The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Dough

Did you realize there were different types of dough? There are! The combination of a few basic ingredients and the method for preparing them can turn into so many wonderful foods to feed your family and friends. From bread dough, to pizza dough, to pastry dough or pie crust and beyond. Keep reading to learn all about dough and have greater success in the kitchen.

Dough – Basic Ingredients

For the purposes of this article we are going to focus on types of dough that start with a few basic ingredients. A mixture of flour, water and some sort of fat, like olive oil, lard or butter.

Some types of dough contain a leavening agent and some do not. We will go into further detail about leavening agents later in this post under the section leavened dough and unleavened dough.

History of Dough

The history of dough and the use of dough can be found in every culture from the Ancient Egyptians, across Europe and Asia and into the Americas. The earliest recording of making dough was found on Sumarian Tablets in as early as 260 BC. and referenced sacred crops of rice, soy, wheat, barley and millet.

Use the Right Type of Flour

There are different types of flour that you can use in baking and they will produce different results or different types of dough. Different types of wheat have different protein contents. The protein content will indicate how much gluten is in the flour and will determine the structure and texture of your finished product.

  1. All Purpose Flour is what most people have on hand and is good for most recipes. All purpose flour has a moderate protein content of 10-12 percent and is milled from a mixture of hard and soft wheat varieties. Use all purpose flour for the best results with bread, cookies, biscuits, pizza dough pasta and muffins.
  2. Bread flour has a higher concentration of protein at 12-14% which indicates a higher gluten content which helps your bread rise and create a chewy texture. Use bread flour for the best results in making chewy breads like baguettes, foccacia, bagels, pizza dough and pretzels.
  3. Self Rising Flour is usually made with soft wheat and has a protein content of 8-9% but also has added baking powder and salt. Proceed with caution when using self rising flour if the recipe doesn’t call for it and if the recipe has additional salt or baking powder.
  4. Cake Flour has the least gluten of any flour discussed in this article and has 5-8% protein content. Use cake flour when you want to make a soft dough. Examples of soft doughs would be those for muffins and cakes where you want a soft, tender crumb.
  5. Pastry Flour falls between cake flour and all purpose flour when it come to protein content at 8-9%. Use pastry flour for pie crust and tarts.
  6. Whole Wheat Flour has the highest protein content of all at 13-14%. But because the wheat germ is still present whole wheat flour spoils more quickly than while flour and does not rise or form gluten in the same way. As a result, baked goods made with whole wheat flour are flatter and denser than doughs made with white flours.
  7. Gluten-Free Flour is, you guessed it, not made from wheat. Gluten free flour can be made from rice, corn, potato, tapioca and a number of other things. We are going to focus on wheat based recipes. I wanted to mention gluten-free flour because it is so popular. An important note about gluten free flours, they are not always a 1 to 1 substitute for wheat flours so don’t try to substitute try to find a recipe that has been developed for gluten free flour.
  8. 00 Flour is most commonly referred to as “Italian Style Flour”. 00 Flour typically has a protein content of 11-12% and is ground super fine allowing it to be rolled very thin, making it perfect for pasta recipes.

As you can see, the type of flour you use in your recipes will produce different results. Unless a specific type of flour is called for in your recipe all purpose flour is a good go to flour for many recipes.

Leavened Dough

Leavened dough uses a leavening agent to make the dough rise and in some cases develop the flavor of the finished product.

Most people think of yeast when they think of leavening agents. But there are other ingredients that can play a part in making a leavened dough. Baking powder and baking soda are referred to as chemical leavening agents and are key ingredients for making biscuit dough and cookie dough. Other leavening agents that can be used are beer, Kefir and steam.

Yeast is probably the most used leavening agent and is known as a biological leavening agent. Yeast produces carbon dioxide as it blooms and activates the gluten strands in the flour. As the gluten develops the bread rises the flavor and texture develop. The gluten development takes time and is the reason why many bread dough recipes require kneading and multiple rises to develop the gluten structure and the flavor of the bread.

There are two methods for making leavened dough, these methods are called sponge dough and straight dough method.

  1. The sponge dough method involves blooming the yeast at room temperature. When using the sponge dough method you add yeast and sugar to warm water and allow the yeast to “bloom” or develop before adding the dry ingredients. Once all of the ingredients are combined the dough will be kneaded until smooth. The dough will then be allowed to rest in a warm place until it doubles in size before cooking. Pay attention to your recipe as some doughs require multiple rises.
  2. The straight dough method skips the blooming step. All ingredients are combined and mixed with a spoon or stand mixer until the dough achieves a smooth and elastic texture.

There are many different types of leavened doughs that use a variety of leavening agents, but each produces a different finished product with different flavors and textures. Examples of leavened doughs:

  • Bread Dough is typically a yeast dough and probably the most commonly used dough and involves mixing water, yeast and wheat based flour. The dough mixed and then kneaded until it reaches a smooth and elastic texture. Multiple rises and kneading may be involved depending on the recipe. These doughs are often referred to as lean dough. They have few ingredients.
  • Pizza Dough or Pizza Crust is another yeast/lean dough that can be purchased or easily made at home. Pizza dough, unlike bread dough uses a cold fermentation process for the best results. This is known as retarding the dough or retardation, the dough is placed in the refrigerator to slow down the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast. This results in a better flavor and an airy texture. If you are looking for a New York Style Pizza Dough try cold fermentation for the best result. Try our Cold Fermented Pizza Dough Recipe.
  • Brioche Dough is a leavened dough made with yeast that is fortified with eggs, liquid (milk, water or sometimes brandy) and butter. Also known as an enriched dough.The end result? A soft, pillowy bread that makes the most amazing French Toast!
  • Sourdough success starts with a sourdough starter. You can make your own or get one from a friend. This is a good article on how to start one and enjoy your own homemade sourdough for years to come.
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Pretzels
  • Quick Breads are leavened doughs that typically rely on chemical leavening agents like baking soda or baking powder.
  • Dinner Rolls
Types of Dough a woman's hand holding a fork piercing short crust pastry or pie dough prior to baking.

Unleavened Doughs

While leavened doughs rely on leavening agents to produce a rise and create structure, unleavened doughs also produce amazing and delicious results. Unleavened doughs do not rise and are flaky doughs. Think tortillas, pie crust, crackers, flaky pastries. The possibilities are endless!

The method for making unleavened dough can be pretty easy, or pretty complex. We will cover the methods for making unleavened doughs and the different types of pastry dough next. .

  1. Pie Dough or shortcrust pastry is a key dough and a great recipe to master to make many savory and sweet dishes including quiches, tarts and pies. Shortcrust pastry is easily made in a food processor. The trick to success is to use very cold water, and cold butter. Using cold butter and not overworking the dough are critical in the final product having a tender flaky crust. Another tip, shape your dough into a ball, flatten to a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out your pie crust. This will allow the butter to solidify before going into the hot oven and give your pie crust a flaky texture.
  2. Choux Pastry or pate a choux is a dough that is made by combining water, butter and salt in a pot, heating until the butter melts and adding flour. The mixture is then beaten using a hand mixer or stand mixer until cool, eggs are then added. This dough is the pastry found in cream puffs and eclairs.
  3. Puff Pastry is a laminated dough, Making puff pastry is a very labor intensive process. It starts by making a dough of flour, water and salt. The dough is then rolled into a square and topped with layers of butter and folded multiple times and rolled again to create layers. Its refrigerated and rolled many (up to 6 times) to create layers of dough and butter. Not to discourage you if you have the time to experiment with this, but you might have a career as a pastry chef if you master this one!
  4. Phyllo Dough is similar to puff pastry but doesn’t include butter in the dough like the French version. Butter or fat is added when you use the dough to separate the layers as you make then end product. Adding fat between each layer will result in flaky layers.
  5. Pasta Dough is typically made with flour, eggs and salt. It is then rolled thin and cut or rolled into familiar shapes like Fettuccine or ravioli and dropped in boiling water. There are many variations you can try here that cross over into different cultures like German Spaetzle, dumplings and many more.
  6. Tortilla dough is an unleavened dough that is popular in Mexican cuisine. Flour, water and lard are mixed together, shaped into disks and fried in a hot dry skillet.
Different types of dough, unleavened dough made into Fettuccine pasta dusted with flour on a wooden board.

Types of Dough – Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed todays article on the different types of dough and the uses for them. If you have questions we would love to see them in the comments as we are always working to improve our content. Thanks for stopping by please bookmark our pages or subscribe to receive new content.

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