Saturday, May 3, 2014

Basic Neapolitan Style Pizza

Basic Neapolitan Style Pizza 
makes 1  14-inch pizza
Brandi di Vincenzo Pagnani in Naples, Italy is the birthplace of the modern pizza and in my view still the home of the best pizza in the world.  The secret to their pizza is a simple, very lean dough made of the fewest ingredients possible, a very simple uncooked “sauce” consisting of only five ingredients, and fresh creamy mozzarella (buffalo is best but hard to get in America) baked at very high heat (their ovens run in excess of 900° F.).  While in our home ovens we won’t be able to match those temperatures, if you follow the instructions here you’ll be able to produce a “pie” that comes close to their world famous product.
                                                                                 Prep time:  1 hour 45 minutes
                                                                                 Bake time:  11 minutes
                                                                                 Total time:  1 hour 56 minutes


4 to 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into large chunks

Basic Neapolitan Style Pizza Dough:

8.76 ounces bread flour, plus additional for the work surface                
6 ounces warm water (105° F)
.13 ounces yeast
.17 ounces salt                                   
 *to make more than one pizza the bakers ratio is: flour=100%, water=70%, yeast=1.5%, salt=2%

Neapolitan Style Pizza Sauce:

8 ounces whole San Marzano canned tomatoes, roughly crushed tomatoes 
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove of fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

Neapolitan style pizza sauce:

In an appropriately sized mixing bowl combine the crushed tomatoes, the olive oil and the chopped garlic. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt, black pepper.  Set aside for about 20 minutes so the flavours can blend.

basic Neapolitan style pizza dough:

 1.  In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the flour, yeast and salt and whisk these ingredients until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Add the warm water and turn on the mixer, fitted with dough hooks, to low.  Continue mixing (kneading) until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and there isn’t any dry flour visible (scrap the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed).  If the dough doesn’t come together, add additional water (1 tablespoon at a time) until it does.

2.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured, flat work surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky (add flour gradually as needed to reach the slightly tacky state), about 5 to 10 minutes.

3.  Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours* (for a more flavourful dough remove the dough from the bowl and place it in a large, resealable plastic bag.  Seal the bag and place it in your refrigerator overnight or up to 4 days.  At least 2 hours before you are going to make the pizza(s), take the dough out of the refrigerator shape into a ball(s) and allow the dough to rest at room temperature).

*note:if you are making multiple pizzas, after the dough has doubled in size divide the dough into equal sized portions for immediate use or place each portion in its own resealable bag for maturing.  

construction and baking the pie:

1.  Place an appropriately sized pizza stone on the top shelf of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 550° F or as high as your oven will go, to attain the highest temperature allow the oven to preheat for 1 hour.

2.  On work surface, place the dough ball (or one of the dough balls) on a flat, floured work surface and flatten into a disk then with your fingertips and palms, press it into a thinner disk of dough approximately 14-inches round and about 1/8-inch or less thick (if necessary use a rolling pin to achieve the 1/8-inch thickness), don’t worry if the pizza isn’t perfectly round . . . that’s called “rustica” and it’s the way “real” Italian pizza looks in Italy.  Sprinkle flour over the surface of this thin disk (this will become the bottom of the pie when you place the disk on the peel in the next instruction and will produce the slightly charred bottom crust Neapolitan pies are noted for).

3.  Distribute some flour over the surface of a pizza peel (this will act as “ball bearings” and allow the dough round pie base to move easily over the surface of the peel) and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel, the floured side down.  Shake the peel to insure pizza moves freely.  Lightly spread about 4 to 5 ounces of the pizza “sauce” on top of the base (depending how "wet" you like your pie) leaving about 1-inch of uncoated dough around the edge to form the crust. 

4.  Distribute 4 to 5-ounces of the mozzarella haphazardly over the sauce and finally drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil over the surface.

5.  Gently shake the peel to insure the pizza moves freely (if it doesn’t gently lift the edge that is sticking distribute additional flour until it does).  Using the peel slide the pizza onto the stone and bake the pizza until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the bottom crust is well browned (a little charring is good!), about 9 minutes depending on how hot your oven is.  After the pie has baked for 9 minutes turn the broiler to high and broil for about 2 minutes until the crust begins to brown around the edges.  Remove from the oven, slice into 8 wedge shaped slices and serve.*

6.  Return the oven to bake at 550° F and repeat, if you are making more than pie, with the remaining dough, pizza sauce, and cheese.

*note: with a little experimentation you’ll be able to identify the point when the edges brown (char) without drying out the mozzarella. 


Kayla t said...

Tried a modified version of this tonight - SO delicious!! We visited Italy in May (2014). We were in Naples for the day and happened to read in "Italy for Dummies" about Brandi. We've been craving their delicious neopalitan pizza ever since!
We visited NYC last week and snagged some buffalo mozzarella at a place called Eataly, as well as a tin of Italian tomato sauce for pizza (I'm not so good with sauce making), and tonight we whipped it up. Thank you for this recipe!! It came out AMAZING!

Lou Sansevero said...

Thanks Kayla I'm glad you enjoyed my recipe, I've spent several years perfecting it so it's good to know that people enjoy it!

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