If you tend to just buy a big sack of all-purpose flour and make it work for everything -- cakes, breads and even pizza dough -- you could be missing out. Take your lead from tradition, and work with Italian “00” flour. The oldest pizzeria in Naples, the 180-year-old Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, uses “doppio zero," or "00." It’s the tradesman's secret to supple, elastic dough -- perfect for air tosses before being rolled out and baked.
The ‘Doppio Zero’ Difference
Also called “doppio zero,” for double zero, this figure refers to the fine grind of the flour. Imported “00” contains a high gluten content of around 11 to 12 percent, giving it good elasticity. American clone versions contain around 8 percent gluten. And technically speaking, it’s “extensible” rather than elastic: once stretched, it’s designed to to remain in a large, flat disc rather than shrink back down to a puck of dough.
A Practical Compromise
High-end Italian pizza flour is often prepared and discussed with the seriousness of fine wine. If the price turns you off, consider bread flour as an alternative. Artisan bread writer Peter Reinhart acknowledges that a true Napoletana pizza requires double zero flour -- but adds that top American pizzerias do very well indeed with bread flour, especially for New York-style pies. And if you want a firm crust suitable for grilling, try a semolina flour. And even humble all-purpose flour can work fine for a regular at-home pizza, too.
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