Any Italian pizza you eat in an authentic pizzeria is bound to be mouth-wateringly delicious. But what about making it at home? Believe it or not, you don’t need to be an expert chef, and you don’t need a wood oven to make a magnificent margherita! Read on to learn more about the Italian tradition of making pizza, and how to make your own Roman-style pizza.
The Italian tradition of pizza-making in Naples
Various forms of flatbreads similar to pizza have existed across the world for centuries. But Italian pizza as we know it was created in Naples in the 19th century, with the introduction of tomato sauce.
The first margherita was made in 1889, when a Neapolitan baker made a patriotic pizza with tomatoes (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green) in honour of Queen Margherita of Savoy. The pizzeria (Brandi) is still open today, if you want a true taste of tradition, but it’s just one of many excellent pizzerias in Naples.
The Neapolitan art of pizza-making has even been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. But while Neapolitans might claim that the only “real” pizza is one made using the Neapolitan method, there are countless varieties and techniques.
For example, make sure you try thin and crispy Roman pizza too. It’s lighter, but just as delicious!
Making Italian pizza dough at home: step by step
Here’s one of the best Italian recipes to try at home – a method for making Roman-style pizza dough. We suggest trying Roman pizza before experimenting with the Neapolitan method, as it’s quicker and easier.
This recipe focuses on how to make dough. While toppings are obviously important too, the key to a delicious pizza is quality dough.
Make sure you plan your pizza in advance – you’ll need to leave the dough to rest for about 24 hours before working it again, then adding the toppings, cooking, and eating! In other words, making pizza takes time, but we promise that the outcome will be worth the long wait.
-1 kg Italian flour (type 0 or type 1)
-3 tablespoons of olive oil
-0.7 litres water
-7 g dry yeast
-2 tablespoons of salt
- Make the dough. Mix the flour, water and yeast with a spoon. When you see lumps forming, add the salt and oil. Continue mixing and then move the dough to a surface covered with a light layer of flour.
- Knead the dough. Fold the dough in half towards you, then turn 90 degrees and fold again. Repeat this process multiple times, folding and turning the dough until it becomes less sticky. Then place the dough into a bowl coated with a thin layer of oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Leave for about 15 minutes.
- Continue working the dough. Take the dough out of the bowl and put it back on the working surface. Fold it over on itself again. Put back in the bowl, then leave it to rest for another 15 minutes. Repeat this step 3 times, until the dough loses its stickiness.
- Leave the dough to rise. Move the dough back to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours.
- Prepare the dough for the next steps. Take it out of the fridge and let it rest for about an hour at room temperature. Separate the dough into three equal pieces.
- Pre-heat the oven at 250 °C. Cover the baking trays in oil.
- Stretch out the dough. Cover the working surface with a generous layer of flour. Stretch out the dough for your pizza with your fingertips, working from the outside in, as if you’re gently massaging the dough. Then flip the dough over and continue to stretch it out.
- Transfer the dough to the oven. Carefully transfer each piece of dough to a baking tray, making sure it covers the edges.
- Cook the dough. Leave the trays in the bottom part of the oven for about 15 minutes, then move to the middle rack for 10 more minutes.
- Add toppings and cook again. Take the dough out the oven and add your toppings. For a margherita, use good quality tomato sauce and mozzarella, plus a couple of basil leaves and a dash of olive oil. Return the pizza to the oven and cook.
Once you’ve tried this Italian pizza recipe, you can experiment with toppings, and then have a go at some other simple Italian recipes, like handmade gnocchi.
For more tips and help with planning your trip to Italy, get in touch with Roads to Rome Private Tours!
Read more: Italy by the slice: a guide to Italy’s regional pizzas (Lonely Planet)
Written by Alexandra Turney