Bread, Pizza & Salt

Pizza is a leavened flatbread, usually leavened with yeast. Like other bread, it is made with salt. A pizza made from scratch at a restaurant or at home can have more salt, processed cheese and processed meats than a person should eat.

Making pizza dough is similiar to making bread. A pizza crust can be made with flour, water, salt and yeast, and a little sugar or olive oil to enrich the dough. The dough will be a dough ball which will ferment (“rise”) and be flattened for baking. A dough ball to make a 10 inch thin crust pizza will be small, and have to be tenacious to stand up to rolling into a thin crust.

A pizza can be baked in a home oven, although no home ovens achieve the temperatures and conditions of the ovens used in restaurants.

Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe involves flour, water, salt, instant yeast and olive oil. His recipe uses 2 tsp. (11.4 grams) of salt, 1 cup of water (237 g.) & 3 cups of flour (408 g.) (B% hydration 58%). This recipe calls for 11.4 grams of salt in 650 g. of wet dough. The calculation of sodium per serving is not straightforward. 11.4 g of salt contains 4.56 g. of sodium (= 4,560 mg.) 650 g. of wet dough makes enough crust for 3 or 4 servings. Each serving would have 1,110 to 1,500 mg. of sodium. The RDA is 2,000 mg.

Mark Bittman recommends mixing and kneading in a food processor, which takes about half a minute, with some extra pulses. In a stand mixer, a yeasted dough can be mixed and kneaded in less than 10 minutes. He recommends letting it rise at room temperature, or more slowly in a refrigerator, before dividing, shaping a dough ball, wrapping and freezing. He suggests using a frozen ball within about a month.

Peter Reinhart has dough recipes in his pizza book, American Pie. His recipes use 1¾ cups of water (415 g.) & 5 cups of flour (680 g.) (B% hydration 61%) His recipes call for stand mixer or hand kneading – not in a food processor. He favours cold fermentation in a refrigerator. He says his doughs can be divided, shaped as dough balls, wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months.

Peter Reinhart, in American Pie, has a recipe to make 4 x 10 inch pre-baked crusts that can be kept frozen for 3 months. These are not thin crust pizzas.

Beth Hensperger has pizza dough recipes in The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook for doughs for 2 x 12 inch thin crust pizzas, or 1 x 14 inch deep dish pizza. A pizza cannot be baked in a bread machine; bread machines mix and knead dough in a Dough program or cycle. Her basic recipe calls for US All purpose flour which is has less gluten than Bread flour (or Canadian All purpose flour) and makes a less tenacious dough. This is a recipe for a chewy regular or deep crust.

RecipeFlour (Volume)Flour (US oz.)Flour g.Water (Vol.)Water g.B%Salt g.Instant yeast g.
Basic3.5 cups 16.625 4711.33 cups31567%8.6 (1.5 tsp.)5.6 (2 tsp.)

A home cook can mix dough, divide it into balls and refrigerate or freeze dough balls for future use. A recipe that uses 3 cups of flour will make enough dough for a large pizza or 2 smaller pizzas, or 4 small or thin pizzas.

Some grocery stores sell pizza dough balls. These are warmed or thawed, shaped, topped and baked at home. The Holy Napoli brand distributed by a firm in Port Coquitlam is available in local stores, occasionally. The dough ball is 300 g., and contains 1.3 g. sodium, 72% of the RDA. Salt is crystallized sodium chloride, not pure sodium. A recipe for 300 g. of wet dough will, normally, require 3.3 g. salt (a little more than half a teaspoon of table salt). The other ingredients are flour, water and yeast. I am not sure how to compare frozen dough to wet dough at room temperature. 300 g. of wet dough is a little less than 200 g. (1.5 cups) of flour and a letter more than 100 g. (less than half a cup) of water. That seems to be a normal ratio of salt to flour, consistent with other dough recipes.

Any of the dough recipes above would have to be adjusted to reduce sodium. for users with hypertension or salt sensitivity, or concerned to limit consumption of sodium. A pre-mixed dough, or course, cannot be adjusted. A pizza made from scatch can be heathier than a frozen, pre-made pizza, or pizza made with pre-mixed dough.

Frozen pizza is a dressed pizza on a partially baked crust. It is kept frozen and is baked in an oven in about 15-20 minutes in a 400-425 degree (F) oven to finish the crust and heat the pizza to serving temperature. Frozen pizzas are easily heated and baked. They are not healthier than other pizzas. A short survey of some 10 inch (25 cm.) frozen pizzas in the freezer cases of local grocery stores follows. For some of these pizzas, the calories, sodium and other food facts label ingredients are stated for a 1/4 pizza serving. The numbers here are for the whole pizza. The processed frozen pizzas are not more salty than some pizza dough recipes, but that is not saying much. I include the % of USDA RDA (which is 2,300 mg.):

Dr. OetkerRistoranteThin CrustplainMargherita330 g.8401260 mg., 55% RDA
Dr. OetkerRistoranteThin CrustplainSpinach390 g.9101420 mg., 62% RDA
Dr. OetkerRistoranteThin CrustplainVegetable385 g.7601560 mg., 64% RDA
Dr. OetkerGood Baker

Spinach &
Pumpkin Seeds
Vegan350 g.720 g.1340 mg., 58% RDA

Much of the sodium found in the industrially processed frozen pizza is in the dough. On industrially processed frozen pizza, the processed cheese is abundant, and salty. They contain wheat flour unless the product is a gluten free fake pizza. There is soy bean oil, and there are mystery additives. These products are convenient, but not particularly tasty.

Zambri’s, a restaurant in Victoria sells a proprietary “Pantry” line of frozen restaurant dishes, including pizza. The pizzas are not labelled with retail nutrition/food facts labels. The pizza are larger, thicker and heavier than those above – about 580-600 g.

Some stores have Pillsbury pizza dough in a tube. The ingredient lists indicate that the dough has been mixed to bake to some thing like a frozen pizza. The oil is soy oil, and there are mystery additives.


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