Making an authentic Neapolitan pizza is simple to do.
So, if you have a dinner party coming up or just want to try out making a pizza from scratch, we have the best recipe for you.
One of the best parts of making an authentic Neapolitan pizza is that you can get the majority of your ingredients from your local grocery store.
The History of Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
You may think that Italians have been making pizza since the beginning of time. When people think of Italian food, their first thoughts are always pizza and pasta. But, let us shock you here… The first Neapolitan pizza was created in the late 1800s. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that long ago.
So, why did it take them so long to make an authentic Neapolitan margarita pizza? Tomatoes weren’t available in Italy until the 16th century. They didn’t start magically growing, they were brought back from voyages!
Most people wouldn’t even think of touching, let alone tasting a tomato around that time. There were so many rumors going around that tomatoes were poisonous. So many Italians refused to try the new find.
The majority of the upper-class citizens did not want to take the risk of eating a tomato. So, naturally, the tomatoes were left to the lower class individuals. Guess what? They didn’t die! They actually came up with the delightful duo of pairing the tomatoes with bread.
This was a well-loved combo that many wives prepared for their working husbands. The upper-class soon heard of this new food pairing and finally took the plunge to taste tomatoes. They didn’t look back.
At this point in time, bread topped with tomatoes was a popular dish. So, when did the first authentic Neapolitan pizza get created? The best estimation is during 1889. There was a royal visit to Naples by Savoy’s King and Queen.
To welcome royalty to the area, Raffaele Esposito decided to prepare a dish that displayed the nation’s flag colors. To do this, a dough base topped with red tomatoes, white buffalo mozzarella, and fresh green basil was presented. It was packed with delicious flavors which soon become one of Naples’ most iconic food dishes.
Even to this day, tourists and locals love to order a Neapolitan margarita pizza from the region it was invented. It is simple and quick to make but also fills you up after a day of exploring the beautiful sights that Naples has to offer.
What Makes It So Great?
If you have never had the opportunity to visit Naples or anywhere else in Italy, then you haven’t experienced how great pizza can be. Takeout pizza is good. I bet you can’t think of five people who don’t enjoy pizza! However, authentic Neapolitan pizza is completely different but in a good way.
In Naples, the focus of the pizza is the sweet and fresh tomato sauce. This is part of a pizza that often gets overlooked in the USA. Why? Well, that’s an easy one.
In many non-authentic pizza restaurants, the emphasis is on the cheese. Not just what type of cheese, but the amount of cheese. It’s kind of a go hard or go home moment.
An authentic Neapolitan margarita pizza is simple to put together. You prepare your base then add your sauce, which is made from fresh tomatoes and tomato paste with a pinch of salt. Then add a few chunks of buffalo mozzarella and top with a sprinkling of fresh basil leaves.
You have to make sure that you don’t overload your pizza with cheese. If you do this, you will take away the authenticity of this recipe. Limit yourself to a few chunks here and there. The cheese will melt when it gets placed into the oven so don’t panic.
Once your pizza is cooked, just add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and you are good to go! It does sound easy to make, right? If you feel like making your very own authentic Neapolitan pizza, keep reading as we are about to share our go-to recipe which will never fail you!
The Recipe - Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
Thankfully, it is quite easy to make an authentic Neapolitan pizza in your own home. It is your basic margarita pizza with a classic twist.
There are three stages to this recipe: making the dough, adding the toppings, and cooking the pizza.
To begin with, you will need the following ingredients:
- 4 cups of flour
- 2 tsp dry yeast
- 1 ½ cup of water
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 4 medium-sized tomatoes
- 1 ½ cup of buffalo mozzarella
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch of fresh basil
Method - How to Make an Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
We’re going to start by making the dough. Having the perfect texture to your pizza base is beyond important, especially if you are looking to make an authentic tasting pizza.
Let’s dive straight into what you need to do!
Grab yourself a large mixing bowl and combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.
Once they are thoroughly mixed, you can start adding the water in slowly. Use your hands, to properly combine the wet and dry ingredients together.
Once you are left with a dough-like consistency, you are ready to move onto the next step.
Let your dough breathe for 10 minutes. That means no touching! Once ten minutes have passed, you can begin to work the dough again for roughly ten minutes.
You will be done when the dough is no longer sticky. If you’re having trouble getting this consistency, you may need to add some flour to your dough. If you need to do this, use small quantities and build up slowly if necessary.
Split the dough into two halves. Pop both halves into separate zipper bags and put them in the refrigerator for 8 to 72 hours. It is important to note that these two bags will make a total of six pizzas.
Once you have waited for 8 to 72 hours, it is time to make the pizzas. Before you place the dough onto your work surface, you will need to lightly dust your countertop with flour. This will help avoid the dough sticking to your countertops.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out on your work surface. Then equally divide both balls of dough into three equal pieces. Grab six small-sized bowls and lightly add some oil. Place one dough ball into each bowl. The oil will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl.
Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for two hours outside of the refrigerator.
Now it is time to make a start on the sauce. Take your tomatoes and chop them into medium chunks. It doesn’t have to be perfect as they will be placed into a blender next!
Once you have chopped the tomatoes and added them to the blender, you can also put in the tomato paste. Turn your blender on and turn it to a slow setting. The end result should not be a smooth sauce. You will want some tomato chunks still visible in your sauce.
Authentic Neapolitan pizza is all about that sweet and fresh tomato sauce. Add a pinch of salt before moving onto the next step.
Take the buffalo mozzarella and dab away any excess moisture with a paper towel.
This will prevent the pizza from becoming moist and soggy. You want to protect that pizza base you’ve worked hard at, right?
Ensure that your basil is clean and finely chop the leaves.
Nothing beats the fresh scent of basil leaves!
Once your dough has been out of the refrigerator for two hours, you can start working the dough into a pizza base shape. First, grab your ball of dough and dip it into some flour.
Squash the dough onto your work surface with your hands and then make small dimples around the edges of your dough.
Next, you can begin to stretch your dough out on your work surface. Do this by stretching in circular motions and trying to avoid creating any air bubbles.
When you are happy, pick up your dough and drape it over your knuckles. This will further stretch your pizza base. Let it hang and slowly rotate for an even stretch. Place your dough back onto your work surface. It should now be starting to take shape!
Add your pizza dough base onto a pizza skillet. Using a ladle, start distributing the sauce on the top of the pizza.
Start in the middle and work your way to the crust in circular motions. This will help you to achieve an even layer.
Cut your buffalo mozzarella into medium-sized chunks. Add the chunks to your pizza but do it sparingly!
As much as we all love a cheese feast pizza, an authentic Neapolitan style pizza doesn’t actually have a lot of cheese.
A few chunks here and there will definitely do the trick, trust us! Remember, the cheese will melt and spread out slightly in the oven.
Lightly sprinkle some fresh basil leaves on top of your pizza.
It is now ready to go into the oven!
For the best results, we recommend cooking in a pizza oven. However, we don’t all have the luxury of owning one of those so don’t sweat it!
We will also let you know how to cook your authentic Neapolitan pizza in your regular oven too.
When you place your pizza into the pizza oven, you will almost immediately see the crust begin to rise. This is what we want.
As the heat source is right at the back, you will want to rotate your pizza every 45 seconds for an even bake.
Your pizza is finished cooking when the cheese has successfully melted on top and has begun to caramelize.
Ensure your oven is preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place your pizza into the oven and you will be able to see the crust rising and the cheese melting, just like it would do in a pizza oven.
It should take around ten minutes for your pizza to finish cooking.
When your pizza is ready, the last step is to add some extra virgin olive oil on top.
If you want to serve the pizza just as they would in Naples, leave it uncut. On the other hand, if you want to help out your family and friends, you can cut it before serving. Whatever floats your boat!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Worth Investing in a Pizza Oven?
Many people often ask whether they need a pizza oven to cook authentic style pizzas. Realistically, the answer to this is no. You can use your regular home oven. However, cooking pizza in an oven made specifically for pizzas does add so much to your end dish.
Cooking in a pizza oven does make your Neapolitan pizza slightly more authentic. This is how most people from Naples would choose to bake their pizzas. When you think of a pizza oven, you may think of those huge constructed ovens that are placed in your back yard.
If you have the money to get one of these and think you will get good use from it, we say go for it! They would make a great feature to your home and would definitely be a conversation starter. I’m sure all of your friends and family would constantly be at your house!
If you don’t have the money to build an outdoor pizza oven, then we may have a solution for you. Meet the Presto 03430 Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven. This oven is perfect to place onto your countertop to create delicious and authentic tasting pizzas.
If you have read our recipe thoroughly, you will know that we advise rotating your pizza every 45 seconds when it is in the oven. This pizza oven takes away the need to do this as it does it for you! This saves you time and ensures you get a beautiful, evenly baked pizza.
The pizza oven comes with a removable baking pan which makes it almost effortless to store in your cabinets. Due to it being removable also means that it is easy to clean when you are finished baking. This is a fantastic benefit of the product as we all know how fiddly home ovens can be to clean.
Another great feature of this pizza oven is that you can set a timer. When the timer ends, the oven turns off. No more overbaked or burnt pizzas in your house! Perfectly baked authentic Neapolitan pizza can definitely be achieved with this budget-friendly buy.
How to Eat Neapolitan Pizza Authentically
One of the most popular debates around pizza is whether you should eat it with your hands or using cutlery. If you’re reading this, you’re probably used to pizza being served in handy slices. Meaning that you can just dig in straight out of the box.
However, if you really want that authentic Neapolitan experience when eating pizza, there are two things you need to do. First up, do not serve your pizza pre-cut. It may sound crazy, but it’s how the Italians do it. It was actually the American influence that got restaurants serving pizzas pre-cut.
Over in Naples, pizzas are served whole. The second thing you must be aware of is you must use cutlery. As much as you may think this is an inconvenience, it’s not. Authentic Neapolitan pizza is quite thin and therefore will not stay stiff if you eat it with your hands.
This could get you into a messy situation. Not a good look! So, we recommend picking up a knife and fork to get that true Neapolitan experience. Once you start eating your pizza this way, you will not be disappointed.
It slows down your meal and that in itself allows you to enjoy each flavor and the textures you have created. Pizza should not be rushed, it is a combination of some of Italy’s finest ingredients. Slow down, enjoy your pizza and start daydreaming about your next vacation to Naples.
Why It Is Important to Let Your Pizza Dough Rest
There are many reasons why you should let your pizza dough rest before moving onto the stretching of the pizza base. A lot of people don’t realize how much of an effect this resting time has on the pizza’s outcome. If this is your first time making pizza dough, let us tell you why you should let your dough rest.
There are three main reasons why you should let your dough rest before working it into a pizza base. Firstly, allowing your dough to rest will help it become a lot more manageable. The dough will become much more stretchy and you will be able to get much better results when you turn it into a pizza base.
Secondly, letting the dough rest will add flavor to your pizza. Taking some time away from your dough will activate the yeast and will make it taste a little bit sour. You may notice this flavor in many pizzas you have eaten before. The dough is a lovely contrast to the sweetness of the sauce and other toppings.
Lastly, your dough will become light in texture. Air bubbles will form inside the dough which will take away the heaviness of the pizza. This texture will keep people coming back for more.
We hope that you have enjoyed making this authentic Neapolitan pizza. We sure have loved sharing this recipe with you all. Pizza is one of life’s greatest gifts. It is ideal to share with friends and can be adapted to suit any dietary needs if required.
If you want a taste of Naples in your own home, this recipe is a must for you to try. It is simple to make as long as you properly prepare your dough.
A pizza made from scratch is made with love, and this authentic Neapolitan pizza will be just that.
Explore the art of creating a perfect pizza and share your new passion with your friends and family!