Making Pizza, Neapolitan Style

Thick-rimmed Neapolitan-style pizza has become synonymous with Italy, and it is arguably the countrys most famous export. Plan ahead to make this pizza, as the cold, slow rise in the refrigerator takes at least 20 hours
Neapolitan-style pizza has become synonymous with Italy. Credit Shutterstock
Neapolitan-style pizza has become synonymous with Italy. Credit Shutterstock

Makes enough dough for four 9-inch pizzas
590 grams (5 scant cups) bread flour
1¾ grams (1/2 rounded teaspoon) active dry yeast
380 grams (about 1 ½ cups) cold, filtered water
12 grams (2 teaspoons) sea salt

In a stand mixer bowl (with a dough hook), combine flour, yeast and cold water. Mix on lowest speed until the dough just comes together, and there is no dry flour in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to hydrate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Return bowl to stand mixer and mix on medium speed. Add the salt and mix for 20 minutes more to build strength, until the dough is very smooth and elastic.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Shape it into a tight ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at 39&ordmF to 41&ordmF for at least 20 hours and up to 30 hours.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface, allowing it to gently release from the bowl. Cut it into 4 equal pieces, weighing about 250 grams (9 ounces) each, with a dough scraper or knife.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, take the four corners and pull and fold them into the centre. Do not flatten. The dough will tighten up and take on a round shape. Flip the dough, seam-side down. Place your palm on top of the ball, resting thumb and pinkie against the sides and other fingertips on the counter. Gently move the ball in circles, taking care to prevent any tears to create a tight, even ball. Repeat this process with the remaining dough pieces. Place the shaped dough balls on a greased baking sheet.
Brush lightly with oil and cover the whole
baking sheet with plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature for about two hours, until the dough has nearly doubled in size.

When ready to bake, preheat the broiler to high and set an inverted baking sheet or a baking stone on the centre rack to preheat as well.

Place one dough ball on a well-floured surface, then sprinkle more flour on top. Starting from the centre, work the dough into a small disc by pushing your fingers flat into the dough, leaving the edge untouched. Flip over the disc and continue until you have a round disc about 8 inches in diameter.

To stretch the dough to the desired size, drape it over the back of your hands and knuckles, fingers bent inward. Gently rotate the dough, stretching it little
by little until it is around 12 inches in diameter.

Transfer the shaped dough to a pizza peel or a parchment paper&ndashlined inverted baking sheet. Top as desired and transfer the pizza to the preheated baking sheet or baking stone. Bake for four to six minutes, until the crust is lightly charred around the edges and the toppings are cooked. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Serve immediately.

Pro tip A baking stone will give your pizza a better crust, better volume, and incomparable lightness. If you do
not have one, an inverted baking sheet or unglazed quarry tiles will work as substitutes. For the best results, preheat the stone or inverted baking sheet on the centre rack for at least 45 minutes before baking your pizza. Recipe-cooking times depend on your baking surface and will be shorter if you use a stone.

Recipe by chef, author, and culinary historian Katie Parla

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