How to Make Neapolitan Pizza at Home
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Neapolitan pizza is the Holy Grail of pie. However, the real deal requires a blazing hot wood-fired oven in order to acquire the characteristic charred, smokey crust. Luckily, it's possible to make a pizza that comes close to perfection in a conventional oven. The secret? A pizza stone.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
Makes 3-4 12" pizzas.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 4 cups (or 500g) bread flour
- 1 1/2 cups (or 375ml) water
- 1/4 tsp. (1g) active dry yeast
- 2 tsp. (10g) salt, plus some extra to taste for the sauce
- Olive oil for greasing and drizzling
- Semolina flour for dusting
- Pure tomato purèe to serve (adjust amount according to desire)
- Italian mozzarella cheese to taste
- Fresh basil
A good pizza dough takes close to 24 hours to be ready, so we recommend starting the day before you plan to eat!
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and dry yeast. Add half the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Next, add the salt and continue to mix. Finally, mix in the remaining water. The mixture should be quite clumpy and wet; that's okay!
Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let rest, at room temperature, for 30-45 minutes.
Transfer the dough onto a work surface lightly dusted with semolina flour. Using a bench scraper or large spatula, fold the dough 8-10 times. Do so by scooping up one side and folding it toward the center before repeating with the opposite side. It will be very sticky but STICK with it! 😉
Lightly brush a large, clean mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 16-18 hours. Remove the bowl from the fridge and let it rise for 3-4 hours at room temperature
Prepare a baking sheet by sprinkling it with semolina flour. Liberally dust a work surface with semolina and pour (yes, pour) the dough into the center. Use a spatula or bench scraper to fold the dough into a more compact pile, then cut it with the scraper into 3-4 equal pieces.
Flour your hands well and form each dough piece into as smooth a ball as possible. Lightly dust them with flour if they're too sticky to handle. Place the finished dough balls onto the baking sheet. Cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise again: 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Meanwhile, make a simple tomato sauce by mixing pure tomato purèe with a drizzle of olive oil and salt to taste. Cut some mozzarella cheese into small chunks for topping.
Preheat your oven (with a pizza stone on a middle rack) to the maximum temperature (usually about 550 F). It can take some time for the oven to evenly heat and for the stone to come up to temperature, so we recommend allowing it to preheat a bit longer than it takes for the built-in thermometer to register.
When the pizza dough has finished rising, generously dust a 12" pizza peel with semolina flour. Place one of the dough balls in the center (keep the others covered) and begin to spread it out by pressing outward, from the center, toward the crust with your fingers. Be gently so as not to tear the dough, and don't press on the outer crust! We want those bubbles.
When the pizza is about halfway spread out, generously dust the top of it with semolina and carefully flip it over. Continue to spread the dough until it is 12" in diameter.
Working quickly, spread your tomatoes over the surface. Gently slide the pizza onto the pizza stone in the oven and close the oven door.
A quick note: every oven is different and, especially when working with maximum temperature settings, the built-in thermometers can be very inaccurate. We've tested ovens that, at the same claimed temperature, vary in cook time by as much as 10 minutes. Use your judgement with the cook. If your oven gets very hot, you may want to place the cheese on the pizza at the beginning, otherwise we recommend waiting to avoid burning.
The pizza crust should puff up quite quickly. You may need to spin it with the pizza peel if it starts to cook faster on one side. When the whole crust is a light, golden brown, carefully sprinkle the cheese on top and continue to cook until it has melted.
Remove from the oven. Top with fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately. Buon appetito!