The good news/bad news story of an American flour that will change your homemade pizza and change your life. (At least for a moment.)
“A blog post about flour? Hey, exciting! Way to get everyone all worked up on a Saturday afternoon!
“Come quick! Look! He’s writing about flour! This may never happen again! Get the kids! Oh, the humanity! Dogs and cats living together!”
I promise you, I would not be bringing up a subject like flour unless it was a life-changing proposition on a par with, say, trying a new shampoo or using a new brand of motor oil.
This flour is gonna make your head spin off its carriage bolt and fly to Naples.
If you’ve read my weird little book about how to make pizza, you may recall that King Arthur is my go-to brand for flour. I recommend King Arthur products because they’re easy to find and their quality is excellent.
In the book, I offer a recipe for a Neapolitan-style dough using King Arthur All-Purpose Flour because that dough is as simple as it gets (water, flour, salt and yeast), and the flour is readily available (though not a requirement).
(SIDEBAR: I do love that there’s a troll out there who wrote a one-star review of my book because “It leads you to believe that all purpose flour is the ultimate solution for pizza. Skip this piece of garbage.” It leads you to believe nothing of the kind. I clearly explain that the choice of all-purpose flour was predicated on easy availability in a time when panicked preppers were hoarding bread flour by the truckload so they could pull out their dusty bread machines and crank out mediocre loaves of illusory comfort on their respective paths to pandemic poundage. And not only does the James-Beard-award-winning Peter Reinhart suggest all-purpose flour for his Neapolitan-style pizza recipe, but I was just at Pizzeria Beddia in Philly—The Best Pizzeria In The Country by some standards—and guess what flour they were using? Yep: all-purpose. Garbage, indeed! But I digress.)
It’s possible to make yourself crazy by trying to determine the “best” flour. I’ve spent time doing it, and I’ll do it again. I do these things so you don’t have to.
I also keep ending up right back at King Arthur’s table—which is where we are today.
Hello, King Arthur 00 Pizza Flour!
I swear to you, this was the biggest surprise in pizza flour I’ve ever experienced. I tried it several months ago, and just tried it again. Love it.
This flour yielded a pizza crust with a crunch unlike any other I’ve ever produced from a home oven.
Seriously. I rank this as one of the top five most interesting pizza surprises to come out of an oven.
Surprise Number One remains the time I pushed my wood-fired Earthstone oven past 900 degrees. It baked a neo-Neapolitan pizza in about the time it took you to read this sentence. It was transformtive.
What was surprising about this effort with King Arthur 00 is that this is the simplest possible change to your dough.
It’s just a different flour. It requires no adjustment to anything, no extra effort, no math, nothing.
And the pizza you get is satisfyingly crisp and makes you say, “Wow. I made that?”
If you’re interested to know why it works, it’s the wheat King Arthur is using. King Arthur 00 Pizza Flour is a blend of hard red wheat and soft wheat. But that’s all it says on the label.
Seeking more intel, I emailed King Arthur.
David in Customer Service was good enough to tell me that “Our 00 Pizza Flour is a proprietary blend of soft and hard wheat at the fine 00 grind with moderate protein at 11.5% which in testing yielded the best strength and tenderness in our pizza recipes.
“A higher protein hard wheat flour despite the fine grind may give a denser, less crisp and tender texture.”
Well, “crisp and tender” is about as succinct a description of the result as one could hope for.
I thought, Let’s test customer service. Let's see what else they’re willing to say.
I replied that I’d be writing a blog post about the flour this morning, and is there anything else King Arthur would like a customer to know about this flour?
Instead of David, I had a reply from Laurie.
Laurie said, “This pizza flour is created to perform perfectly in a Neapolitan-style pizza. If you’re looking for a soft and fluffy, focaccia-like pizza dough, we suggest using our standard AP.”
In case you’re interested, AP is the industry-standard initialization of “all purpose.”
Laurie went on to let me know that “The packaging can be recycled in certain municipalities but most consumers do not have access to these recycling capabilities. Knowing sustainability is important to both us and our consumers, we are continuing to investigate a sustainable packaging solution.”
Wow. I didn’t even try to guilt them into admitting the plastic bag with the zipper-lock seal isn’t easily recycled, and she went right there!
Welcome to the sustainability self-flagellation moment from your favorite, employee-owned flour producer in the great, green state of Vermont.
So, the packaging aside, this flour is a great addition to your pizza-making arsenal. Though I will take some small issue with their assertion that it performs “perfectly in a Neapolitan-style pizza.”
This flour is a formulation for those of us who are NOT working under hot, sweaty, Neapolitan-style conditions.
That means we are not making a lower-hydration dough baked in a 900-degree wood-fired oven and topped with San Marzano tomatoes and bufala mozzarella—among other very particular rules for Neapolitan separatists and pizza-making anal retentives.
I am also not a big fan of Neapolitan-style pizza. I don’t like the soft, wet, floppy nature of it.
I’ve had some excellent Neapolitan pizzas—but my favorites have always been those made by American iconoclasts who are raising the bar while breaking the rules and turning out a glorious product, such as Chris Bianco in Phoenix and Nancy Silverton in Los Angeles and beyond.
When you use this flour and the method in my book (known generally as The Broiler Method—it’s not like I invented it), the pizza is delightful.
And yes, there is a downside: This flour is expensive. (That’s the bad news part of the story here.)
I checked today’s prices in the local Walmart. King Arthur 00 Pizza Flour is almost exactly 100% more expensive than King Arthur All-Purpose Flour.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s still not a lot of money. But I know how relative costs can cause a peptic ulcer for those of us who suffer from genetic cheapness. (My ancestors were Scottish. If you don’t know, copper wire was invented by two Scots fighting over a penny.)
That said, if you put the cost of this flour up against the cost of a commercially available mediocre delivery pizza, it’s still a bargain.
Do you want to try King Arthur 00 Pizza Flour?
The most reasonable price I’ve found online is Amazon, as long as your order qualifies for Prime or free shipping. If you can find the flour locally in your supermarket, fantastic.
If you don’t have my book and want it, you can get it here.
If you don’t want my book, but you’d like to try my dough recipe, you can email me here and I will send the recipe to you personally. (I recommend this only if you’re already literate in making pizza. If you’ve never made pizza, you need to know that pizza is not about recipes. Pizza is practice and requires a degree of methodology beyond the recipe.)
If you decide to follow me down this rabbit hole, I’d love to hear about your experience with this flour. Again, feel free to email me. It’s always fun to get email from pizza geeks of any level.
Have you embarked on your pizza adventure yet? If you’re thinking about spinning flour, water, salt and yeast into cheesy discs of delight, check out my simple and silly how-to manual for making pizza happen: Free The Pizza—A Simple System For Making Great Pizza Whenever You Want With The Oven You Already Have.
Blaine Parker is the award-winning author of the bestselling, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza. Also known as The Pizza Geek and "Hey, Pizza Man!", Blaine is fanatical about the idea that true, pro-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After 20 years of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks like you. Are you ready to pizza?
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