Margherita Pizza, Napoletana Style

Margherita Pizza, Napoletana Style

Although there are many different styles of pizza, the thin, crip Napoletana style dough served in Naples, Italy is considered by many to be the most authentic pizza. In fact, the Italian government has created a special 'DOC' certification that it gives to restaurants that adhere to the strict official standards. If you want DOC designation, you need to use Italian '00' dough and buy all of the approved tomatoes and cheeses.

This recipe falls slightly short of the Italian government's official DOC designation, but it is as close as you can get without importing or sourcing special ingredients. Certified or not, this is an incredible pizza.
  • Prep: 45 min
  • Rise: Overnight or 8 hours
  • Cook: 7-9 min per pizza
  • Total: 2 hours (active)
  • Yields six 9-inch pizzas
Margherita Pizza, Napoletana Style
  • Day One
  • 22.5 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 5 cups)
  • 3 ¼ teaspoons sea salt OR 1 ¾ teaspoons table salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • In a 4-quart mixer bowl, stir flour, salt, and yeast together with a wooden spoon.
  • 1 ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons cool water (65°F)
  • Slowly add water to flour mixture, stirring with wooden spoon after each ¼ to ⅓ cup addition.
  • Mix dough using either a stand mixer or your hands.
  • Kneading
  • Stand Mixer: Fit mixer with the dough hook and mix on low speed until a coarse ball forms, about 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again on medium-low speed until dough becomes soft and smooth, about another 2 minutes.
  • Mixing by Hand: Knead and fold dough until all the flour is incorporated, about 4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to allow the water to fully saturate the flour. After resting, knead again until the dough is slightly sticky, soft, and supple, about another 3 to 5 minutes.
  • If the dough is too soft and sticky to hold its shape, mix in more flour by the tablespoonful; if it is too stiff or dry, mix in more water by the tablespoonful.
  • Windowpane Test
  • The dough should pass the windowpane test - that is, the gluten should be developed well enough that it allows you to stretch the dough so thin that it lets in as much light as a windowpane. This is sometimes called the newspaper test as you should be able to place the stretched dough on a newspaper and read it through the dough.
  • To test for this, tear off a small piece of dough about the size of a quarter. Using both hands, gentle tug on the sides as if you were making a tiny pizza. Rotate it slightly and pull on the sides again. Repeat this until you have a paper-thin, translucent membrane in the center. If the dough rips or tears, it should be kneaded longer. Be sure that you are constantly rotating the dough as you stretch it as even dough that is done will rip if you pull too far in any one direction.
  • Transfer the dough to a floured counter, dust the top of the dough with flour to absorb the surface moisture, and then, working from the corners, fold the dough into a ball.
  • olive oil
  • plastic wrap
  • Place the ball in a bowl that has been brushed with olive oil. Turn the dough to coat it with oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then put the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. Or, if you are making the pizzas on the same day, let the dough sit at room temperature for 1 ½ hours, punch it down, reshape it into a ball, return the ball to the bowl, and then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • Day Two
  • The next day (or later in the day if refrigerated for only 2 hours), remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator 2 hours before you plan to make the pizzas.
  • 1-3 tablespoons flour
  • The dough will have expanded somewhat and the gluten will be very relaxed. Gently transfer the dough to a floured surface, trying to degas the dough as little as possible.
  • water
  • Using a pastry blade that has been dipped in water, divide it into four or six equal pieces depending on how big you want your pizzas to be.
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Gently round each piece into a ball and brush or rub each ball with olive oil. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment and brush with olive oil.
  • plastic wrap
  • Place each dough all on the pan and loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.
  • If you do not plan to use all of the pieces, place the extra ones in individual zippered freezer bags and refrigerate or freeze. Use refrigerated balls within 2 days and the frozen balls within 3 months.
  • Allow the dough balls to sit at room temperature for 2 hours before making the pizza.
  • Shaping
  • Place a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to the highest setting for at least 1 hour.
  • 1-3 tablespoons flour
  • To shape the dough on the counter, have a bowl of flour near at hand and liberally dust the counter with flour. Lay the dough ball on the counter and roll it over so that the entire ball is coated with flour.
  • Dip your hands in the bowl of flour to coat them and firmly but gently press down on the dough to flatten it into a dish about 1 inch thick. Using your fingertips, press into and around the edge of the dough, turning it as you do, and continue in a spiral fashion, turning and pressing as you work your way to the center of the disk. Stop occasionally to dust your hands and the counter with more flour as needed to prevent sticking.
  • Hang the dough over the edge of the dusted counter so that half of it is suspended. Working with the portion of dough still on the counter, use your fingertips to press around the inner lip of the dough, about ¼ inch from the edge, and continue rotating the disk. Gravity will stretch it as you press and rotate it.
  • Continue until the dough has reached the desired diameter and thickness. The edge should be thicker than the center and it does not need to be a perfect circle.
  • Toppings
  • corn meal
  • Evenly dust a pizza peel or cookie sheet with corn meal before laying the dough down on it. When the dough is in place, jiggle the peel to make sure that the dough is not sticking to it. Wooden peels are better than metal peels for loading dough because the dough slides better on wood. Metal peels are better for removing pizzas because they are thinner and slip more easily under the crust. A clean cookie sheet will be sufficient if you don't have a pizza peel.
  • ¼ to ½ cup Salsa Semplice (pizza sauce)
  • fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
  • Lightly cover dough with sauce. Place four slices (or so) of fresh mozzarella cheese on pizza. Periodically jiggle the peel to be sure that the dough still slides. If it sticks, use a pastry blade or plastic scrapper to release the stuck part and sprinkle more corn meal under it.
  • additional toppings
  • If you are not making a Margherita pizza, then add any additional toppings that you want with one rule: go easy. In order for the crust to cook properly it cannot be weighted down by too many toppings. Save the extra toppings for the deep dish stuffed pizza.
  • Baking
  • Carefully slide the pizza from peel to baking stone. If you've properly coated the peel with corn meal and haven't weighted down the pizza with too many toppings, it should easily slide off with a single, fluid movement. If it sticks, use a spatula to help loosen whatever part is stuck and slide it onto the stone.
  • Bake at the highest temperature your oven can reach. The pizza is done when the crust is puffy and slightly charred on the edge. It will be thinner in the center, and the cheese should be fully melted and just beginning to brown in spots. The underside of the crust should be brown and crispy, not white and soft. If the underside is not ready when the top is finished, lower the shelf for the next pizza. This takes 7 to 9 minutes at 500°F and 5 to 7 minutes at 550°F. Monitor your first few pizzas closely until you determine the appropriate time for your oven.
  • Remove pizza from oven using pizza peel or cookie sheet. Give the oven a minute or two to recover its heat before inserting another pizza. Repeat until all of the dough has been cooked.
  • fresh basil leaves
  • Let each pizza cool for 2 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil leaves, slice, and serve with your favorite wine or beer.
From MakeBetterFood.com. . (http://makebetterfood.com/recipes/napoletana-margherita-pizza/). Adapted from Reinhart, Peter. American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza. (Ten Speed Press. Berkley, CA, 2003). p. 103-109, 167-172.
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