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Bread Dough vs Pizza Dough: Are They Interchangeable?

Bread Dough vs Pizza Dough:  Are They Interchangeable?

Bread and pizza are completely different foods, but they both start with the main ingredients of flour, water, salt, and yeast. The way the dough is handled is what determines whether it becomes pizza or bread.

On the surface, bread dough and pizza dough can appear very similar, and that’s because there isn’t much of a difference between them in terms of their components.

Is bread dough the same as pizza dough?

Bread dough and pizza dough can be identical in terms of ingredients, but different in their formulas. They often contain different percentages of salt, water, and oil. Either way, they can be used interchangeably to make most variations of pizza or bread.

There are all sorts of different kinds of pizza and bread styles out there that all require dough with different ratios of ingredients.

Pizza goes from something as simple and thin as the Neapolitan pizza to something as thick and fluffy as the Detroit pizza. Bread can be anything from a classic white loaf to a beautifully oily focaccia and beyond.

The great thing is that these two types of dough can be swapped and you’d still get great results.

Differences Between Bread Dough and Pizza Dough

Although these two doughs are very similar, there are some key differences to look out for. Making pizza with the wrong kind of dough could end in disaster.

The main difference between bread dough and pizza dough is simply the ratios of the ingredients. Many pizza makers also refrigerate their dough for 24 hours or more to improve the flavor and help to strengthen the gluten so it’s more extensibility.

With that said, there are plenty of different types of bread and pizza, so it’s important to acknowledge what kind of differences there are between the different types.

Formulation Of Ingredients

Changes in the ratio of ingredients used for a dough can change the style of the dough completely.

More water will lead to a dough that is stickier and looser whilst less water will give you a firmer dough that’s much easier to handle.

Both bread and pizza can have varying hydration levels depending on what style you’re making, so make sure you’re using a dough that’s appropriate for its specific purpose. For example, you might want to use focaccia dough for a Detroit-style pizza.

Pizza dough also often has a higher percentage of salt in it (2.0-3.0%) than bread dough (1.5-2.5%). This, however, won’t have a significant effect on the finished product.

Ingredients Used

The types of ingredients used in certain recipes will vary too. Some bread dough might contain eggs, butter, milk, or a high ratio of sugar. Bread dough containing these ingredients (enriched dough) shouldn’t be made into pizza as it’s not appropriate for the purpose and is more likely to burn.

Make sure that you think carefully about what dough you’re using for a specific purpose and think about whether it’s really appropriate for it.

Extensibility

Pizza needs to have a good amount of stretch to it, so it’s important that it has a lot of gluten development.

Whilst you can get away with making some bread using all-purpose flour, pizza dough should ideally be made with something that can create more gluten.

Either bread flour or type 00 flour has a good protein content (more protein equals more gluten development) to it, which will ensure that you get a comfortable amount of extensibility of the dough,

Pizza can be made with all-purpose flour, but you’re more likely to run into issues like tearing and tight dough.

Fermentation Time

Both bread and pizza can be allowed a very long cold fermentation (rise) time in the fridge, but it’s more common for pizza dough to have a cold fermentation. Bread dough is often baked on the day it’s started.

Dough with a longer rise develops more flavor and the gluten strengthens, which is ideal for pizza dough so it can taste better and stretch even more without tearing.

Pizza dough can be left in the fridge for multiple days and still come out to make great pizza by the end of it.

Can You Use Pizza Dough To Make Bread?

Since pizza dough is technically the same thing as bread dough, it can be used to serve the same purpose.

Pizza dough can be used to make bread whether it’s homemade or shop-bought. It can be shaped and baked in the same way as regular bread. Most people won’t notice the difference in the bread since pizza dough is so similar to bread dough.

Although pizza dough has an obvious primary purpose, it can also be used to make plenty of different kinds of bread like burgers buns, loaves, pretzels, etc.

Using pizza dough to make bread is an easy way to expand your bread-making skills with minimal effort. You can use the same dough as what you’d normally use to make different styles of bread. From there, you can vary the dough recipe and try new things.

Can You Use Bread Dough To Make Pizza?

A lot of bread dough is similar to pizza dough and can be made in the same way, but there are some exceptions where you definitely won’t want to use them for a pizza.

Bread dough can be used to make pizza provided that it’s not an enriched dough. This means that it shouldn’t include anything like milk, eggs, butter, or more than a pinch of sugar. These ingredients soften the bread and promote browning, which can cause the pizza to burn before it’s done cooking.

Since pizza is cooked using very high heat, it would be a terrible idea to try it with an enriched dough. Not only would enriched dough have a texture that’s too soft and floppy for pizza, but it’d also overbrown or burn very quickly.

When it comes to making pizza with bread, only do it if it’s a basic dough that contains flour, water, salt, and yeast (oil and a small pinch of sugar is okay too). Any extra ingredients and it’s hard to consider it real pizza.

Turn Your Overproofed Dough Into A Pizza

Here’s a little tip for if you are to ever overproof your dough. Instead of throwing the dough away, you should roll it out flat and bake it like a pizza.

By doing this, you’re preventing waste and you’re getting a somewhat decent pizza. You should get a good amount of flavor since the dough will have fermented for plenty of time, but the crust won’t rise at all and it can become tough if you overbake it.

Keep in mind that since it’s overproofed it may not brown very well (since there is no more sugar to caramelize in the dough) and the texture will be different, but it’s still a good use of dough if you’re ever looking for an easy meal.

In Summary

So, even though pizza dough and bread dough are used to make completely different types of food, they’re really just the same thing with different names in most cases.

Some flour, water, salt, and yeast and you’ve got yourself something that can make pretzels, sandwich bread, burger buns, pizza, and the list goes on!

The amount of bread and pizza you can make with this simple combination is virtually endless. Of course, you’ll need to add other ingredients for different types of bread, but that’s all part of the learning process.

Play around with the dough formulas and different kind of bread/pizzas to see which suits you the most. You might be surprised at how easy it can be to make bread and pizza once you learn one basic dough formula.