Here’s the Recipe for the Authentic Italian Pizza!
For the dough:
– 1 kilo of all purpose flour (8 cups);
– 600 ml of water (2.5 cups);
– 30 gr of coarse sea salt (1.05 oz);
– 1/4 tsp of instant yeast or 3/4 tsp (2 gr) of fresh yeast;
For the base toppings:
– 2 cans of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, 800 grams or 28 oz;
– 8 balls of fresh Mozzarella, preferably Fior di Latte, about 100 grams each or 3.5 oz;
– extra virgin olive oil;
– fresh basil leaves;
– capers in salt;
– anchovy fillets in oil;
– salt, to taste.
Kneading the Pizza Dough
Mix the salt with the lukewarm water in a large bowl, using a spatula or a wooden spoon.
Add 100 gr (3.5 oz) of flour and create a homogeneous mixture.
Dissolve the yeast in the solution. Once the yeast is well mixed, add the remaining flour, little by little, and incorporate to the mixture.
Mix well with your spatula, and keep adding flour until the dough becomes harder and starts to form a ball.
When the dough will be almost impossible to mix with the spoon or the spatula, you may transfer it onto a kneading board and gradually incorporate the remaining flour with your hands. With a stand mixer, mount the hook attachment, add all the remaining flour and set your device on low speed.
Knead the dough for approximately 20 minutes.
Stop kneading when the dough does not stick to the hands so much, and the flour is finished.
At this stage, your pizza dough looks fat and feels velvety to the touch, it has to be extensible but not very elastic.
Let it rest in a bowl, covered with cling film or a wet cloth for 2 hours, at around 25 ºC or 77 ºF. When the gluten has relaxed, put the dough back on the kneading board and shape its mass into a ball.
To make one big tray of pizza in your kitchen oven, let’s say about 30×38 cms (12×15 inches), the amount of dough needed would be around 500 gr (1.1 lbs).
Work your big ball into a cylinder, so it will be easier to later stretch it into the rectangular shape of a baking tray.
To create the classic round pizzas, you will have to divide the dough into 8-9 balls.
Every ball of dough should weight between 180 to 250 gr (6.3 to 8.8 oz).
You may place the balls of dough in a closed plastic container or let them rest on the kneading board with a sprinkle of flour on top .
After about 4 to 6 hours they will leaven again and double in size.
The balls of dough need to be used within the next 6 hours after the second leavening!
Preparation & Baking
Start your wood-fired oven and prepare it for baking.
The optimal temperature is around 350 to 370 °C (660 to 700 °F).
Considering not many have a traditional pizza oven at home, you can alternatively heat up your kitchen oven at 240°C or 475°F, gas mark 9. In this case, spread some oil on your baking tray, to prevent the pizza dough from sticking to its surface.
Just before the 4-6 hours necessary for the second leavening have passed, open the cans of premium whole peeled tomatoes, ideally from San Marzano and with no citric acid as preservative, put their content in a blender and season with salt to taste.
Pour the tomato sauce in a bowl and set aside. Don’t forget to use a big spoon when you will dress the dough with it.
Rinse the mozzarella fior di latte from its water and put it in a separate bowl.
You may cut it in stripes, or chop it coarsely. Alternatively, you can simply tear it by hand when dressing your pizza.
Wash the capers to remove the excess salt and drain the anchovy fillets from the oil. Prepare the fresh basil and any other additional ingredient for your toppings in individual containers, ready for use. Have salt and extra virgin olive oil at hand.
To create your round pizzas, sprinkle the board with flour and work each of your balls in a circular motion to form a disc, stretching the dough evenly with your fingers at the same time. Avoid any tearing and push delicately from the centre outwards, to move the air bubbles trapped in the dough towards the rim. This will create beautiful and tall borders on your pizza!
Gradually stretch the cylinder for the large tray of pizza with your fingers, using the same procedure, till you reach the desired dimension.
Once the dough of your big pizza is extended almost to the size of your tray, simply transfer it there and stretch to its borders.
Either way, use only your hands to stretch the dough!
A rolling pin will not allow you to obtain a nice crust, since it will unnecessarily toughen the dough by squeezing out the air bubbles trapped in its texture.
It is preferable not to fully stretch your round pizza, so that you can transfer them on the baking tray, or on the metal peel, more easily and stretch them a bit further there.
Leave slightly taller edges along the rim of each pizza, so the toppings won’t fall out.
Dress the pizza bases with tomato sauce and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, generously cover with chopped or hand torn fresh mozzarella and finish with your desired toppings.
The fully flavoured Margherita con capperi comes only with capers and fresh basil leaves on top of tomato sauce and mozzarella, while Napoletana is with capers and anchovies. More elaborated toppings like funghi (mushrooms), fresh zucchine, full flavoured cheeses and charcuterie are added either to a base of mozzarella and tomato sauce or to plain mozzarella. Whatever pizza you decide to make, the key for an authentic Italian Pizza is hidden in the quality of the raw ingredients used for its preparation.
Remember to transfer your pizza to the metal peel, or tray, and bake immediately after dressing it…otherwise the dough will get soggy and you’ll end up with holes on your pizza!
In a ventilated kitchen oven, place the tray with your big rectangular pizza at the bottom and bake for 8-10 minutes.
In a hot wood-fired oven, one pizza can cook for as little as 1 to 2 minutes!
Make sure you move the pizza with the metal peel, to bake it evenly on all sides.
Once the bottom is slightly browning and the mozzarella is blistering, take the pizza out and let it rest for a second, to avoid burning yourself.
Your authentic Italian Pizza is ready to be eaten!