Although there is an infinite number of types of pizza in the world, the most classic is the Neapolitan Pizza, from Naples, Italy, whose history can be read in our article on the history of pizza. The pizza Margherita is the most famous of the Neapolitan pizzas and has a curious origin.
Legend has it that the Margherita pizza was created in Naples on an occasion when the Queen consort Margherita of Savoy was visiting. To honour her, a pizza maker from Naples made a pizza in the colours of Italy. He used tomato for red, mozzarella for white and basil for the green colour of the Italian flag.
This recipe is divided into two parts:
First, we explain the procedure to make a dough for 10 Neapolitan pizzas
and then the recipe for a Margherita pizza (click on the link to go directly there).
Dough recipe for 10 Neapolitan pizzas of 30-35 cm diameter
This recipe is based on the discipline of The Association of Neapolitan Pizza Makers (L’Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani).
- Preparation: 30 min.
- Cooking time: 90 seconds
- Difficulty: Medium/low
The reference unit is 1 litre of water, from which the proportions of all other ingredients derive.
Therefore for 1 litre of water:
- 1 litre of water
- 50 – 55 gr of salt.
- 4 g fresh brewer’s yeast (1 g is sufficient for dry yeast, but should not be used in the original recipe)
- 1.7/1.8 kg of flour type 000
How should the ingredients be?
- Water: There are no particular restrictions, you can use tap water, the temperature must be in the range of 20-22 degrees Celsius and the pH value must be 6 or 7. Of course, we are talking about still, clean water, without substances or microorganisms harmful to humans.
- Flour: The flour must be soft wheat 000 medium strength, with a value between W 280 and W 320. The strength of the flour is determined by a number of properties such as the degree of water absorption and the amount of protein. Strength flours absorb more water, so the more strength the flour has, the less quantity is needed to achieve the desired effect.
- Yeast: Fresh brewer’s yeast or dry/compressed yeast can be used. Depending on the season, you will use less yeast in summer and more yeast in winter
- Salt: Table salt.
Pour all the water and salt into a bowl or the container of a kneading machine (for those who have one), stirring so that it dissolves well, to facilitate the maturing of the dough.
Once this is done, add a small amount of flour (about 10% or a spoon) and finally the yeast. Start spinning with a spoon (use the slowest speed with the dough mixer) until the yeast has dissolved.
Then gradually pour in the rest of the flour, and always knead with the ladle so that it is completely absorbed by the water. This process should not take longer than 10 minutes.
With the automatic kneader, continue to work the dough again at minimum speed for another 20 minutes or so, while for the others it is time to use their hands, as the ladle can no longer be used.
Note: For kneading, the use of hands or a double speed kneader with arms or dipping fork is allowed. The automatic kneader allows for better aeration of the dough, but also for greater overheating of the dough, with the consequent risk of disintegration of the gluten.
With the left hand we keep the bowl firm (it is always better to keep one hand clean, in case we need to add other ingredients) and with the right hand we start kneading.
The movement should be circular, take the dough from below, lift it, bring it back and crush it firmly with the palm down.
Continue with this movement until all the flour has been absorbed, and the dough has come off the walls of the bowl (in the jargon it is said to be strung).
Prepare a floured pastry board and transfer the dough, continuing to knead with both hands this time, for at least fifteen minutes. The movement should be the same as the one used in the bowl but made with two hands, never tear the dough because it would ruin the already formed gluten net.
We knead until it acquires a soft and elastic consistency. The dough should be moist to the touch, but at the same time, it should not stick to the hands. If the fingers are slightly dipped in the dough and the holes are slowly recomposed, then the dough is ready.
Cover it with a damp cloth and place it in a draught-free location (the air dries the dough forming a surface crust) and, if possible, at a temperature between 24 and 27 degrees Celsius.
Note: Given the small amount of yeast used, it takes about 2 hours before the dough is well leavened.
Once the dough has doubled in size, we can move on to the next phase, which consists of “compacting our dough, working with both hands as if we had to knead it again, only this time you will have to be more delicate, as you will only have to give it the classic “bread wheel” shape.
Now we can start forming the “panetti” (or “balls”), this phase is called “staglio”, the specification of the Neapolitan pizza says that the weight of one of them can vary from 180 to 250 grams (depending on the diameter of the pizza disk we want to get, on average 30-35 cm).
Weigh each piece of dough that we extract from the dough and form our dough by rolling it up in our hands, and close it at the base, place it in a container, which must be covered for the next leavening phase.
The next phase is the ”appretto”: the buns must be leavened for at least another 4 hours which can be as long as 6 hours in the coldest periods of the winter. In the end, this dough can be used for the next 6 hours.
Final shaping of the pizza
On a uniform surface covered with a veil of flour, use the fingers of both hands, with a movement that gives the idea of pushing the air contained in the dough towards the edges, pressing and turning it several times.
Note: the central part should not be more than half a centimetre thick, while the edge should be between 1 and 2 cm high.
Remember that the original recipe does not allow the use of any tools at this stage, such as rollers or the disc pressing machine.
Preparation of the Margherita Pizza
Ingredients for a Margherita pizza with a diameter of 30-35 cm.
- tomato puree 500 ml
- Buffalo mozzarella or Fior di latte 600 gr.
- 4/5 Basil leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil q.b.
- Salt q.b.
- 1 pizza dough
- To start, pour the tomato puree into a bowl and season with 2 teaspoons of oil and a little salt.
- Spread the pizza dough with the tomato puree, then the coarsely chopped mozzarella, three basil leaves and finally a dash of oil. You will have to add it with a rather quick movement, made in a spiral, starting from the centre of the disk.
- Cooking: A Neapolitan DOC pizza should be cooked in a wood-fired oven for 60-90 seconds at a temperature of 485 degrees centigrade.
- Although the Neapolitan tradition does not (obviously) provide for the use of electric ovens if an electric oven is used a temperature of 250 degrees should be set.
- If you use an electric oven before seasoning the pizza, place the base on a baking tray greased with a little oil so that it does not stick.
4. In a normal or electric oven, bake the pizza for about 10 minutes.
The pizza is cooked when the edge and the middle acquire the typical leopard spot pigmentation, the real Neapolitan pizza never has a uniform colour. If this happens it is a sign of low oven temperature and/or a poor ripening/leavening of the dough.
It is important to rotate the pizza during baking, to avoid burnt areas.
- Once the Margherita pizza is cooked, take it out and serve it immediately.