“La pizza napoletana è una pizza da amare.” (“Neapolitan pizza is a pizza to cherish”). That’s the sentence I remember most vividly from my conversation with Peppe Miele, the president of VPN Americas, the Los Angeles-based official delegation for the Americas of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, a non-profit organization founded in Naples in 1984 to safeguard the tradition and promote the culinary art of authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Miele was making the point that pizza napoletana is not fast food, nor is it pizza to eat by the slice and on the go. It is a pizza to be savored slowly.
Are you a fan of Neapolitan pizza and want to make it at home? VPN Americas shared with us the steps to take to make good homemade pizza napoletana using a conventional oven. Always keep in mind that the taste and texture of homemade Neapolitan pizza will never be the same as Neapolitan pizza cooked in a wood-fire oven (and eaten in a Naples pizzeria of course).
How to Make Neapolitan Pizza at Home (Courtesy of VPN Americas)
Recipe for the dough: 1 kg. of flour type “00”, 0.6 liters of water, 1 gr. of fresh yeast, 28 gr. of sea salt.
– In a small bowl dissolve the yeast with water and let it rest for 5 minutes. Pour the rest of the water into a large bowl, add the salt and stir until it has been totally dissolved. Pour 10% of the flour in the bowl and mix until you obtain a smooth paste. Add the water-yeast solution and gradually the rest of the flour, taking care to work the mixture with your hands until it reaches the right consistency. Continue to work the mixture vigorously in order to make it homogeneous and without lumps.
– As soon as the dough becomes smooth and elastic, transfer it in a closed container (consider that, because of the rising, the dough will double its initial volume), cover it and let it rest in a warm place for the whole period of the fermentation (about 8 hours). The longer the leavening time, the softer and more digestible the pizza will be.
– At this point, begin forming the balls, which must have a weight of about 220 gr. each. The rest of the dough, if covered, can be kept for another couple of days.
– The dough must be opened without a rolling pin, working it with your hands in order to create an approximately 30 cm diameter disc, taking care not to squeeze it to prevent losing the gas arisen during fermentation.
– Start adding the ingredients beginning with the tomato sauce, the mozzarella, the toppings, and the olive oil.
– To better cook the pizza, the temperature of the oven (preferably conventional type) must be very high (450-500° F). One trick to make a perfect pizza is to use a baking stone, to be inserted into the oven at the maximum temperature for about half an hour in order to facilitate the cooking of the bottom of the pizza.
– Cooking time must be around 3 minutes (a little more for a static oven).