The most important factor for great pizza dough is the flour. The type of flour you use will impact the properties of your dough. It’s therefore important to choose a high-quality flour that gives the dough characteristics you’re looking for. Traditional, Italian pizza dough is elastic and stretchy to work with, and gets crispy on the outside and soft on the inside when baked in the oven. To achieve this double zero flour.
What is Double Zero Flour?
Double zero flour, also called Tipo 00 flour, is Italian-milled wheat flour. Double zero (00) indicates how finely refined the flour is. There are four levels in the Italian scale: 2, 1, 0, and 00. 00 is the finest milled flour, and 2 is coarsest. Double zero flour is of higher quality and has the least amount of brand and wheat middlings. It can be made from a variety of different types of wheat, both soft and hard. The protein/gluten content will vary depending on the type of wheat the flour is made from, but it mostly ranges from 8-12%. For pizza baking higher protein flour made from harder wheat, such as durum, is more beneficial.
When you’re baking Italian-style pizza, you want a flour with a protein content of around 10-12% to get an elastic dough. This will create a soft stretchy dough that’s easy to shape
Gluten in Pizza Flour
To understand why you want a high protein flour for pizza you need to understand how gluten works. Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat. When you mix flour with water and start kneading the dough, gluten strands start to form. When you keep stretching and kneading the dough, the strands are getting longer and stronger. The result is stretchy and elastic pizza dough.
During kneading, small pockets will form in the dough. When the yeast starts to produce gas, during fermentation, the gases are trapped in these pockets. This process is what we call rising.
The more you knead the dough, the more the gluten develops. More gluten development means that the dough will get a crispier texture during baking because the gluten proteins are hardening when they are heated.
Strength of the Flour and the W Index
An important factor when you’re baking pizza is the strength of the dough. The strength of the flour is determined by the protein’s ability to develop.
The W Index
The strength of the flour is usually measured in the unit “W”, measured using a Chopin Alveograph. A Chopin Alveograph is a tool for measuring quality of dough and was developed by Marcel Chopin in 1920.
The W index is proportional with the amount of gluten in the dough. A high W value means more gluten and a lower W value means less. With more gluten, the dough will retain more CO2. The reason is that the stronger gluten walls traps the gas produced during the fermentation process.
A higher W value means the dough requires longer fermentation time. It also means the dough will keep its shape and structure for longer. This means that a stronger flour is a better choice for slow fermentation. It’s therefore ideal for Neapolitan pizza, which typically is left to rise for 8-24 hours.
How Strong Flour Is Ideal for Pizza Baking?
The ideal strength for pizza flour depends on how long you want to rise the dough. If you want to do a fast fermentation you want a low W flour, and for long, slow fermentation you want a higher W flour.
Most flours don’t print the W value on the package, so I’ve made a table of the best flours for different fermentation times:
|Fermentation Time||Ideal Flour||Strength (W)||Ideal Hydration|
|4-24 hours||Caputo Classica||W 220-240||60-70%|
|12-36 hours||Caputo Pizzeria|
|24-48 hours||Caputo Chef’s Flour||W 300-320||65-75%|
Optimal Dough Hydration
The optimal dough hydration also varies depending on the type of flour, because the water absorption varies. But a good starting point is 65% hydration.
Double Zero vs All-Purpose Flour for Pizza Baking
The higher protein content is the main benefit of the double zero flour over regular all-purpose flour. It is also finer, which helps the forming of gluten and makes the dough more elastic. A more elastic dough is also easier to work with. Making a thin, even pizza with all-purpose flour is a lot harder. The strength of double zero flour also allows longer fermentation times, which is great for developing flavors. Another benefit of double zero flour is that the pizza crust gets crispier during baking because of the hardening of the gluten. Therefore double zero is a better choice for baking Italian pizza.
If you’ve ever tried, you can feel the difference when you’re kneading the dough. The finer Tipo 00 flour absorbs water better, and the dough will end up stretchier. It’s also much more pleasant to work with. The dough also tears less when it’s made with a high quality double zero flour.
The Best Double Zero Pizza Flour
The most important things when you choose double zero flour is that get a high quality flour, and that it’s strong enough.
Antimo Caputo is one of the best-known producers of Italian Tipo 00 flour. They have a good reputation for their high-quality pizza flour both by the local pizzerias in Naples, as well as amongst chefs all around the world. Caputo 00 Flour is therefore the perfect flour both for professionals and home chefs that are serious about their pizza baking!
I agree with the local pizzaiolo of Naples, my top pick is therefore Caputo Pizzeria Tipo 00 Pizza Flour. Caputo Pizzeria is Caputos professional series pizza flour. The flour is a special blend of high-quality wheat meant for long rise dough baked in high-temperature wood-fired ovens.
Even though Caputo Pizzeria is advertised as a professional pizza flour, it’s also perfect for home chefs. It works great for homemade pizza baked on a pizza stone or pizza steel.
Check out my full article on Caputo Pizzeria for more information.
Another great alternative if you’re looking for longer more than 24 hours rising is Caputo Tipo 00 Chef’s Flour. This pizza is designed for baking in lower temperature home ovens, rather than wood-fired ovens. But when I’m baking pizza on my pizza steel, like I do most of the time, I don’t notice any difference. Price-wise they are also very similar. It can’t go wrong either way!
If you want to know more about Antimo Caputo and their pizza flours, check out our article Caputo 00 Flour: Everything You Need to Know.
In conclusion, double zero flour is the type of flour used in Italy for a good reason. It’s just a lot more pleasant to work with than all-purpose flour, or other types of coarser flour. There are also no other flours that make the crust as light and crispy during baking. You should go for a high-quality flour if you want to make the perfect pizza, double zero is therefore the best choice for pizza baking.