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pizza.JPGBakeries and pastry shops in Paris have a running competition on croissants: is it bread or pastry? Boulangeries sell yeasty doughy croissants and patisseries sell flaky buttery croissants. The first step to eating a delicious croissant in Paris is to go to a patisserie, not a bread shop.

So I have always thought that pizza is firmly in the bread category — with a crisp bottom created by an extra-hot oven. Some pizzerias use an 800-degree oven to achieve crispiness. But I’ve just discovered a pastry version of pizza and, just like the pastry version of croissants, there is no question which is superior.

Thanks to Margi Kahn, our veteran teacher of bread baking classes (don’t miss her rye bread class), I learned the secret to perfect pizza, which is to use Italian 00 flour. This soft wheat flour (the opposite of durum semolina) is very fine and the dough is extremely soft during kneading. I found the dough much too delicate to roll out or toss or support a lot of sauce. But the results are tremendous; the crust is crisp on the bottom (without overbaking or burning) and crumb is light and airy. This pizza is as good as any French pastry (especially when I spread on a mound of goat cheese).

I only make one crust at a time, because I can’t stop myself from eating it. To experience fabulous pizza, join one of our upcoming pizza classes.

One Pizza Crust

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups 00 flour, approximately
  • semolina flour for dusting the pizza peel
  • toppings as desired (I suggest caramelized onions and grated parmesan cheese)

Add the yeast and honey to the warm water, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the salt and oil. Using a Danish dough whisk, stir in the 00 flour as needed until the dough can be handled. Turn the dough out on a rollpat. Knead the dough (adding more 00 flour as needed) until the dough is smooth and satiny. The dough should be slightly tacky and not dry. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for an hour.

Preheat the oven with a pizza stone to 550 degrees. Sprinkle the semolina on the pizza peel and stretch the dough out on the peel. Place toppings. Slide the dough onto the stone and bake for 5-6 minutes. Eat immediately.

2 Comments for “Is It Bread or Pastry?”  

  1. Alanna

    OMG – I’ve been wanting to find this flour forEVER! Thanks for carrying it!

  2. Kirsten

    Oh, only making one crust at a time… what a shame. (I too would gobble it all up if I made more!)

    In Margi’s last “Pizza On The Grill” class, she suggested making enough dough to freeze, then you can pull it out the morning of the day you want to use it (put in fridge to defrost), and then it only takes about 20 minutes before you can ring that dinner bell! Fast, easy, and ultimately delicious!