Cooking an authentic Neapolitan Pizza requires a lot of heat and not much time in your hands. An oven that can cook Neapolitan Pizzas will only need a minute or even less to cook one.
While there are a lot of affordable portable pizza ovens in the market such as the ones from Ooni, most of us own a basic home oven so here is how to cook a Neapolitan Pizza in one.
See, the standard heat needed for cooking Neapolitan Pizzas is at 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Home ovens reach 500 degrees Fahrenheit at most.
That is why the technique in making Neapolitan Pizza in a home oven is to cook it longer than with ovens that are equipped with such power and heat.
Neapolitan Pizzas goes back to its roots where pizza was seen as a food for the people at the lower ranks in the society. Now, it does not matter how rich or how poor you are – we all love pizza!
One common technique when making a Neapolitan Pizza is using a cast-iron skillet as your cooking surface instead of baking stones or parchment paper.
This is because the skillet heats up a lot and there is one detail that we will be pointing out later for you to see why cast-iron skillet in a home oven is one of the best choices.
So this post will give you a quick step-by-step process on how you can cook a Neapolitan Pizza in your ordinary home oven.
We will also be discussing the technique and its importance along the way so read on and maybe you will find some pointers that you can pick up and start practicing when you make your own pizza.
Keys to Perfecting a Neapolitan Pizza in A Home Oven
1. Crank up the Oven
One of the main keys to making a Neapolitan Pizza is to make sure that your oven hits its maximum temperature before putting the pizza in it.
The required temperature for cooking a Neapolitan Pizza is over 900 degrees Fahrenheit and since most home ovens cannot reach that, you will need to put your oven at max temperature.
2. Using a Baking Stone
If you choose to make a Neapolitan Pizza in a baking stone, whether it is cordierite or ceramic, you need to preheat the oven with the stone.
The stone is also another factor in making a Neapolitan Pizza. Biking stones are porous in nature so they take a lot of moisture.
If they are not preheated well, you might find it hard to make a pizza on them and the dough will just stick to the stone.
A regular-sized baking stone needs to heat up in order to dry out the dough and create a very crispy, crunchy finish on the crust.
Pizza inside a Home Oven is not done in one go
Since cooking Neapolitan Pizza in a Home Oven takes longer, it is possible that the ingredients especially vegetables will get overcooked.
That is why you need to put the ingredients that take longer to cook first in the oven. This will also make the crust better since it is cooked longer.
You need to see if the crust starts to make a golden brown color and then take it out of the oven. Put your cheese and other ingredients on the pizza and put it back inside the oven.
Wait for the cheese to bubble up and for the other ingredients to completely cook before taking them out of the oven and eating.
Always Push from the Middle…
When stretching your dough, you need to take note and never push or pull the borders of the dough. Always push from the middle so the edges puff up.
By pushing the middle, you put as much air as wells as dough on the edges so that they do not get burned easily.
This process will also give you that proper rising when the pizza is in the oven. The air bubbles puff up and the crust will be crispy.
Some people are talking about this hack to make your oven more powerful. The thing is, it is not really a hack since it has always been in your oven but it is not for cooking.
See, most of the home ovens that are available in the market have a self-cleaning feature. The self-cleaning feature that does not have steam is what you will need.
What happens when you turn the self-cleaning feature of your oven is that it pyrolyzes or burns the leftovers in your oven meaning it produces more heat than the regular cooking temperature.
Always be careful when doing this. You can turn the self-cleaning feature of your oven and then cook the pizza in it.
A self-cleaning oven will reach temperatures over 800 degrees Fahrenheit which is close enough to the required heat for Neapolitan pizza.
Do this and within a minute and a half, your pizza will be perfectly cooked.
So, to give you a better view, we will guide you on how to cook the pizza with the help of a recipe on a cast-iron skillet.
Let’s dive in!
-5 cups of bread flour
-Extra flour for your workspace
-Half teaspoon instant yeast
-380 grams of cold water
-2 teaspoons of salt
Step 1. Mix the flour, cold water, and the instant yeast in a bowl or a mixer. When using a mixer, make sure that you do not speed it up right away.
In fact, it is best if you mix these ingredients at the lowest speed of the mixer. This will be better and it is only to mix the ingredients, just make sure that there are no dry spots in the mix.
Step 2. Remove the dough from the mixer and cover it with plastic wrap. Bring it in a room and let it rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
Step 3. Return the dough to the mixer and then start mixing it again at low-medium speed. Add the salt and continue mixing until the dough is elastic enough.
This process of second mixing will add more flavor to your dough. The mixing time would usually take around 10 minutes for the dough to incorporate the salt evenly.
If you do not have a mixer then you need to proof and autolyze the dough with your hands in order to get the perfect pizza crust. Do not miss these parts else you would have a flat pizza crust and not the Neopolitan one which we want.
Step 4. Flour your workspace and place the dough there. Do not stretch it too much at this point, all you need to do is to shape it in a tight ball to prevent the air from escaping.
Step 5. Drizzle some olive oil in a clean bowl and brush it so the entire surface is thinly covered by oil.
Step 6. Place the dough in the bowl and then cover it with another plastic wrap. Place it in the back of your refrigerator for it to get to the coldest part and leave it refrigerated for at least a day.
Step 7. Lightly flour your workspace and then place the dough there after one day. Make sure to let it rest for at least 2 hours at room temperature before proceeding to the next step.
Step 8. This part is where you are going to start moving the dough. Once the dough is rested, you will need to divide it into four parts with about 250 grams each.
While doing so, you can lightly oil a baking sheet on the side.
Step 9. Work with one portion at a time. Remember, there is no need to rush. Pull the corners toward the center and then make sure that they attach.
The dough will have a natural reaction of tightening itself so all you need to do is to make balls from the portions that you have separated.
Step 10. Place the ball on your workspace by flipping it upside down so the seams go under the dough. Cup it with your palm and start moving it around to make a more even, tight ball of dough.
Make sure that your hands are floured so that the dough will not stick on your hands. The key is to make a tight ball of dough so be gentle and try to avoid any tears on the dough.
Repeat this process with the remaining portions. If you only need to cook one pizza, then one dough is enough.
The rest of the dough can be kept in a zip-locked plastic bag and will last for a long time when they are frozen.
Now To The Cooking Part
So if you are done with the previous steps and you want to cook a Neapolitan Pizza on the same day, then you can follow these steps below.
Step 1. Get one of the balls and then brush it lightly with olive oil. Cover it with plastic wrap once again and then let it rest at room temperature.
You will need to be patient here as we would want the dough to rise at least double its initial size. You can chill for a bit as this process usually takes around 2 hours.
Step 2. 30 minutes before cooking the pizza, place your oven rack at the top and then crank the oven at its highest temperature.
If you want a more accurate temperature for this recipe, you can preheat your oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack 4 inches from the broiler of the oven.
Now we get to the pizza itself…
Step 3. Flour your workspace and then place the dough on it. Flour your dough as well and then start shaping the dough.
It should be at least 8 inches when done. Take note that shaping the dough should be from the center of the dough and the edges should be left untouched.
Do the shaping with your hands and do not use a rolling pin. Your fingers should push from the center of the dough to spread the air bubbles evenly throughout the crust.
By the time you are finishing the shaping process, the dough should be flat and measure about 8 inches in diameter.
Step 4. Preheat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on your stove at medium heat. Let it stay there for about 5 minutes before stretching the dough.
Make sure that the broiler of your oven will turn on by releasing some heat from the oven. This is applicable for electric ovens.
Open the oven doors for about ten seconds to let the heat escape and then turn the broilers on and crank it up to high.
Step 5. Stretching the dough. The first step in stretching is to place the dough on top of your hands with both your hands at the center of the dough.
Rotate the dough on your hand for it to start stretching. Be gentle in doing this to make sure that you do not create tears on the dough.
Stretch the dough until it is about ten inches in diameter.
Step 6. Carefully place the dough on the skillet and then stretch the dough further by sliding and shaking the skillet until it has fully covered the bottom of the skillet.
Step 7. Spread your pizza sauce on the dough leaving about half an inch from the edge of the dough. Do not put your cheese right away.
You can use any topping that you like. If you are using meat, make sure that you have cooked them halfway through before placing them on the dough.
Step 8. While the skillet is hot, leave the dough on it for at least 30 seconds to make sure that the bottom is cooking to create more crisp on the crust later on.
Step 9. Transfer the skillet to the oven and let it cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Halfway through cooking, place your cheese on top.
You should do this with the cheese to make sure that it does not get burned. You should also rotate the skillet once you put the cheese to make sure that the crust has even browning.
Step 10. Take the pizza out of the oven. Using a spatula, carefully run it through the sides of the skillet to loosen up the pizza.
Scoop it out of the skillet and on to the workspace. Slice the pizza and enjoy your Neapolitan Pizza made from your home oven!
A Few Notes and Reminders
When you want to cook pizza again and you want to use the frozen dough balls, make sure to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight for initial rising.
The second rising is when you take the dough ball out of the refrigerator and then let it rest at room temperature.
The frozen dough can last for at least a month so you can still use it whenever you want to cook another set of Neapolitan pizza.
If you have vegetable toppings, you will need to cook them shorter than the pizza itself. You can place the vegetable toppings on the pizza when it is about to finish cooking so they do not get burned.
Neapolitan Pizza is a little harder to cook especially if you do not have a powerful oven that can reach up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most home ovens cannot reach this so you need to improvise and see what you can do to cook a great pizza at lower temperatures.
The technique above also requires a detailed process to make sure that everything goes as planned. You can follow it and practice a lot to perfect the recipe.
Remember to always adjust the toppings according to the speed and heat that they need to be cooked in. Meat toppings take longer to cook than vegetables.
The dough is also key to making a great Neapolitan Pizza. You need to be careful about the number of ingredients you put in and remember to always let it rise and not to hurry it up.
Making a Neapolitan Pizza in a home oven requires more patience and is more difficult so do not be too hard on yourself if you do not perfect it in the first try.
Just keep on practicing and eventually, you are going to make a perfect Neapolitan Pizza in a home oven in no time!
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