Although pizzas and flatbreads may seem identical at first glance, there are several crucial differences between the two. What are the distinctions between flatbread and pizza? Any kind of bread that doesn’t call for yeast or any other chemical leavening is considered “flatbread.” However, pizza dough is typically made by mixing in yeast and then proving the dough until it doubles in size. Learn about the history of pizza and flatbread, the ingredients used in each, and the variety of toppings available by reading on!
It’s All In The Dough
Flatbreads and pizzas share more similarities than you might expect! While they may not appear the same anymore, the basic flatbread is seen as a forerunner to modern pizza. Pizza was invented in Italy and was commonly regarded as a “poor man’s” cuisine due to its usage of only dough, sauce, and cheese — with a few fresh herbs on top. It was a quick, simple, and (most importantly) inexpensive recipe that could give both energy and flavor in a single compact package!
The original pizza was created in Naples using flatbread dough. It is believed that focaccia bread was previously the standard basis for most pizzas. Initially, the bread was relished with a drizzle of olive oil, but people quickly began to experiment with additional additions.
This is when tomato sauce, herbs, and, of course, cheese were introduced as toppings — and the rest, as they say, is history! Pizzas are now made using both flatbread and conventional pizza dough! Interestingly, several countries are experimenting with classic flatbread concepts and creating their own versions of pizzas, such as the Tawa Pizza, Pizza Roti, or Pizza Naan (to name a few).
Differences Between Flatbread and Pizza
What, then, distinguishes flatbread from contemporary pizzas? Let’s look at what makes them who they are.
One thing all flatbreads have in common is that they are unleavened. This means they don’t rise as much as conventional pizza dough and are relatively flat, hence the name! Leavened dough, on the other hand, has extremely different qualities. Because of the chemical changes promoted by the yeast in the dough, it can be softer, airier, and have a distinct flavor. But that doesn’t make flatbreads any less appealing!
Flatbreads are one of the best-tasting varieties of bread in the world, and because of the sheer number of variations, they are also one of the most flexible. Flatbreads typically have a crisper texture with rich and delectable caramelization that happens as a result of the dough’s lack of moisture and air. When exposed to a woodfire or other heat source, the flattened dough renders quickly as the surplus water evaporates within minutes.
However, this technique has an interesting side effect. When a moist sauce, such as tomato sauce, is mixed into flatbread dough, it helps the dough stay moist and soft in the middle. Because the dough is not thick, the sauce can penetrate deep into the dough! Flatbread pizzas will typically have a crispy and thin edge with a moist and tasty middle — which may also have a faint crispy layer at the bottom.
Flatbreads are only cooked in huge, high-heat brick ovens that can cook the dough rapidly and without over-drying it for the best results. Remember that flatbreads lack moisture and solidity, which means that if cooked for an extended period of time, they could convert into crackers!
Another distinguishing feature is their form.
Flatbreads are often flattened out with a rolling pin then molded by hand to extend the dough’s edges, giving them an oval and unfinished shape. This is said to be part of the appeal of flatbread pizzas! They can also be created in rectangular shapes and, as is customary in Italy, be cut using scissors rather than a knife.
How Flatbread Is Made
Start with 2-3 cups of flour and season with salt to make flatbread. After that, gradually add water and start combining. To create dough, keep adding a little water at a time. When the dough is ready, give it a quick knead with your knuckles to make it soft and fluffy. Next, allow the dough to rest for one to two hours. Create little balls out of all the dough pieces by dividing it into equal portions.
Pick up a tiny dough ball and sprinkle it with some flour. The dough should be flattened with a rolling pin until it is circular. The dough’s sides should be physically stretched until they are equally thin. Apply the toppings next. Lift the dough with caution, and then put it in a hot brick oven. Cook for a few minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown.
Like conventional bread, flatbreads are made from straightforward components. As a result, they provide a milder flavor, which varies based on the toppings and degree of caramelization. Exotic toppings that aren’t often utilized with ordinary pizza dough are typically matched with flatbreads. For instance, goat’s cheese and even gravlax can be used to produce some flatbreads.
Since everyone approaches the dough differently, flatbread pizzas are one of the tastiest and most unexpected pies. In most circumstances, flatbreads offer much greater versatility and inventiveness. Compare these qualities to those of conventional pizza dough now.
The dough, as previously said, is the most noticeable distinction between flatbread and pizza. Pizza dough is leavened with yeast, which not only thickens but also gives the dough a softer and airier quality. Many different yeasts generate slightly varied doughs, but the majority of them have the same features.
How Pizza Dough Is Made
Pizza dough is made by combining flour, salt, water, sugar, and yeast. Because it is the main source of nutrition for the yeast, the sugar in the dough is crucial. Warm water is used to activate the yeast, which then begins to eat the sugar and starch. As a consequence of all this chewing, the yeast releases carbon gas. The dough is gradually lifted as a result of the carbon gas building up inside the dough’s molecular structure. Depending on the type of bread, the yeast, and even the surrounding weather, this procedure may take a few hours or perhaps a day.
Modern pizza dough has a distinct sweet and bread-like flavor, as opposed to flatbread, which mainly relies on the sauce for the same qualities. This means that pizza dough caramelizes better and may be more appealing to the general public, particularly the younger demographic seeking a savory, subtly sweet, and complex pizza. The yeasty and doughy flavor of pizza dough complements the cheese and other components.
To enhance the flavor of the dough, some pizzerias may even mix dairy items such as milk powder or other sweetened milk products. However, because not every pizza is the same, you should expect the same variety in ordinary pizza dough as in flatbreads.
Flatbread and pizza dough are also popular dough types. Many big brands, such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s, as well as independent pizzerias, provide multiple types of dough, indicating that there is a need for both!
Regular pizza can also be topped with a variety of ingredients. Because the beauty of pizza is that there is no accepted rule, you can experiment with toppings and flavors in a variety of ways. However, most pizzerias strive to stick to traditional flavors for conventional pizzas and save the innovation for flatbreads, which are typically viewed as gourmet.
Pizza and flatbread both use excellent dough, but there are some key distinctions between the two. Here are some questions that are linked now that you are aware of their differences.
Can flatbread be made at home?
The majority of simple flatbreads can be made at home on a cast iron pan. However, for flatbreads with toppings, you will almost certainly need a very hot oven. We recommend using a preheated pizza stone, which can simulate the characteristics of a brick oven even in an electric or gas oven.
Is flatbread healthier than pizza?
Simple components make up flatbread, which is typically devoid of the preservatives and enhancers that are present in most commercial doughs. Due to the absence of yeast and other chemical leavening agents in the dough, they may be simpler to digest and lighter on the stomach.