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Have you ever thought about making a pizza from scratch? If you step into an Italian woman’s kitchen and follow her instructions, you will be able to make a scrumptious pizza in a few easy steps. Everyone will be envious!
Since Italy embodies pizza, I would like to give you some useful tips for making a very good homemade pizza yourself. Of course, you can buy a readymade dough, or a pizza mix at the supermarket, but can you imagine how satisfied you’d be if you made your own pizza from scratch? It is a genuine act of love and accomplishment. Using your hands and kneading the dough is very gratifying. When you make pizza, you are creating something alive, so choose top-quality organic ingredients. The final product will be natural, light, easy to digest, and appetizing.
What is traditional Italian pizza?
Two typical Italian pizzas are well known all over the world: Margherita and Napoletana. The white dough in the Margherita is topped with a top-quality tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil, nothing more. It’s simple and unforgettable if you know a few tricks.
Pizza Napoletana is “The Pizza” which has been awarded since 2011 the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), a European Union designation of quality ingredients and traditional techniques by the Associazione Pizza Napoletana Verace. A few top-quality ingredients are baked in wood-fired ovens and the dough is topped with tomato sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella, anchovies, dried oregano, and good extra virgin olive oil.
Why is Italian pizza famous?
Honestly, it is a difficult question to answer even for an Italian. Pizza is part of our tradition; it is an integral part of our lives here. A pleasant balance of different flavors may make a pizza unique, but the method of cooking, the quality of the ingredients, and the toppings definitely make all the difference.
Choose the right ingredients to make your pizza perfect
Here is what you need:
- Top-quality organic all-purpose flour;
- Extra fresh mozzarella;
- Very good tomato sauce—not too liquid or sour—I use Mutti;
- Salt gives taste and color, makes the dough more stable, and prevents it from rising too fast. Don’t mix the salt and the yeast directly because the salt spoils the yeast’s rising power. Choose sea salt.
- Active dried yeast is activated by water and provides a better and more stable result.
- Extra virgin olive oil makes the dough softer and tastier. A little oil is also sprinkled onto the pizza as soon as it gets out of the oven.
What is the best flour to use for pizza dough?
Definitely use top-quality flour as it provides good protein, wheat germ, vitamins, and mineral salts. Unfortunately, if you can’t find this flour easily at the supermarket, you can definitely order it, for example, from Bob’s Red Mill or on Amazon. Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking flour is perfect for delicious pizza crusts and is freshly milled from certified organic, hard red wheat. All-purpose flour is one of the best flours for pizza: thin New York-style, Neapolitan-style, and deep-dish crusts.
Store the flour in a dry, cool place at no more than 64°F (8°C) in a well-sealed container. You may also freeze it for up to 7 months; it won’t ferment or go bad, especially if it is organic flour.
How do you make pizza dough step by step
- Combine the flour with the yeast and place it on the table or in a mixing bowl in the shape of a volcano. Use a spoon or a wooden spatula to mix. If you are an expert, you can knead it with your hands, but be careful not to spread pieces of dough everywhere in your kitchen. Cleaning it up will turn a happy moment of making pizza into a nightmare.
- First, mix the flour with the yeast; then add the water, and when everything is well-combined, add the salt and the oil.
- Do not worry if the dough is not smooth. It will rise and be kneaded later on;
- You may also use a stand mixer with a bread dough hook. First, start it on low; then gradually increase the speed.
- This is a fundamental moment in the process because water is the agent that activates the reaction giving life to the gluten. An elastic web is created, which will trap the starch and gas so the rising process will start. Do this test: take a very small piece of dough, roll it into a ball, quickly rinse it under running water, and roll it out with your fingers. If the dough gets as thin as a piece of paper, it will be ready for the rising process.
- Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover it with a tea towel, and let it rise for at least 75 minutes at room temperature. I usually put it into a closed oven.
- After 75 minutes, flour a pastry board and knead the dough to make it stronger; it must incorporate some air. Roll it out into a rectangle. Fold it in two, flatten and rotate it at a right angle, and fold it in two again. Repeat this operation three or four times at least. The dough will be dry and full of air. I usually do this process only once, but 3 times would guarantee the best results; the dough should rest about 15-20 minutes after each folding process;
- Roll it into a ball and set it aside for 8 hours in an oiled bowl bigger than the size of the dough doubled. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it on the lowest shelf in the fridge.
- When you are ready to bake the dough, take it out of the fridge and let it stand for 10 minutes at room temperature. Do not manipulate the dough too much. Use the whole ball or cut it with a sharp knife into two pieces. Try not to release any air.
- Spread some flour onto the pastry board and roll out the dough but only with your hands. Be careful not to tear or strain the dough too much. If it is too sticky, oil your hands and add a little flour pull it with your fingertips to the shape of the baking sheet.
- Put the dough onto an oiled baking sheet lined with parchment paper;
- Pre-heat the oven to 450°F (250°C);
- Top your pizza with your favorite toppings.
Italian Pizza Margherita
The dough for rectangular pizza (13x15 inches)
- 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour (300g)
- 3 tbsp of dry yeast (9 g)
- 3/4 cup of lukewarm water (280ml)
- 3-4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil (2 for the dough and 1 or more for the seasoning)
- ½ tsp of salt
For the topping
- 14 oz of peeled plum tomatoes
- 1 lb of mozzarella (500g)
- 1 tsp of salt
- Fresh basil leaves
- Combine the flour with the yeast and place it on the table in the shape of a volcano;
- First mix the flour with the yeast, then add the water and when everything is well combined, add the salt and 2 tablespoons of oil;
- Place the dough in the center of an oiled bowl, cover it with a tea towel, and let it rise for at least 75 minutes;
- Flour a pastry board and knead the dough to make it stronger; it must incorporate some air;
- Fold it over and over again;
- Roll it into a ball, place it into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it aside for 8 hours on the lowest shelf of the fridge;
- Oil your hands and roll out the dough onto the baking sheet;
- Drain the liquid from the peeled plum tomatoes and smash them with a fork. You may also use commercial pizza sauce. Season it with little extra virgin olive oil (1 tablespoon) and salt and spread it around the dough;
- Bake in a hot oven for about 20-25 minutes;
- After baking, top the dough with fresh sliced mozzarella, drained of its extra water;
- Garnish it with fresh basil leaves and a little extra virgin olive oil;
- Eat it hot and share this wonderful pizza margherita with those you love!