Tuesday, August 30, 2022

How to Make Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Dough (Pizza Napoletana)

Bring your pizza night to the next level with a traditional and authentic Neapolitan Pizza (Pizza Napoletana) made from scratch in your own home... just like Italians do!

Today I present you with the original, the traditional, the world-renowned and most beloved recipe for pizza Napoletana (Neapolitan Pizza). 

With its thin and light crust at the base and pillowy, thick and bubbly crust around the edges, Neapolitan pizza is a one-of-a-kind mouthwatering pizza that you won't easily forget.

You will recognize a pizza Napoletana by those unique charred spots all around the crust, that you get with a light and airy dough that puffs up  when quickly baked at extra high temperatures, and possibly in a wood fire oven.

Neapolitan pizzas are generally topped with light and simple ingredients. 
Think: fresh cherry tomatoes or a light tomato sauce; some fresh mozzarella or burrata cheese; maybe olives, prosciutto, arugula, oregano. Some fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil are a must!

Simple and light is key when talking about true Italian pizza!
What makes Neapolitan pizza different from any other pizza (Romana, NY style ... ) is mainly the crust. 
No matter what you use for toppings, the main differences is in how you make the dough, how you roll it out, and how you bake it. 
So here is what I do!

How to make the dough for Pizza Napoletana:

Traditionally this pizza dough is made by hand using a "madia"  (large wooden rectangular container with raised edges, where dough is kneaded and prepared).
BUT I don't own a madia, and my stand mixer does come really handy, making things easy and fast. So, why not?!? 

Start by dissolving the salt into lukewarm water. 
In the stand mixer bowl add one cup of flour (save the rest for later), all the salted water and the yeast. Mix this very liquidy mixture for about ten minutes.
Add the sugar (which helps activate the yeast), and the rest of the flour and mix with hook attachment for at least 15 minutes. 
If after 5 minutes of mixing the dough looks dry, add a tablespoon of water. If still too wet, add a tablespoon of flour. The dough should feel slightly sticky, with all flour absorbed and side of the bowl clean. No dry crumbs in the bowl. 

Remove the dough, make into a ball. Drizzle the bowl (same mixer bowl or any large one) with the olive oil, place the dough inside, turn on all sides to oil. 

Leave the dough in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

If I plan to make the pizza for dinner, I make the dough early in the morning. It needs lot of time to rest and rise.

How to roll out the dough for Pizza Napoletana:

Move the dough to the counter, divide into four equal parts. You can weight each to make sure they are all the same size. Mine were about 8 oz (225 gr) each.

Knead each ball of dough: flatten it out with your hands, fold in half, turn 90 degrees and fold again. Repeat a few times.
To make each piece of dough into a smooth ball, pinch the sides and tuck under. Repeat a few times. 

VIDEO: How to roll pizza dough

Place each ball onto the counter, place one hand over and cup the dough in your hand. Move your hand in circles on the counter while rolling the pizza dough under.
Place each ball onto the counter or a baking sheet generously covered with regular and semolina flour. Sprinkle with regular flour and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rise for 6 to 8 hours at room temperature. 

To roll the pizza, stretch out the dough with plenty of flour+semolina flour on the counter. Start from the middle, press with your fingers down the center of the dough towards the edges. Move the air from the middle to the outside, while keeping the crust nice and thick. Turn the dough over and repeat. Use your fingers to work the air towards the edges, hold the dough with one hand and stretch outward with your other hand. No touching the edges: we want a thin crust in the middle with thick edges. You should end up with a pizza of about 10inches in diameter. 

How to bake a Neapolitan pizza:

To get this exception rise in the crust, crispy yet light, soft and bubbly, with those charred spots, the pizza should bake at really high temperature in less than 2 minutes. 
I baked this pizza in my wood burning oven at about 800F, in about 90 seconds. 
I have a Ooni Pizza Oven, which I truly love.

It's compact and portable (weights just 12kg) Great to take along a camping trip or a picnic-pizza-party.

This oven takes homemade pizza to the next smoking-HOT level๐Ÿ”ฅ It reaches 950°F (500°C) in less than 20 minutes which is the best way to get that exceptional rise: the soft and bubbly crust & crispy-yet-light pizza, in less than 2 minutes!! 
And yup, even in that short amount of time, the wood burning oven gives that distinct smoky taste to the pizza … just like an authentic Italian pizza should be. Pizza heaven, I’m telling you ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น❤️

  VIDEO: how to make Neapolitan Pizza

Here are some TIPS when cooking your pizza on a fire oven:

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸปFire it up: use natural firestarters together with a few small pieces of wood. Add more fuel gradually and don’t overcrowd.
Make sure to have enough airflow to reach optimum temperatures, and space around the oven. You can always adjust the airflow with the inbuilt chimney vent.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป Check the oven temperature with an infrared thermometer: aim for at least 750°F in the center of the stone before launching a pizza in the oven.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸปHave your best pizza dough ready, divided in buns.

When the oven is ready (only then, NOT before) stretch out the dough with plenty of flour+semolina flour on the counter. Add toppings but keep it light (not too much sauce, not too much mozzarella ... just enough!)

Quickly pick up the pizza with the peel, making sure there’s plenty of semolina flour on the peel so the dough won’t stick. And swiftly launch into the oven.

Don't let the rolled out pizza sit on the counter (it will stick) or on the pizza peel (again - it will stick), and it will be a mess to move it off and into the oven. 

Speed is essential but PLEASE don't stress out - I honestly did the first few times. But after the first or second pizza you will get the hang of it. I promise!
๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป Keep the oven door close when baking. Open and rotate the pizza every 20-30 seconds. It should be ready between 60 and 90 seconds. Top with the rest of your ingredients and devour as fast as you can.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป Don’t forget: top up your fuel and wait a couple of minutes before adding your next pizza…. I’m sure you won’t stop at one.

>PRINTABLE RECIPE: Authentic Neapolitan Pizza Dough 

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