Pizza is a wonderful thing and brings happiness to almost everyone it comes into contact with, so who wouldn’t want to make it? If you’re stuck for the right flour and only have enough cake flour, hope is not lost, you may still be able to get somewhere with it.
Cake flour can be used to make pizza, but it doesn’t give you a chewy crust due to its low protein content. You will get better results by combining both bread flour (or all-purpose) and cake flour. This leaves you with slightly higher protein content whilst getting the benefits from the cake flour.
As you can guess, cake flour is most effective when used for cakes. This is because it gives a light and soft texture rather than a chewy one. Although this can absolutely be used to make tasty pizza, it most likely won’t be the same as what you’d expect from different flour.
If you’re ever in a pinch and only have cake flour, you’ll be just fine using it in place of normal pizza flour, but you shouldn’t expect great quality results with it.
With that said, let’s go through the science behind cake flour and pizza.
How Does Cake Flour Compare To Pizza Flour?
There are different kinds of flours that can be used to make pizza. Traditional Neapolitan pizza will be made using type 00 flour whilst home bakers and a lot of pizza shops will use either bread flour or all-purpose flour for their dough.
All these flours are different, so let’s take a look at how they compare individually:
Cake Flour vs Type 00
Type 00 flour is traditional Italian flour that’s used to make excellent pizza and pasta. The ’00’ in the name of the flour refers to the grade at which it’s milled. Double zero is the finest mill you can get. This is the gold standard flour for real Italian pizza.
Although cake flour and type 00 flour have very different purposes, they do have one big similarity: Both these flours are milled very finely.
Yes, this does make cake flour seem like a good substitute for type 00 flour, but it’s most likely a sin to compare the two in Italy.
Whilst this fine mill makes them slightly similar, the lack of gluten in cake flour means that it won’t form as much gluten and you won’t get the same chewy texture.
Cake Flour vs Bread and All-Purpose Flour
For the sake of ease, I’m going to put bread flour and all-purpose flour into the same category.
The main difference between bread and all-purpose flour is their protein content, but it’s only small. Both flours can make good pizza when used correctly.
When comparing cake flour against bread flour, the only similarity is that they’re both flour. There are really only differences between these two.
First of all, the mill grades of the two flours are completely different. With bread flour, you get a pretty standard grade that’s not too large or fine. With cake flour, you get a fine mill that makes more sense for cakes.
The difference in the coarseness of these flours means that they both need different amounts of water to make a workable dough.
The finer mill of the cake flour means that it’ll absorb water very easily and therefore need less of it. This means that you’re more likely to add too much water and need more flour.
With bread flour (or all-purpose), you can follow most recipes closely and get a workable dough.
This means that you might struggle with cake flour and have to play around with it until you get a good dough texture.
The second big difference is the fact that bread flour has a high protein content whilst cake flour does not. A high protein content correlates to good gluten development, which means that the pizza will have a chewy structure.
Without enough gluten, it just won’t be the same.
The Problem With Cake Flour
Cake flour can make pizza, but it is hugely let down by its inability to create enough gluten in the dough.
I’ve already mentioned this briefly previously in the article, but I want to go more into depth about how important the protein content of a flour is.
To put it simply, the protein content of a flour translates to how much gluten can be developed in the dough. The protein content of a normal bread flour lies in the range of 11-15% protein per 100g of flour whilst cake flour lies at about 9%.
On paper, this might not sound like a huge difference, but when put into practice, you’ll notice a significant difference both before and after it’s pizza.
During kneading and shaping, the dough won’t be as elastic and may even be more difficult to knead due to it being more sticky. Once it’s baked, the texture of the pizza crust is very different too.
If you can somehow find a cake flour that’s able to create a good amount of gluten, you might be able to make some tasty pizza after all.
Is Pizza With Cake Flour Worth The Effort?
When you know how to make pizza, it’s not particularly difficult or time-consuming to make dough ready for baking. It can take as little as 15 minutes to make the dough if you know what you’re doing.
Some may argue that because cake flour isn’t going to give great results, it’s not worth the effort of making pizza with it.
I can see this debate from both angles.
To the experienced pizza maker or someone that always wants top-notch pizza, it will most likely be a waste of their time to make pizza with cake flour. However, to the average person who just wants decent pizza and enjoys the process of making it, they will most likely find that it’s worth their time.
If you have a lower pizza standard than the professionals and regularly eat frozen or takeout pizza, you could try making some pizza with cake flour and see how it goes.
If you’re really desperate to make pizza, you can absolutely do so by using cake flour alone. Just don’t expect excellent pizza because that’s not what you’ll get.
It may look and smell good, but the texture won’t be the same as your normal pizza.
Instead of a chewy crust, you’ll find a tender and soft crust that easily breaks down in your mouth. It might sound good but it’s not the same.
With that said, it’s still technically pizza even if it’s made with cake flour, so go ahead and try it out. What’s the worst that can happen? You might even prefer the cake flour crust.
Make sure to always stock bread flour in your cupboard so you can make great pizza whenever you want it.
Feel free to experiment with combining different types of flour too. By using both cake flour and bread flour, you’re able to increase the protein content of the dough and therefore produce more gluten. By doing this, you can have the benefits of the finely milled cake flour and a glutenous structure.