as well as a little more oil or fat to give your dough the right texture.

SummarySorghum flour is a highly nutritional gluten-free flour made from an ancient cereal grain. It can be used to make a delicious pizza crust, as long as you add a binding agent like xanthan gum to achieve the right texture.

Durum Flour

Durum flour is most commonly used to make pasta and bread because of its high protein content and strength. Durum flour is ground from extra-hard wheat and is finely textured. It has a distinct flavor and a pale-yellow hue.  

Because durum is such a hard wheat, more thorough grinding is necessary to turn it into flour. This extensive grinding damages some of the wheat’s starch content. The damaged starch content of durum wheat flour inhibits its ability to ferment and rise. Instead, it develops greater extensibility, which is a valuable component of flours used to make pasta, rather than the elasticity that would make it more suitable for bread.

SummaryDurum flour is made from an extra-hard wheat and is high in protein. It is best suited for pasta and more rustic baking because of its inability to properly ferment and rise.

Semolina Flour: Should You Use Semolina Flour for Your Pizza Crust?

Semolina flour is made from Durham wheat. Durham is a very high protein wheat that gives your dough a significant amount of elasticity. Semolina flour is typically used to make pasta, but it works well in some baked goods like pizza crusts. While you absolutely can use semolina flour in your pizza crust recipe, the bigger and arguably the more important question is, should you?

Using semolina flour to make a pizza crust not only guarantees a heartier, chewier texture, but a bigger burst of flavor as well. The final product is a crust that is perfectly crispy on the bottom, yet chewy throughout. If you’re looking for a way to enhance your homemade pizza dough recipe, consider swapping your regular flour for semolina flour.

SummarySemolina flour is an ingredient that can truly set your pizza dough recipe apart from the rest. Its coarse texture and nutty flavor contribute to a delicious pizza crust that is crispy on the bottom with a pleasant chewy texture.

Semola vs Semolina Flour

It is a common misconception that semola and semolina are the same thing. While they are both made from durum wheat, the grind for each is different. Semolina is a high-gluten flour with a coarse texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. It looks more like corn meal than flour and has a yellowish hue. Because of its high gluten content, semolina is a great flour to use when making pasta. 

Semola is very fine or “twice milled” so it looks much more like standard flour than semolina. Semola flour will often have “semola di grano duro rimacinata” displayed on the package, which translates to re-milled durum wheat semolina. 

Both types of flour can be used to make a flavorful pizza crust, but semola flour is better for a lighter, crispier crust. However, many pizza chefs use semolina flour to prevent their dough from sticking, which adds another layer of flavor and crispiness to final product.

SummarySemola and semolina are commonly thought to be one in the same, despite one obvious difference: their texture. Semolina flours are coarse and grainy, while semola flour is fine and powdery.

Bleached vs Unbleached Flour

Most types of flour can be split into one of two categories – bleached or unbleached. Bleached and unbleached flour differ in the way they are processed, as well as their texture, taste, and appearance. 

Bleached flour is usually refined, which means that the bran and germ of the wheat kernel have been removed. This process strips the grain of many valuable nutrients and leaves only the endosperm. Unbeached flour can include any flour that may or may not have been refined. 

Both bleached flour and unbleached flour are then milled. Milling is a process wherein the grains are ground into a fine powder. 

Bleached flour is then treated with chemical agents like potassium bromate, benzoyl peroxide, or chlorine. These chemicals cause the flour to age faster, which can improve some qualities to make the flour better for baking. However, this chemical process drastically changes the texture, taste, and appearance of the flour, as well as its nutritional value. Bleached flour tends to have a whiter color, softer texture, and finer grain. Foods made with bleached flour usually have a softer texture, brighter color, and more volume than foods made with unbleached flour. 

Unbleached flour, on the other hand, naturally ages after being milled. Natural aging takes a lot longer than bleaching. Unbleached flour is included in many recipes because of its unique texture. It tends to be off-white in color because the color naturally fades during the aging process.  

Bleached and unbleached flour can both be enriched, which means they have gone through the process of having certain nutrients added back into the flour. In terms of taste, the difference between unbleached and bleached flour is minimal. If you have an especially sensitive palate, you might notice that bleached flour has a slightly bitter taste, but most people can’t tell the difference. 

While there are significant differences between bleached and unbleached flour, when it comes to baking, the differences are slight. Particularly for baked goods, the outcome is practically the same regardless of which type of flour you use.

SummaryBleached flour is treated with chemicals to speed up the aging process and has a whiter color, softer texture, and finer grain. Unbleached flour has a tougher texture, denser grain, and an off-white color. Unbleached flour will typically have more nutrients, but both types of flour produce nearly the same result when used in baked goods.

Can You Make Pizza with Pastry Flour?

Pastry flour is a type of an unbleached flour that is made from soft wheat. It has a 7.5 to 9.5 percent protein content, which means it has less protein than all-purpose flour, but more protein than cake flour. 

Pastry flour is most commonly used for pie crusts, cakes, cookies, biscuits, muffins, breads, and pancakes. When using for baked goods, pastry flour results in a final product that is tender, finer, and flakier. For this reason, you may want to avoid using pastry flour to make pizza dough, because it lacks the structure necessary to hold your pizza crust together. 

That said, it is possible, albeit difficult, to make pizza dough with pastry flour if you know what you’re doing. Whole wheat pastry flour is your best bet for satisfying results.

SummaryBecause pastry flour likes the structure of other types of flour used to make pizza, you’ll probably want to avoid using it in your next pizza dough recipe. However, if you’re feeling ambitious, reach for whole wheat pastry flour.

How to Store Your Flour

A sack of flour is a pantry staple, but for proper storage, that paper bag may not be the way to go. A standard paper sack can allow moisture to get in, as well as small bugs and pests. To keep your flour as fresh as possible and away from pests, follow these steps:

  • When you get home from the grocery, place your new bag of flour in the freezer for two days. This will kill any tiny pests or eggs that may have gotten into the flour before you brought it home. 
  • After 48 hours, pour the flour into an airtight container. 
  • You can then store the container of flour in your pantry or another cool, dry place. Flour can be stored for at least a year. 
  • If you live in a humid climate or your house tends to be warm, consider storing your flour in the freezer or fridge. 
SummaryTo keep your flour fresh and pest-free, put it in the freezer for 48 hours as soon as you bring it home from the grocery. Then, transfer the flour to an airtight container and store in a dry, cool area of your home.
Jessica DeMay
Jessica is the lead content creator of Dishcrawl. She has lived in Italy (Napoli) for 7 years and has since become absolutely obsessed with pizza.
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