- Difficulty: Average
- Prep time: 30 min
- Cook time: 15 min
- Makes: 3 pieces
- Cost: Low
- Note plus rising time (6 hours)
Naples is a thousand shades – of pizza! But, if you ask around, they’ll tell you that there’s just one original, the Margherita pizza, and that tomato, mozzarella, and basil are the only toppings there are. Every self-respecting pizza chef, or pizzaiolo, has their own recipe that they guard jealously, but we’d like to share the one that we’ve come up with. By following our instructions step by step, your homemade Margherita pizza will be just as good as one from a pizzeria! There are just a few secrets that you’ll soon discover: First of all, the ingredients must all be of the highest quality, the oven must be red-hot, and last, but not least, you must put all your love for cooking into the dough – it’s the only way to make the pizza really special!
If you love pizza you can't miss these recipes:
- Ingredients for three 11-inch (28-cm) pizzas
- Manitoba flour 1 ½ cup (200 g)
- Flour 00 2 ⅔ cups (300 g)
- Water 1 ⅓ cup (300 ml) - at room temperature
- Fine salt 1 ½ tsp (10 g)
- Fresh brewer's yeast 1 ¼ tsp (4 g)
- For the topping
- Tomato puree 1 ¼ cup (300 g)
- Mozzarella cheese 0.5 lb (200 g)
- Basil to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil to taste
- For rolling out the pizzas
- Remilled durum wheat semolina to taste
How to prepare Pizza Margherita
To make the pizza dough, we’ve chosen to knead by hand, but if you prefer to use a mixer or kneading machine, you can follow the same steps, using the dough hook at low medium speed. First of all, pour the two flours into a bowl 1, crumble the yeast into it 2, and pour in the water a little at a time 3. The ideal water temperature is 77°F (25°C).
As you pour the water in, stir slowly using a wooden spoon 4, and once you’ve added nearly all the water, add the salt as well 5. Continue adding the water and begin to knead with your hands to combine the ingredients well 6.
Finally, transfer the dough to a work surface and work it with your hands until it is smooth and even 7. At this point, leave it to rest on the work surface for around 10 minutes, covering it with a bowl 8. Once rested, give it a little fold: Imagine that the ball of dough is divided into 4 parts; take the end of each part, pull it out delicately, and fold it in toward the center 9.
After making the 4 folds, shape the dough into a ball again by turning it over on itself 10. Transfer the ball of dough into a bowl 11, cover with plastic wrap 12, and leave it to rise. For your convenience, you can place the bowl in an oven that’s turned off but with the light on; that way, the inside will reach a temperature of 79-82°F (26-28°C), which is ideal for leavening. Otherwise, you can put the bowl in a warm place. The leavening times are approximate because the dough itself, temperature, and weather conditions all have an influence on the leavening: On average, it should take 6 hours for the dough to double its volume.
After this leavening time has passed, the dough will be nice and puffed up 13, so transfer it to the work surface and divide it into three 9½-oz (365-g) pieces using a dough cutter 14. If needed, you can lightly flour the work surface. Next, take each portion of dough and lift up one end of it and bring it toward the center, like you did before in step 9. Repeat this process for the other 3 ends of the dough 15.
Turn the dough over and carry on with the rounding: Rounding the dough means turning it around with your hands on the work surface, bringing it toward you and then moving it away repeatedly until you get a smooth, even ball 16. As you form these little balls, transfer them to a greased pizza dough container 17 and cover with the lid 18.
Let the balls of dough rise for another 30 minutes 19. In the meantime, place the pizza stone in the upper part of the oven. Turn the oven on and heat to 480°F (250°C) in conventional mode. Now, using a dough cutter, carefully lift the first ball 20 out of the dough container. Transfer it to a work surface with plenty of semolina and also add some semolina to the surface of the dough. Press down in the middle of the ball using your fingertips 21.
Keep doing this, with a rotating movement, so the dough gets stretched out 22. Be sure not to press the edges down, however, and continue pressing and rotating until you get an 11-inch (28-cm) disc 23. Transfer the dough to a pizza peel, taking care not to damage it 24.
Now, using a spoon to help you, spread some tomato purée on the dough, leaving some room around the edge 25. Place the raw pizza in the oven by sliding it carefully onto the stone. Let it cook for around 6 minutes. In the meantime, cut the mozzarella into strips 26 or pull it apart with your hands. You can squeeze it out gently so that it doesn’t release too much water when it gets cooked. After 6 minutes have passed, take the pizza out of the oven using the peel 27.
Arrange the pieces of mozzarella on top 28 and then put it back in the oven for another 6 minutes, approximately. Once it’s nice and golden, take it out of the oven, add the basil leaves 29, and a drizzle of oil if you like, and serve up your Margherita pizza 30. Finish the other two pizzas following the same steps and enjoy while still hot.
FOR COOKING WITHOUT A PIZZA STONE
Once the pizza has been stretched out, transfer it to a greased sheet pan. Top the pizza with the tomato purée and cook in a conventional oven preheated to 480°F (250°C) for 6-7 minutes, on the middle rack.
After this time has elapsed, take the pizza out of the oven, add the mozzarella, and cook again in the oven for 6-7 minutes at the same temperature. Finally, take your Margherita pizza out of the oven and garnish with the basil leaves.
TO MAKE A PIZZA IN A PAN
If you prefer to cook the pizza in a rectangular baking pan, you won’t need to divide the dough into small balls; just one is enough. After the dough has risen for the second time, stretch it out on an 11”x15” (30x40 cm) baking pan, top with the tomato purée, and cook in a conventional oven preheated to 480°F (250°C) for 25-30 minutes.
Once leavened, you can also freeze the pizza dough; in this case, it’s better to divide it into portions before freezing and store in a freezer bag. Later, all you’ll have to do is let the portion(s) you want to use defrost at room temperature, and then follow the steps in the recipe. If you like, you can also freeze the Margherita pizza once it’s partially cooked: Just cook it halfway, let it cool, and then freeze it covered with aluminum foil. When you’re ready to cook it, you can do so from frozen, at a slightly lower temperature.
Created in Naples in 1889 in an inspired move by Neapolitan pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito, Margherita pizza was born out of a visit to the city by Queen Margherita, who was at that time reigning alongside King Umberto I. Esposito created three very different pizzas for the occasion, but the queen liked the one with mozzarella and tomato in particular, which from then on was known as the “Margherita” in her honor.
What is the refractory stone used for? Is essential?
The refractory stone is not essential, but it will allow you to obtain a better result. The base will be crunchier and the development better, thanks to the accumulated heat.
Is it possible to use other types of flour?
It is possible, but using different flours the amount of water could change, as well as the final result. We recommend that you always adjust according to the consistency of the dough.
Is it possible to cook two pizzas at the same time?
If the pizzas are cooked in the oven, it is possible inside the pan. Cook one on the bottom shelf and one on the top shelf, switching them halfway through cooking.
Is it possible to use dehydrated yeast?
Dehydrated yeast can be used instead of fresh brewer's yeast. In this case it will be enough to use 1.5 g.