Homemade Neapolitan Pizza
I won’t lie to you. Making pizza at home hasn’t been a straight journey. But, trust me, once you’ve made your own pizza you will never want to go back to ordering one.
Equipment is key in this recipe. I’ve spent endless hours researching and watching literally hundreds of videos on YouTube. I have tried all the hacks. Upside down trays as pizza stones and chopping boards as pizza peels, you name it.
Let me summarise this experience in a sentence: It’s just not worth it! Buy a pizza stone (or some fire bricks) and a pizza peel. I’ve damaged, undercooked and thrown away too many pizzas, just because I thought it can be done without the equipment.
If you are impatient, then this is not the recipe for you. Proper Neapolitan pizza needs time and love, but trust me – it is worth it.
By the way, technically, I’m not allowed to call this pizza Neapolitan. This is because the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), the ultimate authority when it comes to Neapolitan pizza, dictates that: “The cooking must be done exclusively in a wood-fired oven, which has reached a temperature between 430-480C°.”
I’m expecting the pizza police to knock on my door!
Homemade Neapolitan Pizza
Tasty pizza at home
- Pizza stone
- Pizza Peel
- 500 g Tipo 00 flour
- 320 ml mineral water
- 10 g fine salt
- 5 g dried active yeast (or 1g of fresh yeast)
- 1/2 can San Marzano plum tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- Parmigianno Reggiano
- Fresh Basil leaves
- 180 g Mozzarella di buffala
- dried oregano
- 100 g Fine semolina
- You can prepare the dough in the morning to bake the pizzas for dinner or you can prepare it the day before and leave it in the fridge for the next day.
Preparing the dough
- In a large bowl add 320ml of mineral water. I generally use mineral water for consistency when baking, but feel free to use tap water.
- Add in the yeast and mix until it's almost incorporated.
- Leave for 5 mins for the yeast to be activated.
- Start adding in the flour gradually and mix with the handle of a wooden spoon.
- Mix until the dough becomes uniform.
- Cover with a dump cloth and leave for 15 mins.
- Add the salt on the dough, wet your hands and start mixing the dough in order for the salt to be incorporated.
- In Naples, they would dilute the salt in the water. I've also seen recipes where they mix the salt with the flour. However, I've read that yeast does not really like salt, so this is my way of giving the yeast some space. This method is similar to what they do when they make sourdough bread.
- Knead for at least 20 minutes by hand or 10 mins in stand mixer using the hook, until the dough becomes elastic and smooth.
- TIP: Kneading is extremely important as it activates the gluten. If the dough is not kneaded enough it will become sticky and will break when stretching.
- Once you are done kneading, put the dough in the bowl and cover with a dump cloth.
- Wait for about an hour or until the dough doubles in size. This will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. I've had doughs rise in 20 mins.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and shape into pizza balls. We need to lock some air into the balls so we can create nice little air pockets.
- Put the balls in 4 containers or 1 large container. I use separate containers to avoid the dough balls sticking to each other. Make sure you give the dough enough space, as it is going to expand.
- At this stage the dough balls should need about 6 hours to proof. However, this depends on the temperature of the room.
- TIP: If you see the dough rising too fast, put it in your fridge and take out about 1,5 hour before you want to bake the pizzas.
- Experts say that the slower the fermentation, the better the taste.
- If you are preparing your day the day before, then the dough balls can go straight into the fridge, but make sure you take them out out 1,5 hour before you start shaping your pizzas.
Baking the pizzas
- Add the pizza stone in the oven and turn the temperature to as high as it can go.
- If you don't have a pizza stone, do yourself a favour and buy one. I've had way too many accidents using upside down trays and other hacks I've seen online.
- Preheat for at least 1 hour. The oven needs to be super hot for the pizza to cook properly. fyi: Traditional Neapolitan pizzas are cooked in wood ovens at a temperature of 450˚c.
- Once your oven is ready, start shaping your dough.
- Make sure you dust your dough with fine semolina to prevent it from sticking.
- If you want to go advanced and have a laugh, here is Alex trying to master the traditional shaping method.
- I bake my pizzas in two stages.
- First I cook the base for 2 minutes, without any toppings.
- I then take it out, add my toppings and bake for another 2-3 minutes.
- With this process the crust is properly cooked without overcooking my toppings.
- TIP: Don't be tempted to add too many toppings. Less is more. If you are making pizza for the first time, whatever you think you need to add, add half of it.