A fabulous, authentic tasting pizza Napoletana turns out perfect every time. The dough is crispy and better than what you'll get at most pizza places.
Is there any more famous example of Italian cuisine than pizza? Neapolitan pizza is served in restaurants and pizzerias all over the world today, but did you know that it’s actually the original pizza? That’s right, pizza is actually native to the Southern Italian city of Naples. Naples-style pizza isn’t exactly the same as some of the pizzas you may have tried, as it tends to be more rustic and minimalist with the ingredients. In Naples, pizza is serious business. No pineapple here!
In Naples, the main pizzas served are a simple pizza with tomato sauce, and the Margherita pizza. Legend has it that a pizza maker designed pizza Margherita to mimic the colors of the Italian flag: fresh basil for green, mozzarella for white, and a rich, delicious tomato sauce for the red.
What is Neapolitan Style Pizza?
In Naples, the home of pizza, this is the authentic, traditional style of pizza cooked every day all over the city. In Naples, pizza has a thin base, raised edges, and plenty of flavor. Naples pizza is round, no more than 14 inches in diameter, and cooked in a woodfire oven.
Real authentic Naples pizza is made with buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, and a delicious tomato sauce. Tomatoes and basil grow easily in the arid, temperate climate of the Campania region in which Naples is nestled, as do many other garnishes like oregano.
You’ll need a few key ingredients to make your awesome Naples pizza. Fortunately, as with most traditional Italian food, they’re all common, easy ingredients to use.
- Pizza Dough. While you can use pizza dough from the store, we recommend you try making it from scratch. Take a large bowl and combine flour, sugar, water, salt, and yeast. Next, cover the bowl containing the mixture with a damp cloth and allow it to prove.
- Pizza Sauce. As with the dough, although there are plenty of tomato sauces available in your local store, you can guarantee the best flavor with a homemade sauce. If you’re purchasing ready-to-eat sauce from the store, don’t be afraid to spring for the highest quality you can find.
- Fresh Mozzarella Cheese. You’ll need fresh, creamy mozzarella for this recipe. If you can get it - specialist Italian delis are great for this - get yourself some genuine Italian buffalo mozzarella. You want your mozzarella to be of the highest quality, not the pre-shredded packaged stuff.
- Basil Leaves. Often, Italian families have basil growing in the back yard or nearby the house. We love the taste of fresh basil leaves on a perfectly cooked Neapolitan pizza! Of course, if you don’t have a basil plant handy, you should check your supermarket’s fresh produce section to see if you can get some fresh basil leaves.
- Cornmeal. It’s not an ingredient, per se, but we’ll be using cornmeal (or semolina flour) to prevent the pizza dough from sticking to your hands, the counter or the pizza stone.
How To Make Neapolitan Pizza
- The pizza dough: Add the flour, INSTANT yeast, sugar,salt and warm water to a bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook. Mix on a low speed until the dough forms. Gradually increase the speed to medium until a ball forms. This usually takes about 1-2 minutes. If the dough is sticky, add more flour.If it is too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons water.
- Allow the mixer to knead it for 5-8 minutes at medium-high speed. Drizzle the dough with olive oil to prevent it from drying out, cover the the bowl with a damp towel and allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven together with a pizza stone ( if you plan to use it) to 500°F| 260°C.
- Make the pizza: Stretch the dough and shape it into a circle using your hands. Do not over work or fold the dough. If the dough resists stretching, put it down and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the parchment paper with cornmeal. Place the stretched dough on the parchment paper and immediately spoon the pizza sauce onto the dough and spread it all over, leaving ½-1 inch around the edges for the crust. Arrange the slices of mozzarella cheese on the top.
- Place the pizza in the preheated oven ( or on the pizza stone if using any).
- Bake for 7-8 minutes.
Pizza in Italy is a very serious topic. There are governing bodies who decide whether or not restaurants can call their pizza Neapolitan. Neapolitan pizza has a protected status decided by a governing body. You need to use the traditional pizza-making techniques honed in Naples over centuries to qualify.
Real Neapolitan pizza must be made using particular varieties of tomatoes, and mozzarella from the milk of the Italian water buffalo.
Most of the pizza we can try in the rest of the world - particularly the US - either traces its lineage to Naples or Sicily. Sicilian pizza, from the island of Sicily just off the Italian mainland’s coast, is thicker, crunchier, and larger than Neapolitan pizza. Sicily has a long history of trade between European, Arabic, and African cultures, and its cuisine reflects this in a broader variety - and greater quantity - of toppings, compared with Neapolitan pizza’s relatively sparse choice of toppings.
Margherita is a very popular type of pizza, and you’ll find it served in places that don’t do any Neapolitan pizza. Margherita pizza means the classic toppings of basil, mozzarella, tomato, and some olive oil. Margherita typically means that these are the only toppings on a pizza. While you can get Neapolitan-style Margherita pizza, you can also enjoy the margherita on other styles of pizza, too.
Strictly speaking, Neapolitan pizza is made using extremely high heat in a traditional pizza oven. That means wood fire and a pizza stone in a large stone oven.
If you don’t have a traditional Neapolitan pizza oven in your house, don’t worry! You can still use your regular oven. As long as your oven is capable of reaching temperatures of 500 F, you’ll do just fine.
Neapolitan Pizza Tips
- In Naples, they keep things very simple when it comes to toppings. Mozzarella and fresh basil are all you really need to get the real Neapolitan experience. If you like, you can add some black pepper or chili flakes to add some kick and spice to your pizza.
- We recommend that you make your pizza dough ahead of time, refrigerating it for two to three days. When the dough has time to prove, your pizza will taste noticeably better. Neapolitan pizza has a distinctively delicious pizza dough, so enjoy making the dough a few days before you make your pizza.
- For a crispy crust, roll your dough so it’s nice and thin. When making your pizza at home, you can customize it to your heart’s content. Sure, the governing bodies of Neapolitan pizza back in Naples won’t approve of too many alterations to the rules, but it’s your kitchen and you can do as you like!
- Be sure to pat your mozzarella dry with paper towels to prevent the water from soaking your crust. This will help you avoid letting the crust get soggy. Similarly, when it comes to Neapolitan pizza, be careful not to over-sauce the pizza. Too much sauce will also make the pizza crust damp and soggy, rather than the deliciously crispy pizza you want.
- To prevent your basil from charring or withering, add it to the pizza only after you’ve cooked it. Fresh basil doesn’t react well to the intense heat of a pizza oven, or even a regular oven. To keep your delicate basil leaves soft, fresh, and fragrant, add them to the pizza once it’s out of the oven.
- When it comes to Neapolitan pizza, you won’t be laying the toppings on thick. We encourage you to try erring on the side of caution when adding your toppings to the pizza, and risking having a little too little rather than a little too much. This doesn’t mean you should be sparse! Rather, unlike Sicilian pizza, Neapolitan pizza is all about the combo of the crust and the ingredients, rather than the crust simply being a vehicle for the toppings. You’ve made an awesome Neapolitan-style pizza crust, so let it be the star of the show!
- As a general rule, when applying the sauce, you should always leave about an inch around the edges without sauce on. This will form your beautifully raised crispy crust. Your pizza base ought to be about 14 inches around, while the sauce will cover about 12 inches around (one inch for each side) of this surface area. Be sure to distribute the sauce evenly as this gets the most consistent flavor and cooking experience.
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