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Gran Mugnaio Flour

Pizza in the oven. (Photo: Cheryl Bulpitt)

I can’t remember the last time I made a pizza with a pre-baked shell (because they taste like pizza delivery boxes) and I’m starting to make my own dough instead of buying it these days. But it does two frustrating things that keep me from making it more often. It is either not strong enough and tears; or is too strong and resists stretching by springing back partway to its original size. I have a solution but I’m afraid its from the “but a specialised product” category and not the “all you need is duct tape, a few bits of string, and some elbow grease” category.

Rob from Bigabaldi’s sent me to the Faema dealership at Christie and Dupont when I mentioned that I was looking for a particular style of pizza peel (more about this in another post) and the helpful salesperson at Faema was kind enough to give me a bag of Gran Mugnaio pizza flour to try out. In true food-from-an-Axis country style the front of the bag features a wacky character–some sort of pizza bandit chef–and the back has poorly-translated recipe directions in six different languages.

The recipe calls for 1000 g flour, 2 g yeast, 450 to 550 water, 40 g olive oil, 20 g salt. My first impressions are that that is a properly small amount of yeast (to taste the wheat rather than yeast burps) and a fairly large amount of olive oil and salt. That makes though since we’re making pizza in the Neopolitan tradition where the flavour of the crust matters as much (or more than) as the flavour of the toppings.

To fully test the recipe I made half a batch that was kneaded and left to rise for about six hours and a second half-batch with Lahey’s no-knead recipe that ferments and rises in the fridge overnight. Clearly with references to “dough-mixing machines” this recipe was designed for professional kitchens. I kneaded the dough by hand for ten or eleven minutes. A large plastic bowl, turned upside-down stood in for the professional rising boxes.

The no-knead bread is fantastic. Maybe it’s that I’m doing something wrongly or maybe it’s just that pizza requires much more handling than bread but this no-knead recipe just hasn’t worked for me. The dough stretches, tears, and sticks while being handled and is much more likely to suffer a catastrophic failure on its way off the peel. This applied in this case and has with other brands of flour.

Pizza Margherita, on two-foot oak rounds, how's that for rustic serving? (Photo: Cheryl Bulpitt)

Pizza Margherita, on two-foot oak rounds, how's that for rustic serving? (Photo: Cheryl Bulpitt)

In total opposition the dough made by (roughly) following the bag’s recipe was among the best I’ve used. It stretches gradually but easily, doesn’t tear and holds the stretch without bouncing back. It’s even better than the recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice on which I based my Pizza Dough With Legs adaptation. I don’t have a standing mixer at the cottage but will have to test whether using a food processor–easier and quicker than hand kneading–produces results as good as these.

The two other premium, Italian flours that I am familiar with are Caputo and Divella. Divella is somewhat widely available (I’ve found it at both Highland Farms and Pusateri’s) but the red bags, while easy to spot, only come in 1 kg sizes that I’ve seen. Caputo has a loyal cult following with home pizza makers but has very limited availability in Canada and as far as I can tell is only available by home delivery for a staggering forty-two per bucks for a 25kg bag.

The full Gran Mugnaio line of pizza flour–I’m practicing my Italian and have determined that “uso professionale” means “hardcore”–from Molino Spadoni comes in four varieties. They are all tipo 00  but vary by W number from W170 to W325. It’s going to take some more investigation on my part before I report back on what the W number means. The flour I was using is the PZ2 (per pizza soffice) and Faema also carries the PZ3 (per pizza classica).

If you have experience with the Gran Mugnaio flour, the product from Caputo, or can offer any insight on how their flavour differs please feel free to comment below.

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