There's something undeniably magical about the perfect slice of pizza - the crispy crust, the bubbling cheese, the harmony of toppings blending together in a symphony of flavors. This Neapolitan Pizza Recipe is more than just a dish; it's an art form, a universal language, and a comfort food that transcends borders.
Lets embark on a journey through the world of pizza, exploring its rich history, unraveling the secrets of crafting the ideal dough, and savoring the creativity of countless topping combinations. Whether you're a passionate pizzaiolo, a curious home cook, or simply someone who loves the mouthwatering aroma of a fresh pie emerging from the oven, our pizza-centric odyssey has something for everyone. We'll dive deep into the science of dough fermentation, share mouthwatering recipes inspired by Italian traditions, and even push the boundaries with unconventional, but undeniably delicious, topping choices.
What is Neapolitan Pizza?
Neapolitan pizza, often referred to simply as "Pizza Napoletana," is a traditional style of pizza that originated in Naples, Italy. It is known for its simplicity, high-quality ingredients, and adherence to specific preparation and cooking methods. Neapolitan pizza is celebrated for its thin, soft, and slightly chewy crust, which is often characterized by its characteristic leopard-spotted charred spots.
Why you will love this recipe
- Authenticity: This recipe follows the traditional Neapolitan pizza-making process, using high-quality ingredients and methods that have been perfected over centuries in Naples, Italy.
- Simplicity: Neapolitan pizza is all about simplicity, allowing the flavors of the minimalistic toppings and the high-quality dough to shine. It's a culinary experience that celebrates the pure essence of each ingredient.
- Quality Ingredients: The recipe emphasizes the use of premium ingredients like '00' pizza flour, San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil. These components contribute to the exceptional taste and texture of the pizza.
- Tender, Chewy Crust: The dough is made with care, resulting in a soft and slightly chewy crust with a beautiful leopard-spotted char. The long fermentation process enhances the flavor and texture of the dough.
- Quick Cooking: The pizza cooks in a blazing hot wood-fired oven in just a minute or two, creating a perfect balance between a crispy exterior and a soft, tender interior.
- Versatility: While the classic Margherita is highlighted, you can easily customize your Neapolitan pizza with your favorite toppings, herbs, or additional ingredients to suit your taste.
In summary, this Neapolitan pizza recipe is a culinary masterpiece that embodies the essence of authentic Italian pizza. Its simplicity, quality ingredients, and the joy of making it from scratch make it a recipe that pizza enthusiasts and food lovers alike will cherish and enjoy.
Neapolitan Pizza Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- King Arthur '00' Pizza Flour
- Instant yeast
- Marinara sauce
- Mozzarella cheese
- Pepperoni slices
- Olive oil
See recipe card for Neapolitan Pizza Recipe quantities.
How to make Neapolitan Pizza
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Mix these dry ingredients together. Gradually add the lukewarm water to the dry ingredients while stirring. Continue to mix until a dough forms. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5-7 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Alternatively, you can use a mixer with a dough hook attachment. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for about 12 hours or until it doubles in size.
Preheat oven to 500°F. Punch down the risen dough to release any air bubbles. Divide it into two equal portions if you want to make two smaller pizzas or keep it whole for a larger one. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into your desired pizza shape. You can make it round, square, or any shape you prefer.
Carefully remove the preheated pizza stone or baking sheet from the oven. Place the rolled-out dough on a piece of parchment paper (for easy transfer) and then onto the hot pizza stone or baking sheet. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce over the dough, leaving a small border around the edges for the crust. Sprinkle a generous amount of shredded mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Add your choice of pepperoni or salami slices on top of the cheese.
Carefully transfer the pizza (on the parchment paper) back into the preheated oven. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Remove the pizza from the oven using a pizza peel or a large spatula. Drizzle a little olive oil over the hot pizza for added flavor. Slice and serve your delicious homemade pizza immediately. Enjoy your homemade pizza with your chosen toppings! You can customize it with additional ingredients like fresh herbs, garlic, or vegetables if you like.
Hint: If you're using a pizza stone or baking sheet in a home oven, preheat it for at least 30 minutes at the highest temperature your oven can reach. This ensures a hot surface for baking the pizza quickly.
- Flour: While '00' pizza flour is ideal for Neapolitan pizza, you can substitute it with bread flour or all-purpose flour if '00' flour is unavailable. Bread flour will give you a chewier crust, while all-purpose flour will result in a slightly softer crust.
- Yeast: If you don't have instant yeast or active dry yeast, you can use fresh yeast. The conversion ratio is typically 2:1 (2 parts fresh yeast for 1 part dry yeast). So if the recipe calls for ⅛ teaspoon of instant yeast, you can use ¼ teaspoon of fresh yeast.
- Sugar: You can substitute granulated sugar with honey or maple syrup in the same quantity for a slightly different flavor profile.
- Salt: If you don't have the specified salt, you can use another type of salt, such as kosher salt or sea salt. Just be mindful that different salts have different saltiness levels, so adjust the quantity accordingly.
- Water: Lukewarm water can be substituted with lukewarm milk or a combination of milk and water for a softer crust. You can also add a tablespoon of olive oil to the water or milk for extra richness.
- Marinara Sauce: If you can't find marinara sauce, you can use any tomato sauce like vodka sauce.
- Mozzarella Cheese: While fresh mozzarella is the traditional choice, you can use low-moisture mozzarella if you prefer a firmer texture or other cheese varieties like provolone, fontina, or Parmesan for unique flavor profiles.
- Toppings: Neapolitan pizza is known for its simplicity, but you can customize with your favorite toppings or use what's available. Vegetables, herbs, meats, and even non-traditional toppings can work well.
- Olive Oil: Extra-virgin olive oil is the go-to choice, but you can use regular olive oil if that's what you have on hand.
Neapolitan Pizza Recipe Variations
Cooking is a chance to be creative! Have fun with it and feel free to make your own variation.
- Margherita with Burrata: A twist on the classic Margherita, this version adds creamy burrata cheese on top of the traditional mozzarella, creating a rich and indulgent pizza.
- Prosciutto and Arugula: After baking the Margherita, top it with thinly sliced prosciutto and a handful of fresh arugula. The contrast of flavors and textures is delightful.
- Quattro Formaggi: Replace the mozzarella with a blend of four cheeses like mozzarella, gorgonzola, fontina, and Parmesan. It's a cheesy heaven for cheese lovers.
- Pizza Bianca: Instead of tomato sauce, use a white sauce made from ricotta cheese, garlic, olive oil, and herbs. Top it with mozzarella and your favorite toppings.
- Capricciosa: This pizza includes artichoke hearts, black olives, ham or prosciutto, mushrooms, and an egg cracked in the center just before baking. It's a flavorful combination of ingredients.
- Sausage and Peppers: Sautéed Italian sausage slices and bell peppers make a hearty and flavorful topping combination.
Check out this Pizza Margherita Napoletana.
To make this Neapolitan Pizza Recipe, you will need:
- Wood-Fired Pizza Oven (Recommended): While not strictly necessary, an authentic Neapolitan pizza is traditionally cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven. These ovens reach extremely high temperatures, typically around 800°F (427°C), and cook the pizza in just a minute or two. If you have access to one, it will enhance the flavor and texture of your pizza significantly.
- Pizza Stone: If you don't have a wood-fired oven, a pizza stone is a great alternative. Preheat it in your conventional home oven to mimic the high-temperature cooking of a wood-fired oven. Place the stone on the oven's highest rack and let it preheat for at least 30 minutes at your oven's highest setting.
- Pizza Peel: A pizza peel is a long, flat wooden or metal tool used to slide the pizza onto the hot surface (oven or pizza stone) and retrieve it once it's done baking. It's essential for transferring the pizza without burning yourself or losing its shape.
- Mixer or Mixing Bowl: You'll need a mixer or a mixing bowl and your hands to prepare the pizza dough. A stand mixer with a dough hook attachment can make the kneading process easier.
- Digital Kitchen Scale: To achieve precision in measuring your ingredients, especially for the dough, a digital kitchen scale is highly recommended.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: For measuring smaller quantities of ingredients like yeast, sugar, and salt.
- Rolling Pin or Dough Roller: You'll need this to roll out the pizza dough into the desired shape. Be gentle to avoid compressing the dough too much.
- Parchment Paper: To make it easier to transfer the pizza onto the pizza stone or into the oven, place the rolled-out dough on a piece of parchment paper.
- Pizza Cutter or Chef's Knife: Use a pizza cutter or a sharp chef's knife to slice the pizza into portions once it's baked.
- Spatula or Tongs: For removing the hot pizza from the oven or pizza stone safely.
- Oven Mitts or Heat-Resistant Gloves: To protect your hands when working with hot surfaces and retrieving the pizza from the oven.
- Cooling Rack: After removing the pizza from the oven, it's a good idea to let it cool slightly on a cooling rack to prevent the crust from getting soggy.
- Timer: To keep track of the short cooking time in the oven, use a timer to avoid overcooking the pizza.
How to store Neapolitan Pizza
- Cool the Pizza: Allow the Neapolitan pizza to cool down to room temperature for about 15-20 minutes after baking. This prevents condensation from forming inside the storage container, which can lead to a soggy crust.
- Slice the Pizza: If you have a whole pizza, it's best to slice it into individual portions. This makes it easier to reheat and reduces the risk of the crust becoming overly moist.
- Wrap in Plastic Wrap or Foil: Wrap each pizza slice or the entire pizza (if it's small) tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Ensure that the wrap is sealed well to prevent moisture from getting in or out.
- Place in an Airtight Container: If you have an airtight container that can accommodate the pizza slices without squishing them, you can use it instead of foil or plastic wrap. Just be sure it's truly airtight to prevent moisture infiltration.
- Refrigerate or Freeze: If you plan to consume the leftover pizza within a day or two, store it in the refrigerator. Neapolitan pizza is best eaten fresh, so try to consume it promptly. If you need to store it for an extended period (up to a month), you can freeze it. Place the wrapped pizza in a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag to prevent freezer burn.
Neapolitan Pizza Recipe Top tips
- Use High-Quality Ingredients: Start with the best-quality ingredients you can find. This includes '00' pizza flour, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil. Quality ingredients will make a significant difference in the taste of your pizza.
- Measure Accurately: Use a digital kitchen scale to measure ingredients, especially for the pizza dough. Accurate measurements ensure consistent results.
- Knead the Dough Properly: Kneading the dough is crucial for developing gluten and achieving the right texture. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, but don't over-knead, as this can make the crust tough.
- Long Fermentation: Allow the pizza dough to ferment for an extended period, preferably 8-24 hours. This slow fermentation enhances the flavor and texture of the dough.
- Preheat Your Oven or Pizza Stone: If you're using a pizza stone or baking sheet in a home oven, preheat it for at least 30 minutes at the highest temperature your oven can reach. This ensures a hot surface for baking the pizza quickly.
- Use Parchment Paper: To transfer the pizza onto the hot stone or baking sheet, place it on parchment paper. This makes it easier to slide the pizza onto the hot surface without sticking.
- Keep It Simple: Neapolitan pizza is all about simplicity. Stick to a few high-quality toppings and avoid overloading the pizza, which can make it soggy.
- Cook Quickly: Neapolitan pizza should cook in just 60-90 seconds in a hot oven or pizza stone. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.
- Rotate the Pizza: To ensure even cooking and browning of the crust, rotate the pizza using a pizza peel or tongs during baking.
- Master the Cornicione: The crust edge (cornicione) should be slightly raised, soft, and airy. To achieve this, use your fingers to gently push air toward the edge while stretching the dough.
- Don't Overdo the Sauce: Use a light hand when applying tomato sauce to avoid making the dough soggy. A few spoonfuls spread evenly should suffice.
- Fresh Toppings: Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients for toppings like basil, herbs, and vegetables for the best flavor.
- Finishing Touch: Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the hot pizza just before serving for added flavor and shine.
- Slice and Serve Immediately: Neapolitan pizza is best enjoyed fresh out of the oven. Slice it and serve it immediately to savor the crispy crust and melted cheese.
- Experiment and Practice: Making Neapolitan pizza takes practice. Don't be discouraged if your first attempt isn't perfect. Experiment with different toppings and techniques to find what works best for your taste.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove