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Does anyone hate Italian pizza? Please, I don’t believe that such a person exists 🙂 Thin, crisp crust, basil aroma and stretching cheese (more cheese, more cheese!)… We all know this very well. But how to achieve this delicious effect? I am gonna tell you 7 secrets that will help you to prepare the best Italian pizza! Say no to deep-frozen junk pizza from supermarket!
You could find out in our previous post, that we came to Rome to explore the Italian food during the food tour by the Walks of Italy. The highlight of our trip was a “behind the scenes” lesson of pizza preparation! We would not be ourselves if we don’t share with you what we have learned about the best Italian pizza…
JUST A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY OF ITALIAN PIZZA
The most famous pizza comes from Naples. In 1870 pizzeria Da Michele was opened here, which initially served only one kind of this delicacy – with tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Several years later, the most popular version was founded – pizza Margherita, with basil, tomatoes and mozzarella. Legend has it that its name is a tribute to Queen Margherita, who chose this one from various types of pizza prepared to honor her. Why? The ingredients reminded her of the Italian flag. Neapolitan pizza is different from this one originating from Rome – in Rome version, cake is more brittle and crunchy, this Naples one is softer, easier to chew and obligatory has burnt edges (cornicione). Our pizzaiolo turned out to be a native Neapolitan, so our pizzas were prepared that way. So what’s the magic behind the best Italian pizza?
7 SECRETS OF THE BEST ITALIAN PIZZA
1. PIZZA DOUGH
It must contain only four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. Of course, not just random ones! Italians take great care to maintain the high standards of pizza and even set up a special organization (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana), which publishes detailed guidelines. For example: flour must have the consistency of talc (highly refined type 00) without any additives, water should be moderately hard, only sea salt must be used, and the yeast must have an average acidity. Phew. Ok, now the fun begins. To make sure that all the ingredients are perfectly joined, you should knead the dough for 10 minutes and then for another 20 minutes to form a perfect ball. Well, this time a little help from mixer is allowed 😉 But wait, don’t exaggerate, you can’t heat up a dough too much! And watch out for pH – must equal to 5.87 (seriously !!!). I believe in you – you can make it. Now the dough quietly rises, and you have 2 hours free.
2. FORMING A PIZZA
Relaxed? Now get back to work. From the risen dough, you have to form smaller balls (panetti) and again you have time to rest. This time the dough rises for 6h! After this time, we take the ball and start the formation of pizza. No, no, not like in the movies, tossing a large disk of dough from one hand to the other. We start from making a crust (approx. 1-2 cm). Then begin to push the dough from center outwards, while turning over on the table. After a while you have a nice flat disc (np more than 0.4 cm thick). To make it a bit easier, you can gently let dough hang from the edge of the table – it will stretch under its own weight. But remember – no rolling pin!
3. TOMATO SAUCE
The best one is made of the San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the fertile volcanic soil of the slopes of Vesuvius. After baking, sauce will be thick and uniform – all the water should evaporate.We pour one big spoon in the center of dough and distribute in circular motion to its crust.
Yes, yes – we will need the famous Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. I wrote about this cheese here already. You have to spread sliced strips or grated mozzarella evenly over the dough.
5. BASIL & OLIVE OIL
Now we add some freshly picked basil leaves. At the end we pour the olive oil, preferably extra virgin directly from the copper canister – in the same direction as we distributed tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. It’s probably some spell to make the magic work 😉
6. BAKING A PIZZA
Pizza lands straight on the stones in the wood-fire oven (eg. oak or ash wood), heated to exactly 485 C degrees. Apparently, it is the most critical factor in the whole process of preparation. If only I have a little more space in the kitchen for such a useful oven… When the pizza is inside, it has to be constantly rotated and controlled, so that each part of it is equally cooked. Cooking time – less than 60-90 seconds. And finally…
7. EATING PIZZA!
Remember that the best Italian pizza is that one straight from the oven. You should eat it within 5-6 minutes. Wonderful aroma of freshly baked dough will certainly make your pizza disappear in the blink of an eye. Yummy!
WILL YOU TRY THIS AT HOME?
PS. Michal was cheating and added some olives and artichokes to his pizza 🙂
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