Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world, and Napoletan pizza is one of the most iconic and beloved varieties. Originating in Naples, Italy, this style of pizza is characterised by its soft, chewy dough, flavourful tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese. But there's much more to Napoletan pizza than meets the eye. In this guide, we'll explore the history, ingredients, and techniques behind this beloved dish and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Napoletan pizza.
The History of Napoletan Pizza
Napoletan pizza has been enjoyed in Naples for centuries, but its origins can be traced back even further to ancient civilisations. The ancient Greeks and Egyptians are believed to have created similar flatbreads, and the ancient Romans made a dish known as "placenta" that was similar to modern-day pizza.
Pizza as we know it today, however, was developed in Naples in the late 18th century. At that time, Naples was a busy port city with a large population of working-class people, and pizza was a cheap and convenient food that could be easily made with basic ingredients like flour, water, and tomato sauce. It quickly became popular among the city's residents and has since spread to other parts of Italy and the world.
The Key Ingredients of Napoletan Pizza
There are only a few key ingredients needed to make Napoletan pizza, but it's important to use the highest quality ingredients for the best results. Here's what you'll need:
Dough: Napoletan pizza dough is made from just flour, water, yeast, and salt. It should be soft and chewy, not crunchy or crispy.
Tomato sauce: The sauce used on Napoletan pizza is usually made from high-quality, ripe tomatoes, olive oil, and a blend of spices.
Mozzarella cheese: The cheese used on Napoletan pizza is typically mozzarella, which is a soft and stretchy cheese that's ideal for melting.
Toppings: The toppings on Napoletan pizza are usually simple, like fresh basil or cured meats, and are added sparingly so as not to overpower the flavour of the other ingredients.
The Techniques for Making Napoletan Pizza
Making Napoletan pizza is an art that requires skill and practice. Here are some of the key techniques you'll need to master:
Kneading: The dough for Napoletan pizza should be kneaded by hand, not with a machine, for the best results. The dough should be soft and pliable, not stiff.
Shaping: The dough for Napoletan pizza should be shaped by hand into a round or oval shape, with a raised edge to hold the toppings.
Baking: Napoletan pizza should be baked in a wood-fired oven at a high temperature (around 900°F) for no more than 90 seconds. This ensures that the crust is soft and chewy, not crunchy or crispy.
FAQs About Napoletan Pizza
Q: What is the difference between Napoletan pizza and other types of pizza?
A: The main difference between Napoletan pizza and other types of pizza is the dough, which is soft, chewy, and has a unique flavour that's different from other pizza doughs. Additionally, Napoletan pizza is traditionally made in a wood-fired oven, which imparts a smoky flavour to the crust. The ingredients used in Napoletan pizza are also high-quality, like ripe tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, which sets it apart from other types of pizza.
Q: Is Napoletan pizza only made in Naples?
A: While Napoletan pizza originated in Naples, it has since spread to other parts of Italy and the world. There are now many pizzerias that specialise in Napoletan pizza outside of Naples, including in the United States, Europe, and Asia. However, in order to be considered a true Napoletan pizza, it must meet certain guidelines, including being made with high-quality ingredients and baked in a wood-fired oven at a high temperature.
Q: Can you make Napoletan pizza at home?
A: Yes, you can make Napoletan pizza at home if you have the right ingredients and equipment. While it can be challenging to recreate the unique flavours and textures of a wood-fired oven, it's possible to make a delicious Napoletan pizza with a regular kitchen oven. Just be sure to use high-quality ingredients and follow the traditional techniques for making the dough, shaping the pizza, and baking it.
Napoletan pizza is a beloved dish that has stood the test of time, with a rich history and a unique flavour profile that sets it apart from other types of pizza. Whether you're a fan of this classic dish or are just discovering it for the first time, there's no denying the magic of a perfectly made Napoletan pizza.