Neapolitan Pizza Recipe
- posted April 6, 2020
With the coronavirus lockdown in full swing, it’s times like this that those with a garden can be truly thankful. No matter how small, that little patch of grass has suddenly become our own little Hyde Park. And with days getting longer, we can finally get out there and enjoy them, perhaps with a bite to eat.
Whilst a barbecue is the obvious choice for alfresco dining, a couple of years ago I invested in a pizza oven and it’s proved a worthy alternative. I’m a sucker for authentic, Neapolitan-style pizza, and although it’ll take a lifetime to properly master, with a bit of practice you can still turn out delicious, restaurant-worthy pizza.
They may take my freedom, but they’ll never take MY PIZZA!
The secret to good pizza is down to two things – the heat of the oven and the quality of the dough. Firstly, in order to get those charred edges and fluffy crust, you need a hot oven. A very hot oven. Around 400-500 degrees Celsius is ideal and sadly you won’t be able to get the same results from your kitchen cooker which maxes out around 250. Secondly, the dough needs to be formulated and worked to just the right level. To help with this I thoroughly recommend the PizzApp app which allows you to tweak different variables (such as proving duration and temperature) to create the perfect ratio of flour, water, yeast and salt – the only 4 ingredients in proper Neapolitan pizza.
Whilst the best dough is generally made 24-48 hours in advance, I’m rarely that organised and you can still make decent same-day dough. The below recipe does just that and if you have any left over, you can leave it to continue proving and eat later in the week, or freeze it for longer.
Makes 8 pizzas (220g each)
For the dough:
A 5-hour prove with 58% hydration (water ratio) – the PizzApp app can help if you have more or less time to play with.
- 1100g ’00’ Flour
- 650ml Warm Water
- 33g Salt
- 3.85g Instant Dried Yeast
For the classic margherita topping:
- Fresh Basil
- Olive Oil
- ….or whatever you like.
Combine the flour and salt and tip into a large bowl, making a well in the centre.
Mix the yeast and water and stir until fully dissolved. Add this to the flour and salt.
Work the mixture together and kneed for 10 to 15 minutes, just as you would with bread dough. You can use a stand mixer with a bread hook to do this (but this is quality lockdown exercise).
You should now have something roughly resembling the above. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, then return and kneed for a further 10 seconds.
Divide the dough into 8 equally sized dough balls – roughly 220g each. You can use scales if you want to be precise. For best results, shape the ball by tucking in the edges beneath itself.
Place on a lightly floured surface and cover with cling film to stop them drying out. Leave to prove at room temperature for 5 hours.
You should find your dough balls have now grown and air bubbles have begun to form. The longer you leave them, the bigger they’ll grow and the better they’ll taste.
Now is the time you’ll want to fire up your pizza oven. I use an Ooni 3 which is fuelled by wood pellets. It’s a great little piece of kit and takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the necessary temperature.
The next step is to mould the dough balls into something resembling a round pizza base. Flatten the dough on a lightly floured surface and use the tips of your fingers to create a circular shape. Then, pick it up and with both hands gradually move around the outer edge stretching slightly. The dough should gradually thin out and grow in size. Don’t worry if they’re not perfect circles.
HOT TIP: Ideally you want to create the base by hand as a rolling pin can push air out of the dough and stop the crusts rising.
Once you’ve created the base, you’ll now need to transfer it onto a pizza peel ready to add your topping.
HOT TIP: To stop the dough sticking, I highly recommend sprinkling a little semolina onto the peel first. This is preferable to flour as flour will stick to your base and burn in the high temperatures, creating an unpleasant, bitter taste.
Add your toppings. If you’re going with a Margherita, add the passata first, then the mozzarella, followed by the basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Season.
Now it’s time to cook. Ensure your oven is up to temperature – I use a handy infrared thermometer to get it just right – then slide your pizza onto the pizza stone. It might take a bit of practice to get the technique right.
Your pizza is now cooking. Keep an eye on it – after about 20 to 30 seconds you’ll need slide your peel in there and give your pizza a 180 degree turn – again, it takes a bit of practice. Another 30 seconds and your pizza is probably done.
Et voila! Pizza cooked and ready to eat – proper fast food.
Same again tomorrow, yeah?
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