Neapolitan-style Pizza at Home

Pizza and photography by Chase Lewis.

The recipe below is a good starting place for making pretty darn good Neapolitan style pizza at home! It’s based on trial and error in my home kitchen. My biggest piece of advice is to be open to trying more than once and experimenting to figure out what works for you!

The process below may look intimidating (I tried to include helpful details from my own experiences), but I promise after a few tries it becomes easier and quick.

If you want to move to the next level or learn more about Neapolitan pizza, I recommend checking out these resources:

The abbreviated do’s and don’ts of Neapolitan pizza. Image credit: https://www.reddit.com/r/neapolitanpizza/

Serving Size: Two 12–14" Pizzas

  • Side note: I like to aim for dough balls that are about 260g. Much more and they’re too big for my baking steel, much smaller and they’re just too small (for example, I recommend bumping up from 230g on the Stadler Made dough calculator above)

Dough Ingredients:

  • 315g 00 Flour (I like Mulino Caputo’s “Pizzeria” variety that comes in a blue package) — Alternatively bread flour would be preferable over all-purpose flour if that’s all you have.
  • 195g Warm Water (62% hydration ratio with the flour, ~100ºF)
  • 0.6g Dry Yeast (either instant or active dry works)
  • 9.5g Kosher Salt (3% ratio with the flour)
  • 8g Olive Oil or Honey (optional and not-traditional, but it can help with browning in low-temperature home ovens)

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 15.oz can canned whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano or whatever kind you think taste good)
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • Torn basil leaves to taste

Topping Ingredients:

  • Sprinkle of dried Oregano (optional, to taste)
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Grind of black pepper (optional, to taste)

Mixing the dough & room temperature rise:

  1. Weigh dry ingredients using a kitchen scale. If using active dry yeast, place the yeast in your warm water to bloom and make sure it starts bubbling after 5–10 minutes. If using instant, it can go right in with the other dry ingredients.
  2. Add water and mix your ingredients with a wooden spoon. When it starts to come together, switch to mixing by hand. Begin to knead the dough in the bowl to gather all dry ingredients into one mass. Continue kneading on your countertop until dough comes together into a relatively smooth consistency and ingredients feel combined together, about 5 minutes-ish.
  3. Shape the dough into a loose ball and place back in the mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or another mixing bowl or lid. Allow dough to rise at room temperature for 6–12 hours.

Making dough balls:

  1. After your room temperature rise, lightly flour your work surface and take your dough out of the mixing bowl. Divide dough in half (or appropriate number of dough balls for your recipe).
  2. Form your dough balls by (GENTLY!) folding the dough on itself repeatedly. I like place my wrists together and cup my hands, pressing the dough to fold upwards, using my fingers to poke gentle holes in the top of the dough as I fold and press. This traps some extra air in the dough. After each fold, rotate the dough 90º in your hands and repeat about 15-ish times until the dough becomes smooth and soft like a baby’s bottom. It’s really more of a press, and try gentle and avoid tearing the bottom of the dough from too much stretching.
  3. When your dough ball is looking good, take the top of the dough ball and gather the ends and pinch so that the seam comes together. Sometimes I do a little bit of twisting as I pinch to help it stick.
  4. Place your dough balls seam-side down in lightly olive-oiled deli containers and seal with the lids.

Cold Ferment and final proof:

  1. If you’re making pizzas the same day, you can leave the deli containers on the counter at room temperature for a final proof for 1.5–2 hours.
  2. If you’re planning ahead and making pizza later in the week, stick them in the fridge. The dough works great in the fridge for 48–72 hours. The benefit of this extra cold-fermentation time is some richer flavors in the dough.
  3. If you cold-fermented, pull your dough out of the fridge 1–1.5 hours prior to cooking to warm up and proof at room temperature.

Making the sauce:

  1. Neapolitan pizza sauce uses raw crushed tomatoes rather than a cooked sauce like other types of pizza. Whole canned tomatoes are what you want, try to avoid pre-crushed tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes are the authentic variety, but my best advice is to use what tastes good to you. I tried a few different canned tomatoes until I found one I liked (Bianco DiNapoli, I could eat this stuff like candy — unlike the stuff I tried from Cento and Muir Glen).
  2. Neapolitan pizza sauce is more liquid-y than other pizza sauces, and with bigger chunks of tomato. Again, make your sauce according what you think tastes good, but I find a lot of canned tomatoes are packed in too much liquid. I often put the tomatoes in a mixing bowl and crush them with my hands. Then I drain most off the extra liquid with a strainer according to how I like it. (This helps prevent my pizzas from getting too soupy in the oven.)
  3. Salt the sauce to taste. Salt should not make the sauce taste salty, but rather enhance the flavors so it tastes almost “more” tomatoey. I like to tear up a few pieces of fresh basil and add to the sauce to brighten it up a bit. You could add oregano or Italian seasoning if you want, but I tend to feel that less it more.

Preparing other toppings:

  1. If you’re using buffalo milk mozzarella, it’s traditional to tear into pieces or dollops. If using cow’s milk mozzarella, it’s traditional to prepare slices (either ovals or strips, your preference). I highly suggest placing the cheese in a strainer or on a plate with a paper towel for 20 minutes prior to cooking to release some of the excess liquid. This helps prevent your pizza from getting soupy on top in the oven.
  2. One hack I’ve learned is to soak your topping basil in the extra mozzarella brine (if you have it) for 20 min prior to cooking. This will help prevent your basil from shriveling up the minute it goes in the oven.

Cooking the pizzas:

  1. Place your baking steel or pizza stone in the oven on the top rack.
  2. Preheat your oven on its highest bake setting (often 550ºF) for 1.5 hours prior to cooking.
  3. (Optional) 20 minutes prior to cooking, switch your oven over to broil on high. You may have to release a little bit of heat from your oven every few minutes in order to keep your broiler on, but it’s worth it because the broiler can get hotter than the convection oven.
  4. Take your proofed dough ball out of the deli container and place in a bowl filled with a small amount of flour. Let it sit for a few seconds and then flip over to the other side. After a few seconds place it on a lightly flour dusted work surface.
  5. Follow this video’s dough stretching technique as best as you can. Don’t worry about the tossing parts.
  6. Work swiftly to top your pizza so as to prevent your pizza from sticking to the work surface. Top somewhat conservatively with your sauce, leaving about 1 inch from the edge. I like to sprinkle a little bit of oregano if I didn’t add it directly to the sauce. Add your mozzarella and any other toppings you want. Mortadella is one of my favorite fancy toppings, and sometimes I also like a classic pepperoni.
  7. I highly recommend waiting to add your topping basil until part-way through cooking or at the end due to home ovens having longer cook times. Otherwise your basil will just get charred. I like to finish off the toppings with a grating of black pepper and a circular drizzle of olive oil.
  8. Transfer the pizza to a lightly flour dusted pizza peel. Give it a little shake to make sure it’s not sticking.
  9. If using your broiler, make it’s on and hot (usually glowing) and slide your pizza onto your pre-heated cooking seurface. Under the broiler it will cook quickly, so watch carefully! Using this method, I’ve been able to get cooking times down to about 2 minutes which is CRAZY for a home oven! When my pizza starts to get some black leopard spots, I use my pizza peel to turn it 180º. Some oven char is good but take it out before it gets too charred!!
  10. Move it to a cooling rack for a few minutes before slicing and digging in. If you didn’t add your basil mid-way through cooking, now is a great time to. Enjoy!

Unit Still Photographer and wannabe pizzaiolo. www.chasealewis.com

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