Britain is a country obsessed with pizza.
We’d eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if we could — and some people do. It is claimed that across the country, around two million slices of pizza are consumed per day. That’s around 730 million slices a year!
We love all kinds of pizza. Takeaway pizza, shop-bought pizza, restaurant pizza, pizza from a dirty-looking van pizza and, of course, good old homemade pizza.
Being able to make the perfect homemade pizza is like being able to make the perfect chocolate brownies: it’s a personal accolade all amateur cooks strive for. But, making homemade pizza isn’t as easy as you’d think.
Well, making a good homemade pizza isn’t, anyway.
If you’re struggling when crafting your very special homemade pizza, I suggest that success will come from thinking outside the box; following the path less stone-baked.
Introducing your new favourite homemade pizza: The Neapolitan.
Why Make Homemade Neapolitan Pizza?
The Neapolitan is a style of pizza few people know much about, but is perhaps the ultimate homemade pizza experience.
With origins dating back as long as pizza itself, the Neapolitan is the purebred pedigree of the pizza world. Its roots go back over a century, to Naples in Italy, where some of the first pizza-makers to walk this Earth would craft the finest Neapolitans from all natural ingredients.
100 years on and the process of making a Neapolitan hasn’t changed a bit. It still follows the same age-old recipes and the same cooking techniques that have been passed on through the generations.
This all sounds very prestigious and complicated, I know, but a Neapolitan is actually anything but.
A simple pizza using a limited supply of ingredients and straightforward preparation steps, the Neapolitan is the perfect pizza to be making at home. What makes the pizza such an amazing homemade speciality, though, is the specific cooking techniques and ingredients that go into it.
Not only is a Neapolitan pizza easy to make, but if you follow the rules to a true Neapolitan pizza, it can be nothing but absolutely delicious.
Steps to Making the Perfect Homemade Neapolitan Pizza
You may have noticed that making a true Neapolitan requires following certain rules. This is because your standard Neapolitan is a simple blend of a thin base, tomatoes and mozzarella. Sound familiar?
When done right, a Neapolitan isn’t your typical margarita by any stretch, but it must be done right.
So, how do you make a Neapolitan pizza?
The right ingredients
A Neapolitan pizza can have any toppings you like, provided they are also accompanied by two things: San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella.
San Marzano tomatoes replace your traditional tomato sauce, with slices instead melting onto the pizza when baked. Only found on the volcanic hill south of Mount Vesuvius in Italy, these tomatoes have an incredible, earthy, yet sweet taste and are far less acidic than your typical tomato grown at home.
Then you have the buffalo mozzarella. This cheese topping must come from free-roaming water buffalo reared in the Italian provinces of Lazio or Campania on the country’s western coast. Stronger, creamier and richer than your standard mozzarella, this special brand of cheese is packed full of intense flavours you won’t find anywhere else.
While sourcing these fine ingredients, consider also treating yourself to some 00 Caputo flour. While it isn’t as important as the tomatoes and mozzarella, it does add to the flavour and texture of the dough, making this homemade Neapolitan pizza even more divine.
The right technique
For a true Neapolitan pizza, prepare your dough then leave it to stand for at least 24 hours. This helps ensure the base is infused with all the delicate flavours of the yeast and flour.
A Neapolitan pizza should also only be around 3 millimetres thick, to get that perfect balance of flavour between toppings and dough. It also keeps the pizza fairly low in calories.
Ingredients and Recipe
It wouldn’t be fair to talk about how great Neapolitan pizza is and why you should make it at home without providing a recipe!
This recipe comes straight from our master chefs at London pizza restaurant Rossopomodoro. It’s what they use every day, with some tiny adjustments for better baking in a home oven, to craft the tastiest pizza this side of the Naples.
You’ve got to start with:
These ingredients will make three to four 12-inch Neapolitan pizza bases. For smaller amounts, just divide up the ingredient quantities.
- 500m of water
- 30 g salt
- 2.5 g fresh yeast
- 850g of 00 Caputo flour (extra-fine plain flour will do)
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil (necessary if you bake your pizza in an electric oven)
- San Marzano tomatoes
- Buffalo mozzarella
- Any extra toppings you’d like
- Mix salt and water
- Add half of the flour and all olive oil, crumble in the yeast and mix
- Incorporate the rest of the flour until your dough can be removed from the bowl in one piece
- Cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for one hour
- Make three to four balls with the dough
- Place the dough balls on a greaseproof paper tray and leave them to rise covered with cling film for between 3 – 36 hours.
- After rising, hand-stretch the dough on a tray
- Now add your San Marzano Tomatoes and authentic buffalo mozzarella, plus extra toppings if chosen
- Bake at 220 degrees until the crust is golden (7 to 10 minutes)
Now, go and enjoy your famous Neapolitan pizzas made in the comfort of your own home!