This is perhaps the most authentic Neapolitan pizza recipe you will find! What’s more, it’s really easy with just 4 ingredients; flour, water, salt, and yeast.
Authentic Neapolitan pizza originates from the birthplace of pizza, Naples. It involves traditional methods and ingredients that have been largely forgotten for quite a while.
American style pizza has mostly taken over Italian pizza with takeaways across the world. But fortunately, the traditional Italian pizzas are making a resurgence.
That’s not to say that American style pizzas can’t be nice because they can. But for me, and many more people like me, nothing comes close to an authentic Italian Neapolitan pizza.
The key characteristics of a perfect Neapolitan pizza are a super thin base with a crispy but light and airy crust.
The base is typically topped with a tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, as well as many other topping combinations.
The other main characteristic of an authentic Neapolitan pizza, the true classic, is that it’s wood fired. This means that it’s cooked in a traditional pizza oven that uses wood as fuel.
The flames lick over the pizza as it’s cooking, providing a slightly smoky taste, not unlike barbecuing or smoking meat. What’s more, the extreme heat produced allows for oven temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius (over 900 degrees Fahrenheit)!
To find out more about exactly what wood fired ovens are all about , check out my article on wood fired pizza here.
This extreme heat allows for exceptional rise in crust, allowing for a crispy yet light and soft pizza at the same time! It really is pizza heaven!
Now you know what a Neapolitan pizza is, but what actually makes the pizza? What really makes this style of pizza better than other pizza? Isn’t pizza just pizza!
Well…No! It isn’t!
For me, the key is that it’s made with quality ingredients, time tested methods, artisan techniques, but most of all, it’s the fact that it’s made with love! When you make Neapolitan pizza, the perfect Neapolitan pizza, you make it with a passion!
It’s not just pizza, it’s a taste and texture sensation that’s amongst the most rewarding food in the world to make and eat.
In a word, no. The pizza you are probably thinking of is a Romana pizza.
Neapolitan pizza has a thin base with a large, well-risen crust. The thin base is extremely important as it allows the base to become crispy without the pizza becoming too crispy and dry.
However, Neapolitan pizza has a thick crust, and is not to be confused with the very crispy and thin crust Romana pizza.
Both styles of pizza are renowned for their excellence. A Romana pizza appeals to those like a really crispy crust and a Neapolitan pizza appeals to those that like a crispy crust that is soft in the middle.
For me, the Neapolitan pizza is the best as you get the really thin base with a crispy crust, but with the added benefit of a soft, baguette-like interior to the crust.
Whilst Neapolitan pizza is not necessarily a healthy meal, in comparison to a takeaway pizza, it is a much more nutritious meal.
For instance, unlike the American style pizza, Neapolitan pizza dough does not contain sugar or oil. In an American style pizza, the sugar and oil is used to encourage browning on the crust, since the pizza is cooked at a much lower temperature.
An authentic Neapolitan pizza dough, on the other hand, is made with just 4 ingredients! Flour, water, salt, and yeast.
What’s more, the simple yet perfect Neapolitan pizza sauce doesn’t contain any added sugar. It contains just tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Whilst this may not sound that exciting, only the best tomatoes are used to produce a wonderfully bright and fresh sauce.
Also, a Neapolitan pizza has much less toppings on. One of the reasons why an American style pizza is thicker is so that it can support the extra weight of the toppings.
Since the base is so thin on a Neapolitan pizza, a much more modest amount of toppings are required. In addition, the quality of the dough in a Neapolitan pizza is allowed to shine. Ensuring that the toppings do not overpower the taste of the dough is a key part of the perfect Neapolitan pizza.
For some great healthy topping ideas, check out my article on authentic Neapolitan pizza toppings here.
Most authentic Italian pizzas are typically topped with some form of cheese. The most common cheese is Mozzarella, closely followed by Parmesan. In fact, the two are often used together.
Only good quality, fresh cheese is used, which is typically much more tasty and nutritious when compared to the cheese used on American style takeaway pizzas.
First the dough is made, and often mixed by hand. Then the dough is proved for around 24 hours. Yes, I know this sounds like a long time but it makes the dough tastier and vastly improves the texture.
Then the dough is balled, before being shaped into a pizza, topped, and then loaded into the oven.
For the perfect authentic Neapolitan pizza, which is cooked in a wood fired oven, the cooking takes just 90 seconds! This is due to the extreme temperatures inside a wood fired oven, which reach up to 500 degrees Celsius (900 degrees Fahrenheit)!
However, Neapolitan style pizza can also be made in a home oven. It is important to get the oven and baking tray/baking stone as hot as possible before loading the pizza. In a home oven, a Neapolitan style pizza can still take as little as 6 minutes.
For more information on cooking in a normal domestic oven, check out my article here.
How To Make The Perfect Neapolitan Pizza:
Makes 4 x 10 inch pizzas.
With 00 flour (recommended):
With Strong white bread flour (decent substitute for 00 flour):
0.3g of yeast may seem like a small amount, and it is. Most recipies you see online will probably call for around 7g of yeast, but that’s for a quick prove of just a couple of hours or so. For a 24 hour prove, we only need 0.3g of yeast, which will produce a much nicer dough.
To measure the yeast I recommend getting some inexpensive scales with an accuracy of 0.01g like the ones I have below:
I only use these scales for weighing the yeast. I use normal digital scales for weighing the other ingredients.
If you don’t have some accurate scales though, don’t worry. I’ve taken a picture of 0.3g of yeast on a regular teaspoon so you can see what it looks like:
Tip: This recipe is for a 24 hour prove. I know it sounds like a long time but don’t worry! Simply make the dough the night before you want to make pizza and you will be good to go on the following evening. Don’t worry about exact timings, anywhere around 20-28 hours will be fine.
Tip: Do not skimp on the tomatoes, quality tinned tomatoes are key to this simple sauce. Instead of cooking the sauce, you can also reduce it by sieving if you prefer.
Tip: Shape and cook the pizzas one at a time. If the pizzas are shaped and left to sit before cooking, they may stick to the surface and then rip when moved. Speed is quite important! Removing moisture from fresh mozzarella stops the pizza from becoming soggy, this can be done by breaking it up and wrapping it in kitchen roll 30 minutes before.
Note: For authentic Neapolitan topping ideas, check out my article here.
Should an Authentic Neapolitan pizza be eaten with a knife and fork or by hand?
This is a maybe pointless (excuse the pun) debate, but it is hotly (do not excuse the pun this time) contested.
In truth, this will largely depend on the particular setting, and how posh it is. But for the most part, you can eat your pizza with your hands without worrying. And this is definitely my favourite way of eating pizza!
In many restaurants, pizza is served unsliced, with a knife and fork. This is generally done to save time slicing the pizza. In which case you can cut the pizza into slices yourself and then eat it with your hands.
If the pizza is served with a pizza slicer then I think it’s definitely safe to assume that the pizza is expected to be eaten with the hands.
Many Italians prefer to eat pizza, when it is served as a meal, with a knife and fork. However, many italians also prefer cutting it into slices and then eating it.
I would just do whatever you feel comfortable with. If you are in a very posh restaurant you may want to eat it with the knife and fork (or you may just not care).
You could always ask the waiter to slice your pizza for you when you order it and gauge the reaction. Many restaurants are happy to slice the pizza before serving it if requested.
This is another controversial question for many people! Should a pizza slice be folded or not?!
In truth, it is a widely accepted and popular way of eating Neapolitan pizza. Because authentic Neapolitan pizza is very thin and a bit floppy, it folds very easily.
In fact, if a slice of Neapolitan pizza isn’t folded it can be quite difficult to eat by hand. Folding it is also my favourite way of eating pizza.
Making delicious authentic Neapolitan pizza is not easy! However, it is an incredible taste and texture experience. What’s more the whole process is really fun so just enjoy the journey!
I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!
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