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james 05-18-2006 10:17 PM

Is pizza good for you?
We've been talking about whether good pizza is good for you, because you make it with white flour. The issue is fair enough. Still, good pizza dough is flour, water, salt and yeast. That's it.

Here is the ingredients list for bad bread. This is going to take a minute, and comes right off the label of bad store bread.

Enriched wheat flour [wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, skim milk, high fructose corn syrup (that's right, sugar), yeast, soybean and cottonseed oil (hummm), salt, wheat gluten, sodium stearoyl lactylate, mono- and diglyerides, corn flour, tumeric (image how white it would be without the coloring), mono calcium phosphate, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, soy secithin, cornstart, calcium propinate.

Even the flour is loaded with additives. My King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour ingredients list says "100% hard white winter wheat flour milled from the entire wheat berry." The Caputo is 100% natural as well (though not whole wheat).

It is true that whole wheat flour is better than white flour, and I use it for all of my bread (but not my pizza and focaccia). Still, just thinking about store bread makes me cringe. I would be afraid to see the ingredients list for a chain store pizza. It should carry a warning label -- "eating store bread kills".

So make great pizza, live long and prosper. And if you don't bake all the time, get your bread from a great bakery like Jim's.


CanuckJim 05-19-2006 04:37 AM


I'm right with you. As you might imagine, I go through a lot of flours and have tried many different types, from fancy durham to spelt, for different applications and customers. Right now, I get all my flours from a place called Grain Enterprises, although I'm working on a few things with one of the local big guns, Dover Mills. I've baked with King Arthur flours and like them very much, but, unfortunately, there is no distributor in Canada, and KA told me "we don't export." Might have something to do with tarriffs and NAFTA. I could order from them myself, but the cost would be prohibitive. And, sure, it's occurred to me that a distributorship here would be an opportunity, but I don't think the time is right yet, and I only have two hands and one head; sometimes vice versa.

I never use supermarket flours for a bunch of reasons, but chief among them is freshness. Here, at least, there's no best before date or mill date on the bags, unlike what I get from Grain Enterprises. (Think additives and shelf life.) My rule is that if you can smell anything at all in a bag of flour, except a hint of grain, dump it because it's turning rancid. I sprint away from bleached, enriched flours, or ones with any additives at all. It's less a health issue than a flavour one, and any kind of additives affect rising. The perfectly risen loaf is difficult enough without this stuff, and, personally, I don't want to eat it if I can't pronounce it. Shelf life is shortened with fresh, unbleached flours, sure, but flour is right up there with water when it comes to ingredients' cost. When you think about it, per gram, salt is more expensive.

Having said that, it's important to remember that flours are very frequently blended by the miller to get what he's after. Caputo Tipo 00 is a case in point; ditto KA's Artisan Bread Flour. Sort of like a vintner, I guess.

For "white" flours, I try to stick with the red wheats, soft or hard winter. These have the highest gluten count and rise predictably well. The best of these are grown on the prairies: Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, South Dakota. Good, unbleached hard red winter wheat flour isn't white, more like beige, because only a percentage of the bran has been sifted out. All purpose has its uses, like the Peter Reinhart batard I made yesterday: half AP, half hard white, with a TBS or so of gluten flour added for strength and a pinch of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) for tang. Good crumb and a crunchy crust. For wheat breads, I use the freshest I can get my hands on but find that straight whole wheat does not rise that well without spiking, or a sponge, poolish, biga, what have you. Usually, I find a mix of whole wheat and hard white works best. Or, you can start with a hard white formula and add bran or wheat germ to it (this is where the nutrition resides). The classic French pain au levain formula includes about 10 percent whole wheat and/or rye flour to hard white; then there's meteil rye or seigle rye. Nancy Silverton adds wheat germ to many of her white flour formulas. All are based on differing percentages. The permutations are endless and fascinating.

There are plenty of natural sugars in any good flour; the art is to get them to break out during fermentation, along with enzymes, to get that great taste.

I'll use organic flours, but, for me, the price is very high in a commercial operation. These require the addition of barley malt powder or syrup anyway, and there's a lot of resistance to passing on the cost.

I guess my mantra is freshness equals flavour, additives are anathema. There's nothing at all wrong with white flour, so long as you know what wheats were used and how fresh it is. It's perhaps not as nutritional as wheat flour, but that can be altered at will. Beyond that, I'm still in my infancy regarding which flours where and when and best.


RevJToad 05-19-2006 04:48 PM

Jim, I wish I lived in Prince Albert so I could go hit you up for decent flour. :> How far are you from Winnipeg anyways?

I certainly don't disagree with any of this, but at the same time, I'm a diabetic, so the important things from my perspective are fibre and protein, and generally speaking, white flour has neither, or trace amounts at best. We can debate whether this white flour is better or worse than that one, and that debate definitely has merit, but the bottom line for my nutritional needs is whole grain, whole grain, whole grain.

Fortunately, I've got it well under control, so I can deviate from that basic formula sometimes without putting myself in danger, but as I said, in the long run I'd like to get a recipe down for a decent whole grain pizza crust. It'll never be as good as the "real" crust, but if I can get something decent, I'll be happy.

CanuckJim 05-20-2006 04:46 AM

Fibre & Protein

Don't think there is a debate at all. Whole wheat and whole grain definitely have more fibre and protein than the others, no question there.

For me, it's a matter of effect and taste. I still have much to learn about how to balance ingredients for the taste I want and the effect I'm after; everything from crust texture to the effect different grain combinations have on the palate. Challenging is the best way to put it.

Prince Albert (that sainted Prince of sacred memory to Queen Victoria) is one tiny place to the northeast of Toronto (we have a general store AND a body shop), and it's one heckava long way from Windypeg. Think all the way around the Sioux and down the shore of Georgian Bay past Sudbury. Days, my friend, days.

You live right in the heart of hard wheat country; surprised there's nobody out there offering the kinds of wheat flours and whole grains you want. Health food stores might be first on the list but they are expensive. Shop around on the commercial supplier side and see what you can find. There are more silos next door in Saskatchewan than there are people; not sure about mills. Too, you might want to invest in your own mill to grind your own stuff. I'm definitely headed in that direction down the road. Search grain mills on the web, but be careful, there are only one or two that haven't been savaged by owners, and only one that does not heat the grain during milling.

You might try directly contacting Grain Process Enterprises Ltd., 115 Commander Blvd., Scarborough, ON, M1S 3M7. They're mainly a large scale commercial supplier, but they do sell to the public in small batches, even have a store at their warehouse. Dover Mills is planning to move into the "artisan" flour market shortly. I've been in contact with them and will update you on what I find if you like.

You might try adding a soaker to your recipes. Consult Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice, pps. 53 and 217 to begin, then experiement. I've used very coarsely ground cornmeal as a soaker in whole wheat pan bread to excellent effect. Next I'm going to use McCann's Quick Cook Irish Oatmeal; found a bunch of boxes on sale at a local market. This is definitely not rolled oats, more like the wheat germ of the oat world, granular and full of flavour. I also have the long cook version, but I'm not sure that would work as well, but maybe. Basically, no matter what coarse grain is used, cracked rye for example, it's soaked overnight in water or milk at room temp then added to your recipe. Fibre street, protein city.

Dough is dough is dough, pizza or bread. Change it up, experiment, work with it until you find what you like. Not traditional, perhaps, but THAT is real crust.


james 05-20-2006 09:30 AM

King Arthur White Whole Wheat

Have you tried King Arthur White Whole Wheat. It is 100% whole wheat, but lighter and whiter than regular whole wheat.

RevJToad 05-20-2006 09:43 AM


Originally Posted by james

Have you tried King Arthur White Whole Wheat. It is 100% whole wheat, but lighter and whiter than regular whole wheat.

Actually, I've been meaning to ask about this - my girlfriend found an article in this so-called white whole wheat, but the article said it was not available to the public yet. King Arthur, you say? I'll have to investigate.

RevJToad 05-20-2006 09:47 AM


Originally Posted by CanuckJim
You live right in the heart of hard wheat country; surprised there's nobody out there offering the kinds of wheat flours and whole grains you want.

Well, I haven't done a lot of searching for flours yet - as far as I knew a week ago, there were two kinds, white and whole wheat. I knew in my head that there were all kinds of different strains of wheat and that there must be regional differences, if nothing else, but didn't really see that I had any options at all, except adding gluten to the dough.

I'm gonna start looking into what's available. As I already said, in the long run I'd like to use mostly local ingredients. In the long run I'd like to use mostly local ingredients in everything, not just pizza. :>

james 05-20-2006 10:49 AM

I have a bag sitting on my desk, because I wanted to copy the ingredients list. :)

I think I got it a Trader Joes. Not sure on that one. I've gone through bags of it and highly recommend it. Give it a try. I use it for bread, not pizza, but I'll try that next.

It comes from Norwich, VT.

RevJToad 05-21-2006 01:38 PM

Is Trader Joes a store or a website? I'm ignent, never heard of it. I'll have to take a look next time I drive down to Grand Forks to stock up on Splendafied Pepsi. :>

james 05-21-2006 06:05 PM

Trader Joes is a different kind of supermarket. They only buy special items and always get great quality at a great price. Not for everything, but if they have it, you know it's good. I think they have the highest sales $ per square foot of any retailer.

Check out King Arthur flour online. I know they ship.

I'm making bread with the White Whole Wheat today -- we'll see how it goes.

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