Pizza is one of the most popular foods across the world and it all originated in a small restaurant in Naples, Italy. While there are countless styles of pizza from the crispy NY Style to deep dish Chicago style, there is nothing quite like a classic Neapolitan pizza. The most popular variation (pizza margherita) is quite simple and only includes a few ingredients. The toppings are delicious and mirror the colors of the Italian flag: tomatoes (red), fresh mozzarella (white) and basil (green).
The word pizza comes from the Arabic word “pita” which means bread. Pita bread has always been incredibly popular throughout the world, but it wasn’t until Italians added a few classic toppings that this bread transformed into what is now known as pizza.
What Makes the Perfect Neapolitan Pizza?
Italians take their recipes extremely seriously and their pizzas are no exception. In fact, in 1984, the True Neapolitan Pizza Association (AVPN) was founded with a mission to promote and protect the true Neapolitan pizza. They clearly defined the rules of making authentic pizza and certify pizzerias across the globe if they meet certain standards. According to the AVPN, the first step in making sure pizzas follow a true Neapolitan standard is by checking the final product. If the pizza is roundish, presents a raised edge, and is soft/fragrant, it’s a good sign they’re following tradition.
Next comes the most important components, the ingredients. The dough must be a perfect ratio of water, salt, yeast and flour. While resting, the chef should cover it with a damp cloth so the surface cannot become hard during fermentation. Once the dough is formed, the pizza is topped with tomato, buffalo mozzarella (sliced) or fior di latte (cut into strips), fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.
Making the Dough
Making the pizza dough for Neapolitan pizza can be a bit technical but if you follow the steps carefully, you’ll enjoy a delicious pie! The flour is the most important component for pizza dough and with Caputo’s Contemporary Neapolitan flour you can achieve the authentic flavors found in small pizzerias of Italy. This recipe makes a large amount of dough, but you’re welcome to divide down to the amount you’re looking for. To start on the first step of this process you’ll need: 16.5 lbs. flour, 8.25 lbs. water, and 1.3oz fresh yeast.
- Add the water in the mixture and melt the yeast
- Add the flour and start the mixer, mixing for only 3-4 minutes
- Take the BIGA out of the mixer and break apart in container
- Then cover with plastic and make some holes to let the BIGA breathe at 64F
For the second step, you’ll need 28.5 lbs. flour, 33lbs water, and 22oz salt.
- Place the BIGA in the mixer and break apart
- Then add 60% of the water and start your mixer, adding salt after 2 minutes, the rest of the flour after 3 more minutes, and finally the rest of the water until your dough is nice and smooth (15 min max)
- Place the dough on the table and let it rest for 30 minutes covering it in plastic (or the traditional method which is covering with wet cloth)
- Divide into your desired size and place the balls in trays to ferment at room temperature (64-68F) for about 4 hours
Now you’ve successfully made delicious and authentic pizza dough and it’s time to top it off and bake it!
Different Types of Neapolitan Pizza
The classic and most popular pizza ordered in the Neapolitan style is the pizza margherita but there are other variations. The first is pizza marinara which you top with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra-virgin olive oil making the main difference the absence of cheese. The second variation is the pizza margherita extra. This pie substitutes the classic mozzarella you find on pizza margherita for mozzarella di Bufala, a creamier alternative.
The most traditional cooking method for these pizzas is in a piping hot stone oven with wood fire for 1-1.5 minutes. If you’re looking to make this at home, try using a pizza stone in a hot oven. The best way to know your pizza is done is if it has a thin soft middle and a slight char on the crust. Whether you’re heading to Naples or bringing the delicious flavors of Italy to your kitchen, you’ll love this classic Neapolitan pizza. Buon appetito!