It is not a fantastic chimera or a mystery lost in the labyrinth of tradition: the royal neapolitan pizza recipe has precise rules, mostly shared by pizza masters. Rules that have been put in black and white at a precise moment in Neapolitan gastronomic history. It is 1984, and two owners of so many historic places in Naples, the pizza chefs Lello Surace and Antonio Pace, decide to found an association aimed at the recognition, valorization and protection of the authentic Neapolitan pizza recipe. That is why, with the contribution of other famous pizza makers of the time, they wrote Disciplinary. A set of rules that, until then, had been transmitted from generation to generation only orally, and that finally found a place in written form. Instruct the new classes of pizza makers in the preparation of a well recognizable Neapolitan pizza.
The characteristics of Neapolitan pizza
Neapolitan pizza, in fact, differs considerably from other types of Italian pizza and focaccia, of which Bel Paese has many varieties. Think Apulian and Genovese focaccia, Roman-style pizza, and Sicilian sfincione, just to name the best known. But the varieties of pizzas and focaccias are many and are strongly characterized according to the territory in which they are produced, with notable differences even at a distance of a few kilometers.
Authentic Neapolitan pizza has a very specific look, texture and taste. It is soft, soft and thin, so much so that it is usually folded on itself (‘wallet’, they say) but with a cornice, which is the edge, high and alveolate, about two centimeters. And, last but not least, the Neapolitan pizza is round and abundant, with dimensions such that it often exceeds the edges of the plate.
the three commandments
The traditional Neapolitan pizza recipe cannot ignore three simple rules. Points so important and taken into consideration that they seem like “sacred commandments” for generations of pizza makers. Are here:
- The dough is prepared with only 4 ingredients: water, salt, yeast and flour.
- Proofing times, according to experts, should not be less than 12/14 hours (but they can be increased to improve dough digestibility). All this at a stable temperature between 24 and 30 degrees and in an environment with humidity between 70% and 80%.
- Cooking in a wood oven.
Neapolitan pizza ingredients
The Neapolitan tradition is quite clear about the quality and dosage of the ingredients. For a liter of water, between 1.6 and 1.8 kg of flour are needed, depending on the type of flour, which must be mixed with about 50 grams of salt and yeast. Yeast dosages also vary depending on the type used. 2 or 3 grams of fresh yeast, but only 1.5 grams of dry yeast. If you use mother yeast, you can use up to a maximum of 20% of the flour mass used. It is also very important that while the ingredients are being mixed, direct contact between the salt and the yeast does not occur for more than 5 minutes. Otherwise, there is a risk of compromising the effectiveness of the yeast.
the rest of the pizza
The fermentation process is quite delicate and must be carried out with special care. The dough should be placed in a warm but humid place, to prevent the surface of the dough from drying out and creating a crust that prevents ripening. To do this, it is usually used to cover the paste with a damp cloth.
A first yeast is followed by cutting the dough into several loaves. Each of them, weighing about 250 g, will form a pizza with a diameter of about 30 cm. Then we proceed with the second yeast. It is the step in which the complex sugars in the flour are broken down into simpler elements that are easier to digest.
Preparation and cooking
After the maturation time, each block must be rolled out. Step to be carried out by pushing the dough from the center to the outside, with a movement of the palm and fingers of both hands. The dough disc needs to be turned and turned several times, so that it can spread out evenly. It is important that the center of the pizza is no more than a couple of millimeters thick. While the cornice must be kept thick and soft, to contain the different condiments. Speaking of condiments: there are no precise indications, except to use products of Campania origin. Peeled tomatoes, buffalo or fiordilatte mozzarella, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil are essential to guarantee the traditional flavors of true Neapolitan pizza.
Kitchen: His Majesty the wood oven
As we said, authentic Neapolitan pizza requires very fast cooking (one minute or one and a half minutes maximum) in a wood-fired oven, at temperatures of around 450 °C. Obviously, a home oven is not capable of replicating this cooking method, but fortunately there are some solutions on the market that can allow even the most demanding home cooks to obtain results very similar to those of a wood-fired oven. In addition to new generation appliances, some specifically designed to cook at high temperatures, there are in fact some resources to cook pizza even with the power of traditional ovens, prolonging cooking times and following some precautions, such as those suggested by the chef Fabio Zago. , which can also be adapted to Neapolitan pizza.