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Neapolitan pizza

Photo: Freepik

Unlocking the Secrets of Neapolitan Pizza: A Culinary Journey to Naples

Nestled in the heart of Italy, Naples stands as a beacon of culinary excellence, renowned for its vibrant culture and rich gastronomic heritage. Among its many culinary treasures, perhaps none are as beloved and iconic as Neapolitan pizza.

Dating back to the 18th century, Neapolitan pizza has deep roots in the bustling streets and rustic kitchens of Naples. Its origins are humble yet storied, tracing back to the need for a simple, affordable meal that could be enjoyed by the city’s working-class inhabitants. What emerged from this necessity was nothing short of a culinary masterpiece.

At its core, Neapolitan pizza is defined by its simplicity. A thin, tender crust, adorned with just a few carefully selected toppings, allows the quality of the ingredients to shine through. San Marzano tomatoes, grown in the fertile soils of the Campania region, lend a sweet acidity to the sauce, while fresh mozzarella di bufala adds a creamy richness that is unmistakably Neapolitan.

But what truly sets Neapolitan pizza apart is its adherence to tradition and craftsmanship. The dough, made from finely milled Italian flour, undergoes a slow fermentation process, resulting in a light and airy crust with a hint of tangy flavor. Each pizza is then hand-stretched and cooked in a blistering-hot wood-fired oven, where it emerges with a charred, blistered crust and a soft, chewy interior.

Beyond its culinary prowess, Neapolitan pizza holds a special place in the hearts of Neapolitans as a symbol of their city’s heritage and identity. In 2017, UNESCO even recognized the art of Neapolitan pizza making as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, citing its role in fostering social cohesion and preserving traditional knowledge.

Today, the allure of Neapolitan pizza extends far beyond the streets of Naples, captivating food lovers around the globe with its timeless appeal. Whether enjoyed in a bustling pizzeria in Naples or recreated in the comfort of your own kitchen, each bite of Neapolitan pizza is a journey to the heart of Italy, where tradition, flavor, and passion converge.

Neapolitan pizza

Recipe by Lukas Erlebach
Servings

1

servings
Prep time

1

hour 
Cooking time

15

minutes
Calories

259

kcal

Ingredients

  • 500g (4 cups) of all-purpose flour (preferably 00 flour)

  • 325ml (1⅓ cups) of water, lukewarm

  • 10g (2 tsp) of salt

  • 1g (¼ tsp) of fresh yeast or 0.5g (⅛ tsp) of dry yeast

  • Topping
  • 400g (1⅔ cups) of canned San Marzano tomatoes, crushed

  • 200g (7 oz) of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced or torn into small pieces

  • Fresh basil leaves

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt to taste

Directions

  • Prepare the Dough:
  • In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast is activated and bubbles form.
  • Add the flour and salt to the bowl. Mix until the ingredients are combined and a dough forms.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Shape each part into a ball and place them on a floured surface. Cover with a damp cloth and let them rise at room temperature for about 8 hours, or until doubled in size.
  • Prepare the Topping:
  • In a bowl, crush the canned tomatoes by hand or with a spoon. Add a pinch of salt to taste.
    Prepare the mozzarella cheese by slicing or tearing it into small pieces.
  • Shape the Dough:
  • Preheat your oven to the highest temperature possible (typically 250-300°C or 482-572°F). If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven to heat up.
  • On a floured surface, take one dough ball and gently press it down with your fingers to form a disc. Gradually stretch the dough outwards, rotating it as you go, until you achieve a thin, round base with a slightly thicker edge.
  • Assemble the Pizza:
  • Place the stretched dough on a pizza peel or an inverted baking sheet sprinkled with flour or semolina.
  • Spread a thin layer of crushed tomatoes over the base, leaving the edges clear for the crust.
  • Evenly distribute the mozzarella pieces over the tomato sauce.
  • Add a few fresh basil leaves on top.
  • Drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil over the pizza.
  • Bake the Pizza:
  • Slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven.
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
  • Serve:
  • Remove the pizza from the oven and garnish with a few more fresh basil leaves.
  • Slice and serve hot.

Notes

  • Optionally you can add any toppings, like mushrooms, chicken or corn.