Ever wonder what the actual difference between pizza dough and regular bread dough is? Are they even different? Let’s sort that out now.
There’s something of a misconception in the homemade pizza community that if you can make dough of any kind, then you can make delicious pizza dough.
And whilst yes, some of the skills are transferable and are something you will need for any type of dough, the ingredients, and the techniques will differ slightly for every type of dough.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t specify things like pizza dough and bread dough, because it would simply be called dough.
So, in this post, I’ll take you through some of the major differences, and explain why you should never use bread dough as your pizza base, or pizza dough in your next loaf.
So, without further ado, let’s get into pizza dough vs bread dough, and all the subtle differences between them.
Setting Up Some Ground Rules
First off, I need to make it clear what we’re talking about here because there are so many types of dough for bread, and different dough for pizza too.
There are loaves of bread and flatbreads and everything in between. Just like there are thin and crispy pizza bases and deep pan, and it all comes down to what you prefer.
Getting these different results will require slight tweaks to your dough recipes, so in the interest of fairness, I’m just going to be talking about a basic pizza dough recipe, and a basic bread dough recipe – both of which are white.
If you want something slightly different, then go ahead and search online for different recipes, but in the interest of this article, I’ll just be comparing these two doughs to show the main differences so you can understand a little better why they aren’t interchangeable.
Pizza Dough And Bread Dough: What Are The Differences?
If you look at the ingredient list for basic pizza dough and basic white bread dough, you’ll see the same ingredients – yeast, water, flour, salt – but you will use different quantities for both, and that’s where the first real difference lies.
They might look the same on paper, but baking is more of a science than an art, and it’s one of the most complex forms of cooking there is. Baking requires processes and exact measurements because even a slight tweak can create something else entirely.
So one of the reasons why pizza dough and bread dough are not interchangeable is because somebody has worked out the perfect balance of ingredients for both types of dough, so why would you use the other one in its place?
Another key difference is in the proofing of the dough itself. Bread dough has more yeast in it, because you typically want your bread to rise more for a thicker loaf as opposed to a thin crust like you do with pizza.
Bread dough will therefore need to be left to prove for longer, and will need an additional rise after kneading the dough too. This helps the yeast work better, creating a thicker, fluffier texture at the end.
Pizza dough needs to be thinner, so a long proofing isn’t necessary, and it certainly won’t need additional time to help it rise, because you’ll likely be stretching it thin anyway.
Another key difference is in how you handle the dough. With bread you need to be quite careful, because you don’t want to knock it around too much and knock all the air and rise out of it, or else all the proofing will have been for nothing.
Pizza dough will need to be knocked around a fair bit to get the thin base you’re looking for. If you’ve ever seen a pizza being made by a professional, then you know what I mean.
The way they throw the pizza around in the air with both hands and spin it to stretch it out is anything but delicate, and that’s because a pizza dough can handle it, but a bread dough can’t.
Pizza Dough VS Bread Dough: Cooking
You’ll notice the biggest difference in the two different doughs when you actually cook them. Bread dough has been designed to be cooked at lower temperatures for a longer period of time.
This is because bread dough typically has a lot more water than pizza dough.
This makes the dough more flexible, but also allows it to steam whilst cooking, keeping that airy, thick texture that you look for from a delicious loaf of bread.
Pizza dough, however, is designed to be cooked for a shorter period of time at a high heat, so doesn’t require as much water.
In fact, too much water in your pizza dough can make it difficult to shape your pizza to start with, and it certainly won’t help when you’re trying to cook it at high heat in your pizza oven.
Bread is also usually cooked for longer because it is so much thicker than pizza bases, so a lower heat allows for the middle of the loaf to cook, without burning the outer crust.
You’re looking for a similar effect with pizza, but in a much quicker way, because of how thin the base needs to be.
Cooking it at a higher heat for a shorter time allows the outside to form a crispy crust, whilst cooking the inside without drying it out.
So whichever way you look at it, pizza dough and bread dough have quite a few differences that make them distinct recipes in their own right, no matter how similar they may look at first glance.
Are They Interchangeable?
I’ve said all the way through this article that they aren’t, but in a pinch, they certainly can be. Will you get the same result? No. But it will still be edible.
If you have a bread dough ready to go but want to make pizza instead, then stretching it out to form a pizza base will certainly create a satisfactory result, but don’t expect it to be as good as usual.
So whilst no, they aren’t interchangeable if you’re looking for a specific result, you can use one in place of the other if you absolutely have to – but just remember the differences I’ve highlighted in this post so you aren’t disappointed or surprised by the results.