The 10 Essentials for making an authentic Neapolitan Margherita Pizza

Our customers love our pizzas (especially the classic that is “Margherita”) and we are often asked what makes our pizzas taste so much like the pizzas made in Italy. Well there are a few secrets we would like to keep but if you want to know some of the essentials then read our Top 10 tips to an authentic Neapolitan Margherita Pizza.

Our Stunning Dough Bellissimo Wood Fired Pizza Horsebox

The art of making great pizzas is taken very seriously in Italy, and it can get very scientific and technical so we’ve cut through the crust of the detail to pick out 10 key points you definately need to follow to create a classic.

  1. LIMITED INGREDIENTS
  2. COOKING METHOD
  3. SIZE OF THE BASE
  4. TYPE OF FLOUR
  5. PREPARATION OF THE DOUGH
  6. HAND STRETCHING THE BASE
  7. QUALITY AND ORIGIN OF TOPPINGS
  8. COOKING TEMPERATURE
  9. COOKING TIME
  10. END APPEARANCE AND TASTE

LIMITED INGREDIENTS…

A Margherita is made from just dough, tomato sauce, olive oil, mozzarella, oregano and fresh basil. Nothing more, nothing less. So no sneaky chilli or some leftover cheddar. It is by far the most popular pizza we make in Dough bellissimo.

COOKING METHOD

For a traditional pizza it should be cooked in a wood fired oven that has reached the optimum temperature. Most domestic ovens just won’t reach the cooking temp required and the flavour of the pizza is enhanced by the wood fire which is hard to replicate in electric pizza ovens. Our Dough Bellissimo oven is capable of holding a large wood fire whilst still cooking multiple pizzas on the stone brick floor.

Dough Bellissimo Wood Fired Oven

SIZE OF THE BASE

The diameter of the base should not exceed 35cms (14″). We generally cook just 9″ and 14″ pizzas using 200g or 280g dough balls.

TYPE OF FLOUR

Wheat flour type “00” should only be used which is highly refined and feels like talcum powder to the touch. It should be free of any other grains. We have our dough balls made by hand using Caputo “00”. We believe a great tasting pizza starts with the perfect base.

PREPARATION OF THE BASE

The direct dough method should be used. For 1000ml of water the following measurements should be applied.

Salt – 40-60 grams

Yeast – Mother yeast 5-20% of flour used. Depending on yeast strength or fresh beer yeast at 0.1 to 3 grams depending on quality.

Flour “00” – 1600 to 1800 grams

Once mixed the dough should be left to allow the first stage of fermentation to take place and the dough to rise

Then the dough may be handled and cut into dough balls “panetti”. Standard sizes are 200g balls for 9″ pizzas and 280g balls for 14″ pizzas

The dough balls then need to go through a second fermentation dough rise from a minimum of 8 hours to 24 hours.

HAND STRETCHING AND TOPPING

The pizza base should always be prepared by hand. The key to base preparation is to manage the air that is in the dough and move it from the centre of the base to the outer edges / crust known as the “cornicone” to create a height of about 1 to 2 cm. In fact dough stretching is a lot easier than people think!

Claudio shows some theatrical pizza dough stretching

QUALITY AND ORIGIN OF TOPPINGS

Fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes may be used but they must be San Marzano DOP or Pomodorini DOP.

Mozzarella should be certified and can be “Bufala Campana DOP” or “Mozzarella STG” or “Il Fior di latte DOP”

Olive Oil. A good quality Virgin Olive Oil needs to be used due to the very high cooking temperatures to avoid bitterness and oxidation. Cold pressed, unrefined oil is best. the oil should be spiraled on top of the pizza.

Oregano – dried Oregano is fine but not mixed blends. heck that it is “Origanum Vulgare”

Basil – Only fresh Basil should be used and applied before the cooking process begins.

At Dough Bellissimo we are lucky to have an Italian Food wholesaler / importer who delivers to our base camp every week. It’s exiting to order authentic Italian ingredients that are produced in small towns and villages across Italy as well as locally sourced ingredients too including our home grown on our smallholding in North wales.

COOKING TEMPERATURE

A stone base cooking surface should be between 380 and 430 degrees. At Dough Bellissimo we start the wood fire in the centre of the oven directly on the stones where the pizzas will be cooked and then move the fire to the back of the oven just before we commence cooking / Temperatures are checked using a laser probe which is highly accurate.

The oven dome (oven ceiling) temperature should be about 480 degrees

Dough Bellissimo – North wales Festival

COOKING TIME

At the temperatures acquired above a Neapolitan Pizza should cook in about 60 to 90 seconds. Maintaining the fire and heat of the oven is a great skill using kiln dried logs that are pre-heated so that they combust on impact with the flames from the cooking fire.

END APPEARANCE AND TASTE

The consistency of the pizza should be soft, easy to bend and fold. the crust should be like fresh baked bread with a slight crunch. The tomatoes should have dried to a rich consistency providing a densely enriched flavour. The aroma of the oil, oregano and basil should be fragrant and fresh. The mozzarella should be evenly distributed and melted to the same elastic consistency across the pizza. For maximum flavour the pizza should be eaten within 10 minutes of leaving the oven.

If you would like to know more about how we cook our wood fired pizzas at Dough Bellissimo then just drop us a line at info@riceboxevents.co.uk

Jon handles the heat of the oven

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