8 Golden Rules to Make a Tasty Neapolitan-Style Pizza

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The tastiest Italian pizza comes from an exuberant city in southern Italy that surrounds a dormant volcano called Vesuvius. It’s Napoli, the city where I was born.  There, Pizza is art and religion at the same time, a specialty always prepared to reach an inimitable texture and softness. Although only Neapolitan Pizzaioli (pizza makers) know the secret for the finest pizza in the world, I believe – due to several abortive attempts and hundreds of pizzas tasted in the best Neapolitan pizzerias – that I have my say in this matter. I am ready to share a pizza recipe together with tips I am sure can help you improve your homemade dough.

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The calories in pizza

A thin base with fresh ingredients cannot fatten you up. Well, almost. A pizza Margherita (tomato, oil and mozzarella) contains  570 Kcal for 210 grams (more or less the classic size), 270 Kcal per 100 grams. Not bad, isn’t it? However, a pizza with mushrooms in olive oil, olives and artichokes can easily reach 800 Kcal per serving, while Pizza with ham provides 913 Kcal per serving. Meaning of the story: if you are watching your calories make sure to choose minimal toppings. A little less cheese will not affect the taste of your pizza.

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The pizza I want to eat

Good and fresh ingredients make a huge difference. Using a strong flour is essential. However a Neapolitan pizza would never be so special if it wasn’t baked in a wood fired oven (forno a legna, in Italian), where the high temperatures (almost 500 degrees) keeps the thin dough soft. Pizza is baked in just 60-90 seconds. No matter how much yeast or water the dough contains, there is no enough time for it to dry out its water and to become like a cracker.

Doomed to use a conventional oven, I aim to get a decent thin pizza, like the one I have recently tasted in Notting Hill.  When I spread the dough out in a thin layer, cooking time becomes crucial: if I cook my pizza a little longer, I get a biscuit (a burnt one!). The pizza I want to make, instead, is crisp at the edges, not hard, not dry, soft inside – yet so thin – to feel in any bite both the fragrance of the topping and the soft consistency of the base.

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8 Golden rules

These are a few essential guidelines to consider while preparing a pizza dough:

  1. The ratio of water to flour of 1 to 3 (it depend on the flour, but if you use a strong one this is the right ratio).
  2. Get a strong flour. What does a “strong flour” mean? As a rule of thumb, a flour containing at least 10% proteins.
  3. No oil and no butter in the mixture. All you need is a good flour, water and yeast.
  4. Use sea salt for a better rising.
  5. Always avoid to mix salt and yeast together since salt stops the rising process.
  6. Let the dough rise at room temperature for a long time, at least two hours.
  7. You have to mix the flour with hot water. Even if it is summer.
  8. Your electric oven  should be already on at full power when you put the pizza in (switch it on at least 15 minutes before). Then turn the heat down  (20 degrees less)  and bake.

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6 Golden Rules to Make a Tasty Neapolitan-Style Pizza

Serving Size: 1 oven baking tray

Ingredients

  • For the dough:
  • 4 cups strong flour (plus a half cup needed during the preparation)
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the center of the mixture.
  2. Put the yeast at the center and mix everything with a wooden spoon while incorporating the hot water. Use your hands, if necessary. Let rise in the bowl covered with a wet towel until doubled in volume (2-3 hours).
  3. On to a work surface you have sprinkled generously with flour, knead the dough and shape it into a ball.
  4. Prepare the topping: anything you like! If you want a tomato base you can just use a tomato can. My last version had potatoes (thinly cut), olives, rosemary, cherry tomatoes and a bit of cheese on top.
  5. Roll out the dough to cover your baking tray. Sprinkle with topping ingredients, salt and olive oil.
  6. Place the tray on the bottom rack of the oven (preheated at 250 degrees) and when the edges are detached from the baking tray (after 10 minutes or so) put it in the center of the oven and add the mozzarella (in case).
  7. Keep cooking for a couple of minutes more. Your pizza is ready when the edges are golden brown.

 

 

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