You know immediately when you take your first bite of pizza if it's going to be good. The sauce will be rich but not overpowering. The toppings will be fresh and not overcooked and limp. And the crust … if you hear that crunchy snap when you take your first bite, you know you're in the right place.

We've all had pizza that disappoints. Whether it's bland toppings or a soggy crust, we know what we want pizza to be and how rare it is to find pizza that consistently delivers a crispy crust.

The deciding factors with great pizza usually come down to the sauce, the toppings, and the foundation of it all: the crust. Choosing the best flour for pizza is no easy feat, but today, we're going to share our hard-learned knowledge about how to make a delicious crust.
Quality flour is the building block of great dough
We know many basic recipes online that just say to use all-purpose flour, and they leave it at that. However, choosing the right flour for the crispiest crust isn't as simple as going to the store and picking up the first bag of flour you see.

Flour needs to have certain specific qualities in order to lend itself to making a great pizza crust, especially if you're looking for a more traditional Italian-style pizza.

You also need flour that will give you a strong gluten mesh, meaning that your flour needs to have a higher percentage of protein. This is why bread flour is a better choice than all-purpose flour for pizza dough--it's 12-14% gluten content allows the dough to develop a very strong gluten mesh during the resting period. In contrast, highly refined all-purpose flour may only have a 9% gluten content.

Another reason that bread flour works is because you can find both highly refined bread flours to whole wheat bread flours, to everything in between. The more refined versions would be similar to Italian 00 grain, while whole wheat flour with a naturally high percentage of bran would be too dense, and therefore lead to a heavy crust.

However, a less highly refined bread flour will give you something similar to what we use in our professional pizza production, which is type 1. The type 1 flour is more complete, but not quite a whole grain, so the percentage of bran in the dough is low enough that it doesn't negatively impact the structure of the dough.

The majority of Italian pizzerias prefer type 1 flour because it results in pizza that is easier to digest without the "heaviness" that someone may feel after eating a pizza made from more refined flour.

It may be tricky to find the Type 1 flour in the USA. However, Molini Pivetti, Caputo, or King Arthur manufacture great flours for pizza you should be able to find even in the States.
The dough fermentation process
There are different techniques used for dough fermentation to achieve the best flavor and airiness of the dough.

Some start with Biga. The Biga process only adds the main ingredients of flour, water, and yeast before you leave it to rest in a refrigerator for 16-24 hours. This way, the naturally occurring enzymes in the dough have more time to break down the gluten and mature the dough.

Some prefer to add all ingredients from the beginning, including salt and olive oil, before leaving the dough to rest. Fermentation or resting of the dough is a very important process that will ultimately influence the taste and quality of your pizza crust.

Longer fermentation also requires less yeast to activate the natural fermentation process. We're able to use less than 0.8% yeast to "trigger" our flour into action, and we're sure you'll find similar results at home!

The yeast we recommend is organic, using the natural activators found in brewer's yeast or sourdough starter. And do make sure you're using active yeast at home.

This resting process also makes the dough less perishable without the need to add artificial preservatives. If you are not making pizza from scratch but using a pre-made crust, it's important to consider how the dough was made.

To preserve the authentic Italian taste for our pizza, at Donna Italia we allow our dough to ferment for 24 hours naturally. We never use preservatives, baking enhancers, or add sugar to our products.
Experiment with water
Proper hydration adds fluffiness to your final dough, but too much water may make your dough difficult to manage. It is important to strike a balance, and it takes a little bit of experimenting to find the best ratio for you.

You need at least 40% water content in pizza dough. A lack of water can make the final product too dry, while too much can make a pizza crust dense and soggy. You can have higher water contents, but you often need to add artificial baking enhancers, which is something we prefer to avoid.

We've actually found that flour that holds 50-55% water content actually leads to a crispier crust. You can achieve it by adding a few more hours to your fermentation process. But we usually don't recommend exceeding 48 hours. At some point, the yeast will eat all the sugar, and the dough becomes flat.

Don't forget to take your dough out of the refrigeration one to two hours before you are ready to make pizza. For the best results, the dough needs to return to room temperature.

If you used a Biga fermentation process, this is the time to add salt and olive oil before the final rise of your dough.
The final touches
One of our favorite touches to add to dough is granito. Granito is a particularly soft wheat flour characterized by its larger, "semolata" grain size. These characteristics help it lend a delightful extra crunchiness to the dough.

However, granito is not something you can typically pick up at the grocery store. Adding a small amount of cornmeal to the bottom and edges of your dough (i.e., anywhere you aren't putting sauce and toppings) can help you develop some of the of-so-satisfying crunches that granito offers.
Next actions:
We hope you can use our lessons learned to help you make your next pizza the best pizza you've ever made.

Now you know what goes into the perfect pizza dough-making process and how to choose the best flour, yeast, and amount of water for a delicious pizza crust. Feel free to experiment at home and better judge pizza crusts when dining out.

Suppose you're a business owner looking to take some of the guesswork out of serving consistently delicious pizza to your customers. In that case, Donna Italia is committed to helping you serve the best quality pizza to your customers.

Learn more about the benefits of a Donna Italia pizza subscription. Then, find out what other extras are included when you join the Donna Italia pizza program!

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