When it comes to pizza, few styles can rival the classic and beloved Pizza Napoletana. Originating from Naples, Italy, this traditional pizza has gained worldwide recognition for its simple yet delicious flavors. In this article, we will explore the history, ingredients, and step-by-step process of making an authentic Pizza Napoletana.

The History of Pizza Napoletana

Pizza Napoletana has a rich history that dates back to the 18th century in Naples, Italy. It was initially a street food enjoyed by the working class, but its popularity quickly spread throughout the city and beyond. In 1889, the famous Margherita pizza was created in honor of Queen Margherita of Italy, featuring the colors of the Italian flag: red tomatoes, white mozzarella cheese, and green basil leaves.

Today, Pizza Napoletana is protected by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN), an organization that ensures the authenticity and quality of Neapolitan pizza. According to their guidelines, a true Pizza Napoletana must be made with specific ingredients and cooked in a wood-fired oven at a high temperature.

The Ingredients

One of the key factors that sets Pizza Napoletana apart is the quality of its ingredients. Let’s take a closer look at the essential components:

1. Tipo 00 Flour

The dough for Pizza Napoletana is made with Tipo 00 flour, a finely ground flour that is low in protein. This type of flour creates a soft and elastic dough, resulting in a light and airy crust.

2. San Marzano Tomatoes

The sauce for Pizza Napoletana is made with San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown in the volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius. These tomatoes have a rich and sweet flavor, making them perfect for pizza sauce.

3. Mozzarella di Bufala

Authentic Pizza Napoletana uses Mozzarella di Bufala, a type of mozzarella cheese made from the milk of water buffaloes. This cheese has a creamy texture and a slightly tangy taste, adding a unique flavor to the pizza.

4. Fresh Basil

Basil is a crucial ingredient in Pizza Napoletana, providing a fresh and aromatic element to the pizza. It is typically added as a topping after the pizza is cooked.

The Process

Now that we have covered the ingredients, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making an authentic Pizza Napoletana:

1. Prepare the Dough

To make the dough, combine Tipo 00 flour, water, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. Let it rest for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to develop.

2. Shape the Dough

After the dough has rested, take it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Divide the dough into individual portions and shape them into balls. Cover the dough balls with a damp cloth and let them rise for another 2 hours.

3. Prepare the Sauce

In a bowl, crush San Marzano tomatoes using your hands or a fork. Add a pinch of salt and mix well. Let the sauce sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

4. Preheat the Oven

Preheat a wood-fired oven to a temperature of around 800°F (427°C). The high heat is essential for achieving the characteristic charred and blistered crust of Pizza Napoletana.

5. Stretch the Dough

Take one dough ball and gently stretch it into a round shape using your hands. Be careful not to press too hard, as you want to maintain the air bubbles in the dough.

6. Add the Toppings

Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce onto the stretched dough, leaving a border around the edges. Tear pieces of Mozzarella di Bufala and distribute them evenly over the sauce. Finally, sprinkle some fresh basil leaves on top.

7. Bake the Pizza

Transfer the topped pizza onto a pizza peel dusted with flour or semolina. Carefully slide it into the preheated oven and bake for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted.

8. Serve and Enjoy

Remove the pizza from the oven and let it cool for a minute. Cut it into slices and serve it hot. The combination of the crispy crust, flavorful sauce, and creamy cheese will surely delight your taste buds.

Q&A

1. Can I use regular flour instead of Tipo 00 flour?

While regular flour can be used as a substitute, Tipo 00 flour is highly recommended for its unique texture and flavor. It creates a lighter and more delicate crust, which is a defining characteristic of Pizza Napoletana.

2. Can I use canned tomatoes instead of San Marzano tomatoes?

While San Marzano tomatoes are the traditional choice, you can use canned tomatoes as a substitute. Look for high-quality canned tomatoes with no added preservatives or flavors for the best results.

3. Do I need a wood-fired oven to make Pizza Napoletana?

While a wood-fired oven is ideal for achieving the authentic taste and texture of Pizza Napoletana, you can still make a delicious pizza using a conventional oven. Simply preheat your oven to the highest temperature possible and use a pizza stone or baking steel to mimic the intense heat of a wood-fired oven.

4. Can I add additional toppings to Pizza Napoletana?

According to the AVPN guidelines, Pizza Napoletana should only be topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. However, feel free to experiment with additional toppings if you prefer a more personalized pizza.

5. How can I achieve a charred crust without a wood-fired oven?

If you’re using a conventional oven, you can still achieve a slightly charred crust by preheating your oven to the highest temperature and using a pizza stone or baking steel. These tools help to distribute heat evenly and create a crispier crust.

Summary

Pizza Napoletana is a culinary masterpiece that has captured the hearts and taste buds of pizza lovers worldwide. Its simple yet flavorful combination of ingredients, along with the traditional wood-fired cooking

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