Sunday suppers just got a modern makeover thanks to some old-school homemade Neapolitan pizza dough and our no-cook San Marzano pizza sauce. No need for a wood-fired oven or trip to Italy! Fire up your home oven, add a ceramic pizza stone and you can have the perfect Neapolitan pizza with an authentically chewy crust, crisp bottom and amazing flavor in under 10 minutes.
This is going to sound like I'm bragging but it's really more of an irony. The first time I ate authentic Neapolitan pizza was in Italy. The irony is that my grandma Nina was born in Naples and while her homemade potato gnocchi remains legendary, I don't ever recall her making homemade pizza for us.
p.s. Grandma Josie did, but hers was of the sheet pan pizza variety, designed to feed a crew.
Maybe it's because, to Nina, Neapolitan pizza was common food. Food meant as sustenance and survival and part of her daily life. Back then, Neapolitan pizza wasn't celebratory food or Sunday supper kind of food; it was nutrition.
Boy, am I ever glad things have changed and to see Neapolitan pizza get the comeuppance it deserves!
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What is Neapolitan pizza?
Wood-fired in a flaming 800˚ hot pizza oven, Neapolitan pizza was born in Naples, Italy and exists today under the strictest guidelines of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, known as VPN.
There are a few "international regulations" around Napolitan pizza (as it's sometimes called). Neapolitan pizza should have a:
- roundish shape and max diameter of around 13.5"
- raised edge
- crust that is soft and fragrant.
I love the fact that Italy has entire associations around setting standards for and protecting traditional recipes! Just like they do with San Marzano tomatoes.
Ingredients for authentic Neapolitan pizza dough
While the ingredients for Neapolitan pizza dough are pretty much what you'd expect (flour, yeast, salt and water), the hydration is what matters.
Hydration refers to the ratio between the flour and the water and it's at the heart of this chewy pizza crust with the raised edge.
Neapolitan pizza hydration
And yes there are standards for hydration. Hydration is the percentage of water to flour and hydration for Neapolitan pizza dough is between 58-65%.
For this Naples pizza dough recipe, we are right around 62%
What kind of flour?
"00" or "0" flour which is a powdery white flour. We want a soft wheat flour as opposed to a hard wheat flour (such as King Arthur's "00" pizza flour -usually one of my favs but not for this recipe).
Antimo Caputo "00" Chefs Flour is my go-to here.
Yeast options for homemade pizza
You'll see several kinds of yeast when you go to the refrigerated section of the store or order it online.
In Italy, most classic Neapolitan pizzas are made with fresh yeast (sometimes called cake yeast). It is the most fermented so therefore flavorful but also the hardest to work with and quickest shelf life.
Active dry yeast is one you're likely familiar with as it requires proofing in a mixture of precise warm water and sugar.
Instant yeast (Saf-instant Yeast is the best) is what we are using here and is my favorite as it's fairly foolproof.
The last kind of yeast is fast-rising yeast which I don't recommended for this pizza dough recipe because it doesn't create as much fermentation (translated: it doesn't taste as good).
How to make Neapolitan pizza in your home oven
The earlier parts of this post might have felt like you went to pizza university.
By the end of this post and recipe, you're going to have graduated with honors in the art of Neapolitan pizza making.
Here's what you'll do:
Pizza Dough Rising Time
Neapolitan pizza dough can rise up to 24 hours (place it in the fridge if you choose to do this).-Josie + Nina
Must-have homemade pizza making tools
Large mixing bowls. One of my favorite kitchen tools from my days working at Williams-Sonoma is this 10 piece set of glass mixing bowls. Great for rising pizza dough. (Talk about a great bridal or wedding gift too!)
Pizza peel. When it comes to pizza peels, one is great and 2 is better, especially when making multiple pizzas like you will for breakfast pizza. I use both this wooden pizza peel (similar to the one linked) and this Epicurean pizza peel in tandem. So good!
Stone or steel. I use these Emile Henry ceramic pizza stones and they help make the BEST crispy pizza crust ever! You preheat them at 500˚ for 20 minutes or so and pop your pizza on them using a peel. Crispy pizza (even in the center) in 10 minutes!
Pizza cutter. I have a Cutco pizza cutter that is a gem but also love these long rocker pizza cutters that come in different versions.
"00" flour. While "00" flour isn't necessarily a tool, it makes the best homemade pizza dough. This post on homemade ravioli dough shares more info on "00" flour.
Nice to have
Stand mixer. A stand mixer is a pizza maker's dream helping with mixing and kneading leaving you time to work on the toppings. My 7qt. KitchenAid Mixer is my go-to but I'm also a fan of any size!
Keys to baking a pizza in your home oven
While it would be nice to have a wood-fired pizza oven in the backyard, Chicago and cold weather doesn't always cooperate with that dream.
Instead, place the rack of your oven to the center position and heat on 500˚. If you have a "convection bake" or "pure convection" setting and are comfortable using it, give that a go.
Place a baking stone or pizza peel on the center rack and allow to heat for at least 20 minutes.
Make ahead pizza tips
If you're going to make pizza dough, you might as well make a double (or triple) batch, right?
I'm all about pizza logic.
Freeze any unbaked dough wrapped in plastic wrap and then place in freezer safe bags for up to 3 months. Defrost on the counter or in the fridge overnight until the dough has relaxed and looks ready.
Neapolitan pizza dough toppings
The classic Pizza Margherita, is only fresh mozzarella, fresh tomato sauce and fresh basil.
And not a lot of each of those! It's all about the crust.
Common pizza dough challenges
My dough didn't rise!
That, my friend, means your yeast isn't active. Make sure that it's not expired and it hasn't come in contact with the salt initially when mixed in.
The crust keeps "springing back" and won't get bigger.
Walk away! You and the dough need a break. Give it 5-10 minutes and it'll relax.
Help! I made a hole in the dough!
Gently pick up one side of the hole and pull it over the other and lightly press for them to stick.
Made this recipe?
I'd love it if you'd share your review and leave a star rating and comment!
Oven-baked Neapolitan Pizza Dough
- 600 g Antimo Caputos "00" soft wheat flour, about 3 ¼ cups
- 372 g water, a hair more that 1 ½ cups
- 12 g sea salt, 2 ½ teaspoons
- 9 g yeast , 2 ¼ teaspoon
- cornmeal, for the pizza peel
For the Margherita pizza sauce (Neapolitan pizza sauce)
- ½ lb fresh mozzarella
- fresh basil leaves
- olive oil, for drizzling
- kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- To a large mixing bowl add the water. Pour in the salt and mix until dissolved.
- Add the flour followed by the yeast and mix with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
- Continue bringing the dough together with your hands until everything is incorporated. The dough will not be smooth and that's ok! Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes until it comes together.
- Allow the dough to relax for 5 minutes. Pour yourself a beverage.
- Knead it one more time for about 2 minutes after which you'll have a nice smooth ball. If you don't, let it rest again and hang out and try one more time.
- Place the dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and then a clean dishtowel and allow to rise for anywhere from 4-8 hours. You can even do this overnight. It won't hurt the dough to sit in the fridge even for up to 24 hours (I did this and the flavor of the crust was incredible!).
When ready to bake the pizza
- Set the oven rack in the center of the oven and add a baking stone to accommodate a 13" pizza.
- Preheat the oven to 500˚. You can use convection here.
- After the rising time is up, flour a clean countertop or cutting board with the same "00" flour. Turn the dough onto the board and form it into a disc that is the same thickness.
- Using your fingers, gently pat on the dough in the center, lightly using your fingertips to push the dough outwards. Work your way around the dough to make a circle. Leave a 1" raised edge. The ultimate goal is about 13" in diameter which will fit your pizza stone and peels.
- Transfer the pizza dough to a pizza peel that has been heavily sprinkled with cornmeal.
- In a medium bowl, crush the tomatoes with your hands until smaller pieces are made. Mix in olive oil and sea salt. Stir to combine.
- Start with ½ cup of tomato sauce at a time and spread on on the pizza crust, not touching the rim.
- Break up pieces of fresh mozzarella and scatter over pizza. Season with salt and pepper.
- Carefully shimmy the pizza off the peel on to the stone in the preheated oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Remove from oven when golden and crispy.
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on some fresh sliced basil. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing. Mangia!