I had never heard of 00 flour when I first bought it. My regular grocery store had never heard of it. Even Whole Foods seemed unfamiliar with it.
Finally, after searching The Hill, Saint Louis’s Italian neighborhood, I found a grocer who carried this Italian flour. Having tried it, I’m glad I did; it makes an extraordinary pizza crust.
As Saveur notes, 00 flour is ideal for pizza crust because it is finely ground and because it has a lower gluten content than other flours. In Italy, flour is graded from 1 to 0 to 00, with 1 describing a rough grind and 00 describing the finest grind.
Gluten is the natural protein that remains when starch is removed from wheat grains. It creates the elasticity you feel when biting into a crunchy loaf of bread. The lower the protein content of the flour, the lower the gluten, and the lower the gluten, the less elasticity there will be in the dough.
American flour, to quote King Arthur Flour, “is all about gluten: Ready for action, headed for the highest rise.” 00 flour, in contrast, is much like its Italian compatriots. Laid back and mellow. With a lower protein count, it friendlier and gentler, and much easy to work with. The result is a supple, smooth, and easy to shape dough, which is why it is ideal for pizza dough, focaccia, and flatbreads.
HOMEMADE Pizza with 00 Flour
PREP TIME: 20 minutes
DOWN TIME: 1 hour
COOK TIME: 15 minutes
YIELD: Two, 10-inch Pizzas
Recipe adapted from the New York Times
WHAT TO GRAB: FOR THE DOUGH: 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast (1 envelope) 1 teaspoon sugar 1/4 cup warm water (105-115° F) 3/4 cup water 153 grams 00 flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) 153 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) and more for kneading and dusting 8 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon) 1 teaspoon olive oil FOR THE TOPPINGS: Pesto Roasted beets and squash Cherry tomatoes Mozzarella Feta Salt and Pepper to Taste 2 tablespoons olive oil
HOW YOU DO IT:
PREPARE THE DOUGH
1. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the mixture doesn’t foam, you’ll have to discard it and start over with new yeast.)
2. Add the flours, oil, salt, and remaining water to the mixing bowl. Knead with your hands until well combined, approximately 3 minutes. Let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
3. Knead the rested dough for 3 minutes. Cut into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place on a heavily floured surface, cover with dampened cloth, and let rest and rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)
MAKING THE PIZZA
4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place each dough ball on a heavily floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares.
5. Place the pizza on a well-oiled baking sheet and poke a few holes along the outer edge of the crust. Bake without the toppings, for about 2 to 4 minutes. Watch the crust carefully. This will prevent the crust from getting soggy.
ADD THE TOPPINGS
6. Flip the crust over and top the baked crust with the desired toppings. For this pizza, we used my garlic-free pesto sauce and then topped with roasted beets, roasted squash, mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, and finally some feta.
7. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the toppings are melted to your liking!