Difference Between Bread Dough and Pizza Dough

Have you ever pondered the distinction between pizza dough and bread dough? In truth, there are notable differences between the two, but they also share numerous similarities.

Throughout history, bread and pizza dough have been incredibly interchangeable. Many baking enthusiasts have wondered if it’s possible to substitute one for the other.

The primary reason behind this curiosity lies in the fact that bread and pizza dough share similar ingredients.

To gain a better understanding of how to handle each type of dough and when it might be feasible to interchange them, it is essential to comprehend the differences between bread dough and pizza dough.

In essence, the fundamental ingredients of basic bread dough and pizza dough are identical – flour, water, salt, and possibly oil, along with a leavening agent.

However, it is the ratios or formulation of these ingredients that distinguish pizza dough from bread dough. Typically, bread dough tends to have a higher water-to-flour ratio compared to pizza dough.

It’s worth noting that pizza dough is not limited to making pizza crust alone, and similarly, bread dough offers more possibilities than meets the eye.

Ultimately, whether you opt for commercial yeast or a sourdough starter as the leavening agent, pizza will remain pizza and bread will remain bread.

Therefore, the differences and similarities between pizza dough and bread dough persist, regardless of your choice of leavening agent.

Is Bread Dough the Same as Pizza Dough?

No, bread dough and pizza dough are not identical. However, with a few adjustments in the recipes, they can be used interchangeably to achieve similar results.

Both bread dough and pizza dough have the potential to yield comparable outcomes with some experimentation.

The primary difference between bread dough and pizza dough lies in their handling methods. Additionally, they have distinct formulations, with variations in the quantities of salt, water, and oil used.

Both types of dough commonly include whole wheat flour, white flour, and some may even incorporate sourdough starter. However, the specific ratios of ingredients required can vary from one recipe to another.

When it comes to pizza, there is a wide range of varieties, ranging from authentic Neapolitan pizzas to delectable focaccia bread. While they all fall under the category of bread, you will undoubtedly notice differences in their flavors.

The good news is that pizza dough can indeed be used as bread dough, and vice versa. With a bit of experimentation and adaptation, you can successfully utilize pizza dough in place of bread dough, and vice versa.

What Is The Difference Between Bread Dough & Pizza Dough?

Let’s delve deeper into the distinctions between bread dough and pizza dough.

Cooking Method

The cooking techniques for bread dough and pizza dough can vary significantly, depending on the specific type of pizza or bread you intend to make.

In most cases, pizza is typically cooked at high temperatures using a pizza stone, and it doesn’t necessarily need a pan or tin, although you can use one if desired.

On the other hand, bread is typically baked at lower temperatures in a loaf tin or a cast iron pot such as a Dutch Oven.

However, when it comes to sourdough and artisan breads, baking them on a hot stone is also an option, depending on the desired crust type.

To achieve the best crust, bread often benefits from the introduction of steam or humidity during the baking process.

In contrast, pizza doesn’t require this as it is baked directly on a stone at high heat. The elevated temperature needed to attain a crispy pizza base eliminates the need for steam.

Fermentation

Both bread dough and pizza dough necessitate a period of rising or fermentation at room temperature to allow the dough to expand.

The terminology used to describe this stage of dough development may vary depending on whether you are utilizing commercial yeast or sourdough yeast.

If you are utilizing a sourdough starter, the rising time is typically referred to as fermentation.

The distinction between the two types of dough lies in the duration of the rise or fermentation period.

Pizza dough generally requires a shorter rise compared to bread dough, unless, of course, you are following a sourdough pizza recipe, which would then necessitate a lengthier fermentation period to allow the natural yeast to leaven the dough.

Kneading Process

The kneading technique used for bread can exhibit significant variations. In both bread and pizza, kneading is performed to activate the dough and develop a robust gluten structure.

While both bread and pizza necessitate a sturdy gluten network, pizza dough is often characterized by having a higher gluten content compared to bread.

This is primarily attributed to the more vigorous kneading process involved and the requirement for enhanced extensibility.

When aiming for exceptional pizza, achieving a chewier crust is typically preferred, in contrast to a softer texture found in sandwich-style bread.

On the other hand, bread varieties like sourdough or artisan bread tend to benefit from a chewier crust, which is considered more desirable.

Gluten

One of the primary distinctions between pizza dough and bread dough lies in the required levels of gluten. Pizza dough necessitates a higher gluten content to achieve a highly extensible and stretchy texture.

In contrast, while bread dough requires well-developed gluten, it does not require the same level of stretchiness or extensibility due to its distinct purpose. The key disparity is that pizza dough is typically crafted using flour with a higher protein content, such as bread flour.

While bread dough can also be made with bread flour, certain types of bread dough benefit from the use of a flour with lower protein content, like all-purpose flour. For instance, soft dinner rolls can be prepared using some flour with less protein than traditional pizza dough.

Moisture Content

Bread dough typically exhibits a higher moisture content than pizza dough, primarily due to the water-to-flour ratio used.

The calculation of hydration in bread dough includes a larger amount of water compared to pizza dough, with the oil in pizza dough being excluded from the hydration calculation.

While the hydration level of pizza dough usually ranges between 50% and 70%, it is not uncommon for bread doughs to have a hydration level of approximately 90%.

Consequently, in general, pizza dough recipes tend to incorporate less water compared to bread dough recipes.

For instance, let’s consider a sourdough pizza crust recipe with a hydration level of 63%, in contrast to a sourdough bread recipe with a hydration level of 71%.

Despite the usage of similar ingredients, these recipes yield notably different outcomes.

Additionally, if you prefer a non-sourdough option, you can compare a regular pizza crust recipe with a hydration level of 65% to a basic white bread recipe with a hydration level of 75%.

Ingredients

Both bread dough and pizza dough can utilize the exact same ingredients. In fact, it is possible to create pizza crusts using just bread flour, water, salt, oil, and leavening agents like commercial yeast or a sourdough starter.

These same ingredients can also be used to make bread. However, it is worth noting that bread dough often incorporates a wider range of ingredients compared to pizza dough.

Bread recipes may include additional components such as eggs, butter, cream, milk, a hint of sugar, or various other ingredients to enhance flavor and texture.

In the case of pizza, the focus is on the toppings rather than incorporating them directly into the dough itself. Consequently, pizza dough typically contains a lower fat content.

It’s important to consider that the fat content of the overall pizza is influenced by the toppings added to it, which may contribute to a higher fat content beyond the dough itself.

Is It Possible To Swap Pizza Dough and Bread Dough?

Yes and no! The answer to this question largely depends on the specific ingredients in the dough.

While some doughs can be interchanged, others are not suitable for such swaps. For instance, it would be challenging to create a pizza using brioche dough, just as it would be impossible to make brioche bread using pizza dough.

A lean bread dough, which lacks fat and dairy ingredients, is generally the most suitable for substituting pizza dough.

Conversely, a pizza dough that incorporates olive oil as its only additional ingredient could potentially be transformed into a loaf of bread.

The outcome will also be influenced by the desired type of pizza crust. Thin crust pizzas differ from those with thicker crusts, often requiring the use of different types of flour to achieve the desired results.

While bread dough may work well for a deep pan pizza, it may not be the best choice for a thin, New York-style pizza.

Can You Use Bread Dough To Make Pizza?

Yes, it is possible to use bread dough to make pizza. However, there are a few considerations and adjustments that need to be made when using bread dough for this purpose.

Firstly, it’s important to ensure that your bread dough is suitable for making pizza. Some types of bread dough may not be ideal for pizza preparation.

Avoid using bread dough that contains added sugars, eggs, butter, vanilla, or any other ingredients that can lead to excessive browning or interfere with the pizza’s flavor profile.

If your bread dough is already flavored or contains ingredients that are not suitable for pizza, it’s best to refrain from using it. Using pre-flavored bread dough for pizza may result in deflation and overly browned crusts.

To create a versatile dough that can be used for both pizza and bread, it’s advisable to keep the bread dough as simple as possible.

Limit the addition of sugar to a small pinch in your pizza dough. Excessive sugar can lead to excessive browning and a sweet crust that may not complement the pizza toppings.

A helpful tip is to repurpose bread dough that has risen more than desired and use it for pizza.

The extended fermentation time can contribute to a poofed-up crust similar to that of a pizza baked in the oven. Just remember to add a tiny pinch of sugar before placing it in the oven for optimal results.

Can You Use Pizza Dough To Make Bread?

Using pizza dough to create bread is a simple and convenient option since they share many similarities.

Whether you opt to purchase dough from a nearby store or utilize leftovers from a previous batch, both can be effectively utilized for crafting a fresh batch of bread.

Pizza dough primarily serves as the foundation for various pizza styles, such as Neapolitan Pizza, Chicago Pizza, New York-Style Pizza, Sicilian Pizza, Greek Pizza, California Pizza, Detroit Pizza, St. Louis Pizza, and more.

These pizzas are carefully crafted by kneading and stretching a small portion of dough into a 12-inch circular flatbread.

The texture of the crusts can vary across different pizza styles, with some featuring thin crusts like the Brooklyn pizza, while others, like deep-dish pizza, boast a thicker crust.

On the other hand, there are numerous types of bread available, including banana bread, baguette, breadstick, brioche, challah, ciabatta, cornbread, focaccia, and many others.

You have the flexibility to mix and match dough types to create both pizza and bread. Furthermore, the two types of dough can be utilized to make other foods such as burgers, pretzels, and more.

If you frequently bake and enjoy fresh pizzas and bread, it can be beneficial to prepare a shared batch of dough.

This approach saves time and resources. As you become more comfortable with interchangeability, you can also add your own personal tweaks to the dough.

Final Words

I hope you found the exploration of the distinctions and resemblances between bread dough and pizza dough intriguing.

Despite sharing similar ingredients and serving specific purposes, they can often be substituted for one another.

At their core, both regular bread dough and most pizza recipes are essentially basic dough recipes with only minor divergences.

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