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Pizza Dough Vs Bread Dough: Can They Be Swapped?

Whether you work in a professional pizzeria or just love the taste of the gorgeous Italian delicacy, making pizza at home is one of the most rewarding (and most delicious) things you can do in your spare time.

It can be so tempting to reach for your phone and pay extra money to have someone else make and deliver to your home.

But nothing compares to the feeling of tucking into a hearty, cheesy pizza with a warm, crispy crust.

However, not everyone has their kitchen kitted out and equipped to make perfect, traditional pizza dough.

For many people, it takes some experimenting with different recipes and ingredients to get their homemade pizza tasting just the way they want it.

In this article, we’re looking at how pizza dough and bread dough can both be used for similar purposes.

Maybe you want to use a bread dough recipe to make pizza… We’ve got you covered.

Maybe you want to use a pizza dough recipe to make bread… No problem!

This is the definitive guide to making pizza and bread doughs for all purposes and every occasion.

What Is Bread Dough?

In order to make versatile bread dough, first, you’ll need to understand exactly what bread dough is.

The only two ingredients you need to make a bread dough are flour and water, everything else is technically optional.

As you may have guessed, bread is a very old food, with signs of it being made going back over 9000 years!

Thankfully, the recipe has changed a bit since then. Bread recipes have been adapted for different climates, technologies, and tastes as the centuries have gone by.

To make bread dough rise, you need to add yeast. To make it taste nicer, you can add salt or sugar.

If you want to add some versatility in texture and flavor, you can even add seeds and nuts to most bread doughs.

However, for our purposes, we’ll look at a very basic bread recipe. All you’ll need to make a simple, yet tasty bread is flour, water, salt, yeast, and olive oil.

Again, there are many different recipes out there that will call for more or fewer ingredients than this but the universal agreement is that these are the things you need for a decent bread.

How Is Bread Made?

What Is Bread Dough

Whatever quantities your recipe calls for, and however it suggests you combine the ingredients, once you have a dough together, the key part of the process is the kneading.

Kneading is the bane of any amateur baker’s life. Machines do exist now that can knead bread dough for you, but these are expensive and won’t be found in everyone’s kitchen. The only alternative is to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

A good tip is to set a timer on your phone or any other timekeeping device for 10 minutes. It will feel like forever but it’s an absolutely crucial step in the process.

We knead the dough to develop and stretch its gluten strands, which helps the bread to rise evenly when baking and gives it a lovely texture.

The next step after kneading is to prove the dough. You’ll be pleased to hear that this step is a lot less strenuous than kneading, as it simply requires you to leave the dough in a bowl or tray, cover it, and leave it for at least 45 minutes (but the longer, the better).

Proving is important for making a good bread dough because it allows the yeast to work its scientific magic and produce carbon dioxide, which creates small pockets of air in the dough to give the bread a great texture.

Once you’ve done this, you can shape the dough however you like it and set it into the oven to bake.

Of course, different recipes will call for different shapes, temperatures, and cooking times, so make sure you follow your recipe carefully, as you won’t want to undo all your hard work by burning it.

Some of the most popular types of bread dough from around the world include:

  • White bread
  • Baguette
  • Rye
  • Whole Wheat
  • English Muffin
  • Ciabatte
  • Brioche
  • Sourdough

…And so many more!

How Is Pizza Dough Made?

How Is Pizza Dough Made

So we’ve established that bread dough can be versatile and include thousands of different combinations of ingredients and quantities. But what is it about a pizza dough that makes it a pizza dough?

As you may have already guessed, pizza dough is a type of bread dough, in the same way as a baguette or a ciabatta.

The main ingredients won’t change much from the basic bread ingredients we talked about earlier.

However, some pizza dough recipes will tell you to add sugar or to use a special type of flour (typically ‘00’). Again, whatever your recipe calls for, you should follow it.

Interestingly, pizza dough also requires yeast to make the bread rise as it cooks. Obviously, the end result will still be fairly flat, but this is how you get those lovely little bubbles in the base of your pizza.

The main differences between pizza dough and standard bread dough are in the process of making it and the number of ingredients.

Pizza dough will typically have less water and more fat (e.g. olive oil), to give it a generally lower moisture level.

Also, to make good pizza dough, you’ll probably have to knead it for longer. A well-worked gluten structure is essential for making a dough that can withstand the weight of all the toppings you want to add to it.

When you cook a pizza, you’ll also need a much hotter oven than if you’re making a loaf of bread, as you will have stretched the dough much thinner and you’ll need to properly cook all your toppings too.

In all good pizza restaurants, there will be some kind of wood-fired pizza oven, designed specifically for this purpose.

Whilst it’s difficult to recreate this effect at home, you can purchase pizza stones that sit in the oven and provide heat from below the pizza, as well as above it.

Whilst there isn’t much of a difference between the recipes and methods for making different pizza doughs, there are a few different ways to shape and cook it.

For example, a New York-style pizza will be very large and have a thicker crust than average. Whereas, a more authentic Italian pizza is more likely to have a thin crust.

Again, you should always read your recipe carefully to know how you should shape the dough.

Store Bought vs Homemade

For a lot of us, it’s very tempting to head to the grocery store and pick up some premade dough for our pizza or bread.

There’s nothing wrong with doing that, and you’ll still be able to have loads of fun making and eating it. However, there are a few differences you might find between the two products.

You may not have known this, but in most grocery stores you can now buy ready-to-bake pizza dough in a bag, in a can, and even frozen!

The main purposes of selling dough like this are so that it’s readily available to anyone who wants to buy it, can be taken out of the packaging and used right away, and to make the dough keep for longer.

You definitely can’t beat the convenience of store-bought pizza dough.

Instead of spending over an hour preparing your dough to make it just right, food companies have made it easier than ever to get your pizzas in the oven as quickly as possible.

Of course, to preserve the dough and allow it to keep in your fridge or kitchen cupboards for longer, most of the premade doughs you can buy at the grocery store will have some kind of preservatives added to them.

Whilst there’s very little chance any modern preservatives could be dangerous to eat, some of them can make the dough less healthy.

It’s worth checking the ingredients and doing some research about any preservatives that are used if this is a concern for you.

You know, you don’t just need to buy your premade dough from a grocery store. Many small pizzerias will happily sell some of the dough they make themselves.

This is a great way to ensure your dough is authentic and made with natural ingredients. If you can’t trust a professional pizzeria to make a good dough, you can’t trust anyone!

Naturally, some people will enjoy the process of making the dough from scratch.

It can be a super fun activity for a group of friends or family to do together and bond over enjoying a meal that was prepared as a team.

If this is what you’re going for, making your dough from scratch is a great way to go.

If you don’t have that much time or can’t find all the ingredients you’d need, there’s nothing wrong with buying your dough from the store.

Can I Use Store Bought Bread Dough To Make Pizza?

There’s nothing wrong with using store-bought pizza dough to make a pizza with, the clue’s in the name! And whilst you can use a generic premade bread dough for your pizza, we wouldn’t recommend it.

The main problem is the structure of bread dough not being as sturdy as pizza dough.

You might find that using store-bought bread dough for pizza leaves it falling apart in your hands, with your toppings sliding all over the place.

How To Shape Dough To Make Pizza

Whether you’re using pizza dough or bread dough and whether you’ve made it from scratch or bought it from the store, the process of shaping the dough to make a pizza is pretty much the same.

You should start off with your dough in a ball shape. Most store-bought dough will come like this in the packaging.

If you’ve made your own, a good tip is to cup both hands around the dough and bring them together underneath it. Do this a few times, and eventually, your dough will form a ball.

Next, you’ll want to stretch out your dough into that famous circular pizza shape.

You have to be careful during this step because the last thing you want to do is tear a hole in your dough for your toppings to fall through.

With your fingertips or your knuckles, press down into the middle of the dough and stretch it out in all directions.

You want to make sure you leave a slightly thicker part of dough around the edge of your circle, this is how the iconic pizza crust is formed.

Pretty soon, you’ll be left with an evenly thin circle of dough that has a plump little crust around the edge.

Finally, it’s best to move your shaped dough onto a floured tray, pizza peel, or pizza stone- whatever you have available.

If you try to assemble your toppings onto the dough and then move it over to the next piece of equipment, you’re way more likely to tear the dough or lose your toppings all over your kitchen counter.

At that point, it’s simply a matter of sticking it in a scorching hot oven and waiting patiently for it to be ready.

Can I Use A Bread Dough Recipe To Make Pizza?

The simple answer to this question is: yes, you can. However, your pizza won’t be quite as good.

Most pizza dough recipes include a lower level of moisture and a higher gluten complexity to create a stronger base for the pizza.

Therefore, if you just use a standard bread dough to make pizza, without adapting it, your pizza won’t have the same structural integrity and you could end up eating a very messy meal!

Can I Use A Pizza Dough Recipe To Make Bread?

Swapping the two doughs this way around makes a lot more sense. Most pizza dough recipes will make a tasty enough bread on it’s own and you won’t have any structural issues.

However, pizza dough recipes are written with additional toppings in mind. Therefore, if you did want to cook and eat some pizza dough on it’s own, it might taste a little bland.

You’re probably better off using a dedicated bread recipe or, at the very least, finding some sauces, condiments or other accompaniments to go with your pizza bread.

Can I Use Pizza Dough To Make Other Things?

Absolutely, you can! There are plenty of other fun recipes you can use pizza dough for. They’re great for using up some scraps of leftover dough that you don’t want to throw out.

Here are some of our favorite suggestions for other things you can make with pizza dough:

  • Calzones – Very similar to a regular pizza, just folded over. You can even make miniature ones if you don’t have much dough to work with.
  • Zeppoles – These are basically Italian donuts, without the hole. Shape your leftover dough into little balls, fry them in oil and cover them with sugar or any other delicious toppings.
  • Breadsticks – You can get really creative with this one. Cut your dough into strips and brush them with butter or oil. Cover them with cheese, garlic, herbs, spices or anything you think would taste good! Then just bake them until golden brown and slightly hard on the outside.

Final Thoughts

What we’ve learned here is that bread dough and pizza dough are pretty much the same food, just with slightly different recipes.

This makes it nice and easy to swap the two for different purposes, depending on what you have in the kitchen already.

You should always make sure you read your recipe carefully as each one will have the measurements perfectly worked out to make the perfect product.

However, you don’t need to worry too much about what type of dough you use for what purpose.

Just have fun cooking!