Neapolitan pizza has a reputation for being one of the best kinds of pizza you’ll find in the world, especially if you get it from Naples, its hometown. The best neapolitan pizzas are made from the freshest dough, the finest mozzarella and organic basil leaves, but that first ingredient is crucial.
Can you make a Neapolitan pizza at home? Yes, you can make a Neapolitan pizza at home. All you need is a pizza stone or steel, a pizza peel, and some high-quality ingredients. The most important thing to remember when making a Neapolitan pizza is that the dough should be thin and the cook time should be short – around 60-90 seconds in a very hot oven. This will result in a delicious, crispy crust with slightly charred edges.
But with ingredients so sparse, the dough must be first fermented with care. During the fermentation process, gluten forms naturally.
Fermenting the dough also allows the starches to break down into simple sugars, bringing out flavorful by-products and getting the dough to rise brilliantly.
It’s not as complex as it may sound, and I’ll walk you through the steps in the following guide.
Can You Make a Neapolitan Pizza at Home?
To begin making the dough, first gather ingredients. You’ll need:
- 4 cups (20 oz) of bread flour (Use 00 Flour)
- 4 teaspoons (.4 oz) of kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons (.3 oz) instant yeast
- 13 oz of water
First, combine the salt, yeast and flour in a large bowl and mix with a whisk. If you want to be more precise, you can measure out the ingredients with a scale (this is why I laid out the measurements two ways).
This allows more accuracy, but you’ll actually need two scales – one to measure within a gram of accuracy, and one less than a gram.
Continue until they’re well mixed, then add the water. You’ll want to use your hands to mix it in until there’s no dry spot left on the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise. This should take roughly 8 to 12 hours.
Take the dough out of the bowl and set it on the flat counter or cutting board. Be sure to sprinkle some flour on the area where the dough will sit first.
Divide it into four even balls. Take each ball and place it inside a plastic container or ziplock bag. Put the bags in the fridge for two days to let the bread further rise.
Take the dough out of the fridge (you can leave it in for as long as four days). Let it sit at room temperature for two hours before baking.
Baking In The Oven
You’re going to want to get your oven as hot as possible. As the dough balls are resting outside the fridge, put your pizza stone or steel on the lowest rack in the oven and turn the temperature up to 550 degrees.
Preheat while you gather your toppings. About ten minutes before you’re ready to put the pizza in, switch the heat to high broil.
Neapolitan pizza should only take about six minutes at this temperature.
But it’s important you watch it closely. At temperatures this high, going from delightfully crispy and crunchy to flat out burnt takes a matter of seconds.
For Pizza Ovens
Pizza ovens are especially convenient for times such as these.
If you have one, preheat it for a half-hour before cooking. Aim for the stone temperature to be around 800 or 900 degrees. Here is a list of the best pizza ovens if you’re looking for one.
It’s important, more so than in a regular oven, that the dough is not stretched too thin. Tears in the dough will burn in less than a minute.
Now that you’ve perfected the dough, it’s time to choose the ingredients that lend it an authentic flavour that might call you back to the streets of Naples.
Neapolitan pizzas are mostly known for their dough, raw tomatoes, mozzarella (Galbani) and fresh basil. However, you’re not limited to these choices.
The trick with neapolitans, however, is not to overdress them. The crust is meant to handle simple ingredients.
And while you can add what you like without changing the basic flavour too much, you don’t want to overwhelm the taste of the crust.
The general rule is to think about how many and which toppings you want, then opt to dress with one less than originally planned.
This is known as the Coco Chanel approach to dressing a pizza.
The depth of flavour the dough offers is often more than enough, and distracting from it is not your goal.
Still, there’s something to be said for personal creativity. You can even use ingredients not native to Italy without ruining the flavour, such as Viennese Sausage.
That’s the joy of a neapolitan pizza. The dough is tangy, not just a drab canvas for you to decorate with an inventive palate. The canvas is the entire attraction.