Making the perfect pizza dough

There are hundreds of types of dishes that claim to be pizza, with the crust taking on all kinds of weird and wonderful variations. Under EU law Pizza Neapolitana is a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish. This is a scheme that aims to protect traditional food products of a specific character from certain regions. This is done to protect producers from a specific region from being copied. Under this law, there are certain things that make a Pizza Neopolitana what it is. In this blog, we’ll look at how to make authentic Neapolitan Pizza dough.

The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana – the authority on authentic Neapolitan pizzas has a very strict set of guidelines on how to create an authentic dough. Here is what they say is the definitive way to make dough:

Ingredients (makes enough dough for 12 pizzas – reduce to suit)

Water – 1 litre

Salt – 50-55 grams

Fresh Yeast – 3 grams

Wheat Flour – 1.7-1.8kg (type 00 or 0 – this is strong flour used for breadmaking)

 

Preparation

Blend the flour, water, salt and yeast together. Pour a litre of water into a bowl and dissolve the salt into it. Add 10% of the flour and then add the yeast. Gradually start adding the flour, kneading as you go. This should be done over a period of around 10 minutes. Knead the dough for a further 20 minutes until it reaches the right consistency.

 

The leavening

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When the dough is mixed it is now ready for the leavening process. This means covering the dough with a napkin and leaving it in a warm area (23-25°C is the ideal temperature) away from any draughts for two hours. The dough will then double in size in this time.

When this is done the next stage is called ‘staglio a mano’ – meaning hand fed. This process involves making panetto (dough balls). These dough balls should weigh between 180-250g You can see how to do it in the video below.

 

 

Once the panetto is formed they should be left in a rising box at a temperature of 25°C for a further six hours

 

Forming the Pizza

Once the second rising phase has happened the dough is then ready for forming. To form the pizza, roll out the dough with a motion from the centre outwards and press with the fingers of both hands. For authentic Neapolitan pizza, use of tools like rolling pins is strictly prohibited. A pizza should be roughly 30cm in size.

You can see how you do it here:

Once you’ve shaped your pizza you can then add your toppings. Under the protection of TSG, the only toppings permitted are sauce made from San Marzo tomatoes, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana and basil. You can , of course,put whatever toppings you like on.

 

Baking

For authentic pizza, you have to use a wood-burning oven (you can’t call any establishment that doesn’t have a wood fired oven a pizzeria), though you probably don’t have one of these at home. Ideally, a pizza should be cooked for 60-90 seconds at 440-480°C. Home ovens can’t reach these temperatures, so I would advise using a pizza stone and setting your oven as hot as it goes. Pre-heat the stone for 30 minutes. It should only take about 4 minutes to cook your pizza. Enjoy!