For our tenth #DolceVitaBloggers link up this September 2018, we are talking all about food and sharing our favorite Italian recipes!
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s likely everyone who adores Italy loves food too! And it’s equally likely that it’s impossible to choose ONE favorite recipe…but if I have to choose the most special recipe, pizza Margherita is it. Not just any Margherita, but a Verace Pizza Napoletana. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Verace and Pizza Napoletana might be a little redundant because Pizza Napoletana is the true, original pizza, the Verace. That’s how I order it at my favorite pizzeria in Italy (in Northern Italy to boot). Simply una Verace. (Ok, ok, I’m a little more glutonous than that…I can’t help but order the Margherita with lardo di colonnata around the crust (pictured below)….it’s actually Alberto (amore mio) who always gets the Verace. I just can’t help smothering my palate in utter decadence while I can because a delicacy of this caliber is simply unmatched in the U.S….). If lard sounds off-putting, I urge you to try lardo di colonnata at least once…it’s not heavy and greasy at all, but melt-in-your mouth delicate. Alberto and I took Jasmine and her husband to our favorite pizzeria after a fabulous day at the beach in Jesolo this July, so I think she’ll attest to the scrumptiousness of this glorious disc of dough, cheese, and tomato sauce. 😉
So why is a pizza so special to me?
I do have Italian heritage, but not from Napoli or Campania. So I have no secret family pizza recipe. However, pizza has always been my favorite food, but I never realized that it would lead me to love. That’s how my love story began, with a pizza recipe. Alberto & I both love to cook (and eat, of course), so that’s how we first bonded, helping each other learn our languages by sharing recipes, starting with pizza. Over two years ago when we met, my family had just returned from a trip to Italy and had purchased a pizza oven because we were so smitten with Italian pizza. This pizza you see above is my alpha and omega, the beginning and ending of every Italy trip, and so naturally, I want to try to recreate it for my #DolceVitaBloggers favorite recipe because of its sentimental value.
First, a word on the types of pizza in Italy….
Types of Pizza in Italy
Believe it or not, there is not just one kind of pizza in Italy. Just in the States we have our Chicago deep dish and New York thin crust, you can find different styles of pizza throughout Italy:
- Napoli: with a raised crust, yet thing & elastic enough to be foldable, with cloud-like dough that ethereally melts in your mouth (can you tell I’m in love ahaha)
- Roma: pizza al taglio, thin, crispy, and sold by the slice
- Sicilia: Sfincione palermitano, a thick sheet pan pizza
I’m sure there are more…let me know in the comments!
The point is, I’m in luuuuuuuurve with pizza of all shapes and sizes, homemade or delivery, but pizza Napoletana is THE PIZZA I pine for, and the one I was aiming to recreate in this post. HOWEVER, being American and all, I had to make a few adaptations.
What is pizza Napoletana?
First a word on pizza Napoletana. Can I express how much I love that a Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana exists? That right there makes this my soul pizza. Sign me up for that club! I love that in Italy things like roads that should have strict rules to adhere to are a big pile of spaghetti, but pizza has legit rules. So if you want to make pizza Napoletana, you best be following these instructions. Which I have to say, I am totally in favor of rules for pizza because let’s be honest…we could use some dough standardization in the States. Some of what passes for “pizza” is straight up cardboard made out of a chemistry experiment. And I won’t even get the Italians Mad at Food going about pineapple on pizza. 😆 For the record, I am totally okay with whatever toppings you love on your pizza, it just cracks me up how passionate Italians get about no pineapple on pizza!
Of course, being an American and knowing that everyone might not have a scale, I converted the recipe to U.S. measurements. (And if you’re wondering why the U.S. is crazy enough not to use the metric system like the rest of the world…this video explains it all. Basically we are super OLD SCHOOL and still stuck in the ways of the 18th century British Empire, ha!).
The second modification I made, serendipitously, is using Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast, partly because that’s what I had available, and also because the fresh stuff in the original recipe is nowhere to be found in my town.
Fresh active yeast (the kind that comes in a block and must be refrigerated) is hard to come by in the U.S. In fact, I didn’t even know fresh yeast was a real thing! Where I live it only comes dried in tiny little packets. No wonder, because big brands like Fleischmann’s and Red Star apparently have limited markets for fresh yeast aka cake yeast (so if you’re in the Midwest or Northeastern U.S. you’re in luck, I’m still living in the Wild West, apparently!).
And so it was destined to be a “rapid rise” version of the original pizza Napoletana recipe, cutting down the original time of 8+ hours down to 2ish. Way for me to be American! 😀 This recipe is for when you want homemade pizza dough, but you don’t have a whole day to make it, which let’s be honest, unfortunately is most days of the week.
Anyhow, this long explanation was to say, my favorite recipe is pizza Napoletana, but I don’t have a Ferarra wood-burning oven at home (not yet anyways!) or access to the traditional ingredients (which must all be from the Campania region to be a true Neapolitan pizza), so this is my adaptation, with all due respect to the honorable pizza Napoletana.
True Neapolitana Pizza: Ingredients, preparation, cooking (in English, with the option to read in Italian too)
How to make the dough (video in Italian): Have fun making pizza while practicing your Italian!
There are so many ways to make a pizza at home with the equipment that you have, but this is what I personally used.
*These are all items that I use and love. If you’re in the market for one of these items, thank you for supporting my blog by using my affiliate links!
Italian Word of the Day:
Lievito di birra, which apparently is quite difficult to translate precisely into English! Who knew there were SO many types of yeast! You’ll want to read the directions on your yeast package to make sure you have crossed all your i’s and dotted all your t’s as they all behave a little differently in recipes. However, for the recipe I now present to you, we are using RapidRise yeast! Rise baby rise! That flavor was still amazing, the only thing that was compromised was a little elasticity with the dough. It still stretches out like a dream, but it’s a little crispier than true pizza Napoletana. But if I can make homemade dough in around two hours, that’s okay! I’m really pleased with the results.
This pizza dough is inspired by the Neapolitan tradition, using just 00 flour, salt, yeast, and water. Rapid rise yeast allows you to skip the first rising, so your dough can go straight for the pizza oven in 2 hours or less, without compromising flavor.
- 3/4 tsp instant yeast (.5 grams)
- 2 cups warm water (120 degrees) (500 ml)
- 3 1/2 tsp sea salt (25 grams)
- 6 3/4 cups 00 flour (850 grams)
- 1/4 cup Tomato sauce (per pizza)
- Garlic powder to taste
- Grated Pargmigiano Reggiano to taste
- Pinch of salt (if needed)
- Fresh mozzarella
- Dried oregano (Optional, to taste)
- a few leaves of basil to garnish the pizza
- a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (if desired)
Add the salt to warm water and mix with a stand mixer with a dough attachment until the salt dissolves. Add a little flour by the spoonful, mix on low, and then add the yeast. Continue to add the flour by spoonfuls until everything is mixed together.
Let the dough mix for about 20 minutes, until it forms a ball and none is sticking to the sides of the bowl.
On a floured surface, divid the dough into 6 balls (approx 180-200 grams each, or you can eyeball it). To make the balls smooth, roll your hands over and under the dough to form a circle, and wiggle it on a flat surface to smooth the bottom (see recommended videos).
Place the balls in an airtight container with adequate room around each ball (they will spread out during rising).l Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled (approximately 2 hours, or longer if desired).
This is a quick and easy non-recipe sauce, just add ingredients intuitively. I find that good quality Italian passata (tomato sauce) doesn't need much. I usually use approximately 1/4 cup tomato sauce per pizza. I like to add a pinch of salt, a little garlic powder (I usually don't measure, but around 1 tsp) and a hit of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Turn on your pizza oven on high (approx 500 F/260 C) about 20 minutes before cooking to heat it up.
Stretch out the dough into a circle on a pizza peel that is adequately floured. The dough should be very elastic and shouldn't break. Flatten the ball of dough into a circle with your fingers. Then, place your fists in the center of the circle, hold up the dough, and carefully stretch out the dough. Pro pizza makers can spin it all around, but just focus on stretching it out into a circle the size of the pizza peel however you can. (Using a rolling pin is a no no according to pizza Napoletana rules, but your tastebuds will never know). Make sure to adequately flour under the pizza so that it can slip right off the peel into the oven, or you might end up with a calzone.
Add whichever toppings you desire, or just sliced fresh mozzarella if you want to make a Margherita. DON'T ADD THE BASIL UNTIL YOU PULL THE PIZZA OUT OF THE OVEN. Heat is bad for basil, very bad. It will turn black. You can, however, add a sprinkle of oregano, if you wish (some people put it on in cottura, while cooking, or you can add it after, up to you!).
Cook the pizza in a very hot oven, around 500 F/ 260 C degrees. My portable pizza oven (see recommended equipment in recipe notes) can reach up to 900 F / 482 C degrees. I just turn my pizza oven on high and cook it at that temperature. The pizza will cook in 2-5 minutes, so watch it carefully and turn it once with the pizza spatula to make sure it cooks evenly.
Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if desired (Italians actually do this! Italian pizza isn't greasy like American, you can actually ADD oil!), and add a few basil leaves for garnish.
Put the extra dough in a freezer bag and thaw the night before you want to use it!
- You can freeze extra dough in 180-200g balls in a
- Make sure to use a high quality tomato sauce, such as Mutti, which you can find on Amazon or at World Market.
- I buy my 00 flour from Whole Foods, which is Antimo Caputo (from Napoli) in the red bag. Although the blue bag is supposedly for pizza making, and is available on Amazon.
- Check out a video of the dough making process (in Italian).
- This recipe uses Rapid Rise yeast, which requires no proofing and only one rise
- Fleischmann's RapidRise Yeast
- Mutti passata (tomato sauce)
- Antimo Caputo 00 flour
- Oregano from Southern Italy
Recommended Video (in Italian):
La Dolce Vita through from California to Italy. I’m Kelly, an American girl with Italian taste in food & wine. I blog about learning Italian, food & wine pairings, how to find authentic Italian ingredients in the US, and seasonal recipes from scratch.