Mastering Neapolitan Pizza, the Pie That Ignited a Culinary Revolution

Learning these six common mistakes will help you become a better Neapolitan pizza critic, and maker.

Perhaps the most famous (and delicious) stamp Naples, Italy has put on the world is their Neapolitan pizza.

Unlike many styles of pizza you can find in America, pizza napoletana is prepared with simple and fresh ingredients: a simple dough, raw tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and olive oil.

A true Neapolitan pizza can’t be cooked in a traditional oven. Instead, you’ll need a true, wood-fired, brick oven pizza.

If you happen to be one of the fortunate few that have invested in putting one of these in your backyard, these tips will help you become the pizza chef your famiglia will rave about at Sunday supper.

If not, you can use this knowledge to become a more informed pizza critic the next time you visit your favorite Italian restaurant.

These are 6 errori nel fare la pizza napolentana, or the 6 most common mistakes when making Neapolitan pizza:

  1. Panetto Secco (Dry dough): this is caused by not covering the dough container. Dry dough is more difficult to knead. Once it’s taken out of the oven, the toppings move toward the center, leaving large, dry crusts.
  2. Panetto non Lievitato (Dough is not risen): Dough that hasn’t risen will also create problems with kneading and spreading the dough out. When it’s taken out of the oven, the pizza will be flat and compressed.
  3. Panetto Freddo (Dough was kneaded, topped and cooked straight out of the refrigerator): Cold dough that hasn’t been subject to room temperature to warm is difficult to spread out. This also causes a negative chemical reaction where pizza will rise but shows a series of burnt, black dots.
  4. Panetto Collassato (Dough is collapsed): This means the dough has its own growth, stability, and then “dies.” After 18 hours, dough loses its strength and toughness from lack of gluten lattice. This causes the dough to be flimsy. When it’s cooked, it’ll come out flimsy and so thin that it flakes apart.
  5. Panetto Umido (Dough has excessive moisture): Too much moisture in the air or a lack of flour when preparing the dough causes it to stick when kneading it. Adding more flour to help with the kneading process causes negative effects in the cooking phase. When it’s done, the pizza will have an unwanted sour taste. The extra flour will also cause the pizza to burn on the bottom.
  6. Errori Nella Cottura (Mistakes in cooking the pizza): The two main mistakes made in the cooking phase is either the oven’s temperature is too low, or the oven’s temperature is too high. Both create an equal amount of problems. A pizza put in an oven with a temperature that is too low will lose its moisture and be too crisp. A pizza put in an oven with a temperature that is too high will burn out.

Click here for a delicious Neapolitan pizza recipe.

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