Along with the Marinara, the Margherita Pizza represents the classic pizza of Naples. In fact, there are still places that only serve these two pizze. The Margherita is the world’s most iconic pizza.
TO ASSEMBLE / Place a large tile in your oven for the pizza, then preheat to full heat (without using any fan-forced function) for at least 20 minutes (see page 89). Hand squeeze the tomatoes; it doesn’t matter if there are pieces left and they’re not completely uniform. Spread onto the shaped pizza base, leaving the edges clear to about 3–4 cm (1½ inches). Thinly slice the mozzarella and scatter evenly, here and there, on the tomato. Place the basil leaves on top. Place the pizza in the oven for 3–5 minutes until cooked, turning to get an even colour. Remove and drizzle with the oil.
Makes one 30 cm (12 inch) pizza
Basic pizza dough Direct method
The direct method for producing pizza dough is the easiest because all the ingredients are mixed together at about the same time. This is the method that the large majority of pizza-makers use because it’s simple and quick.
For our recipes, however, we extend the maturation phase of the dough in the refrigerator so the final cooked pizza is easily digested and the flavour of the wheat maximised. Using an unrefined, stoneground whole-wheat (not wholemeal) flour is important because of its rich nutrients and the fact that it means less yeast is needed for fermentation and the maturation phase is thus more effective.
Fresh Yeast Dough
This recipe is for making pizza at home using ‘fresh’ or compressed yeast. Each 250 g (9 oz) ball of dough will make one 30 cm (12 inch) pizza, which feeds one person.
Place the flour and 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) of the water in a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Begin mixing on a low speed and keep mixing until the flour has absorbed all the water but is still not smooth. This should take only 3–4 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest in the bowl for 15–20 minutes.
Meanwhile, dissolve the yeast in the remaining water. Once the dough has rested, turn the mixer on to medium and add the dissolved yeast. Two minutes later, add the salt, mix for 2 minutes and then add the olive oil. Keep mixing until the dough is shiny and homogenous, about 6 minutes. Turn the speed up a little and mix for 2 minutes more.
A good way to check the elasticity is right is to stretch a piece of dough and if it forms a strong, transparent membrane without breaking (similar to blowing a bubble with gum), it is ready. Let the dough sit, covered with plastic wrap, for 30 minutes in winter or 15 minutes in summer. The dough is now ready to be shaped into balls and then rested further in the refrigerator before shaping into discs (see pages 80–83).
Makes 6 pizze (250 g/9 oz each)
Shaping Basic Dough into Balls
Shaping Basic Dough into Bases
Cooking basic dough
Shaped and topped, here you’ll find instructions for cooking your round pizze.
In a wood-fired oven
With the floor temperature between 360–400°C (680–750°F), a pizza will take around 90 seconds to cook. Some pizzaioli cook at temperatures up to 450°C (840°F) and this takes less time. The pizza is put directly on to the oven floor to cook, thereby getting an immediate ‘lift’.
In a domestic oven
My suggestion is to find a large terracotta tile that fits onto your oven rack. Place the rack on the bottom rung of your oven and the tile on top, giving you plenty of room above to manipulate the pizza. Turn to full heat without using any fan-forced function and let the oven run for at least 20 minutes to heat the tile completely. When the pizza is ready, use a floured paddle to take it from the bench on to the tile. Close the oven immediately.
At around 250–280°C (480–535°F) a pizza takes 3–5 minutes to cook, depending on your oven temperature. It will have a crisp, bread-like texture and should be no less delicious than the wood-fired version.
Images and recipes from New Pizza by Stefano Manfredi Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99