Author Topic: Looking for suggestions and comments on my pizza "neapolitano"  (Read 846 times)

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Offline DeanS

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After lurking for months, I'm going to post. I hope this doesn't become another addiction ;-)

I am calling this Neapolitan though I am using regular flour and 6 in 1 tomatoes (thanks to this forum). I would like to switch to 00 flour but I am using a conventional oven with a stone - impossible?

I'm not sure if the attachments will work; here are links to the images:
Image: Pizza "Neapolitano"
Image: Crumb

Anyways, here is my recipe. I'd love to hear recommendations, too.

Dough
  • ¼ Tsp Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Cup Lukewarm Water
  • ½ Cup Flour, Sifted
Mix thoroughly in a mixing bowl and let proof for 20 minutes (should get frothy)
  • 1 Tbsp Sea Salt
  • 2 Cups of Flour, Sifted
Mix salt and then flour into solution until dough does not stick to sides of bowl.
  • ½ Cup Flour, Sifted
Sift ½ cup flour onto surface and turn dough ball out onto surface. Knead only until lumps are gone. Form two balls and place each into an oiled bowl with locking lid (or a ceramic bowl with cling wrap). Let sit for 30 minutes before placing in refrigerator to ferment for 3-5 days.

Sauce
  • 28 Ounces (1 Can) All purpose ground 6 in 1 Tomatoes in extra heavy puree
  • 1 Tbsp Anise seed
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
Mix seasoning into can of tomatoes. Separate into 4 oz containers and freeze 6 of these containers for later use.

Pizza
  • Dough Ball
  • 2 oz Sauce
  • 4 oz Mozzarella Cheese
  • 2 oz Parmesan Cheese
  • Pizza Seasoning (crushed red pepper, garlic powder, pepper, basil, oregano, rosemary)
Place pizza stone on lowest rack and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove dough ball from refrigerator and let warm to room temperature on top of stove. Turn dough ball out onto floured surface and gently compress it, then return to container and cover. Let rise on top of preheated oven.

Once dough has risen, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Gently turn dough onto floured surface and use fists to stretch dough against surface by pulling from the center. Use fingertips to make a ring of indentations around the outside of the dough, about ¾” from the outside. Continue to pull dough by draping one side of the dough on your fists and rolling the dough, allowing gravity to stretch the dough until it has reached desired size and thickness. Place dough on pizza peel.

Apply Sauce, cheese and seasoning. Change temperature on oven to 550 degrees. Wait for the heating element to switch on and then transfer pizza to the stone. Bake for about 8 minutes, remove from oven and set for 10 minutes before cutting & serving.

Brands
These are the brands I'm using right now.
  • Flour: Gold Seal Regular (just switched to King Arthur regular, hoping to try an 00 type though)
  • Yeast: Fleischmann's Active Dry
  • Honey: Gunter's Pure - Tupelo (local / Berryville, VA brand)
  • Tomatoes: 6 in 1 All Purpose Ground Tomatoes in extra heavy purée
  • Mozzarella: BelGioioso
  • Parmesan: BelGioioso

I've read people say that BelGioioso is not a good brand, but I've also read that good Mozz. sweats - and this  is the only brand I've found that matches this description. Other brands I've tried haven't been as good - any tips? Also, is this making my pizza watery? Would a less sweaty cheese fix this? Or should I simply crumble / drain the cheese before grating onto the Pizza?


Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Looking for suggestions and comments on my pizza "neapolitano"
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2013, 04:39:29 PM »
I think your pies look really good. There is only so much you can do to achieve Neapolitan attributes in a home oven without resorting to oven mods (NOT recommended) or specialized techniques which your oven may or may not be capable of.

A couple thoughts/comments - use or ignore as you like:

- You really need to use a scale. The weight of a cup of flour can vary by 20% or more depending on how you measure it. It's hard to know what you're making and improve if you really don't know what you are putting in.
- Your salt is likely a bit higher than typical. It looks like you are near 3.6% (but that is just a guess - you need a scale). I rarely see over 3.0%
- I would not bother with 00 flour (save your money to buy a scale) - you won't gain anything from 00 and you will lose some of what precious little color you can get in a home oven. I used KAAP with great results up to temps of 750F. It's only at 900F+ where I would suggest using 00.
- Honey is not typical in a Neapolitan dough. This may be the first time I've seen it. I wouldn't want that flavor in a Neapolitan crust. If you need sugar for browning, I'd suggest plain white sugar.
- Anise and basil are not commonin a Neapolitan sauce - just tomato, salt, and perhaps some sugar if needed.
- Pizza seasoning is not typical on Neapolitan pizza. Individual pies might call for certain herbs and spices, but I would avoid pre-mixed seasonings. The company mixing the spices doesn't know what you pie needs. Further, I can't think of a time garlic powder would ever belong on a Neapolitan pie.
- Preheat at 550 until you are sure the stone is fully saturated with heat and never turn the thermostat down until you are done baking.
- Your dough should not need to rise before baking - all you should need to do is let it come up to room temp (at least 2 hours) and open it. If it does need to rise before baking, you have a problem with your formula or fermentation schedule.
- I always drain mozzarella that is packed in water. Tear or cut it up and let it rest in the fridge between layers of paper towels. Depending on how fresh it is and how wet it looks, I might let it drain anywhere from 2-8 hours.
- I would serve almost immediately after baking. Why let it rest to get cold, rubbery cheese, hard crust in some places and soggy in others?
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Chicago Bob

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Re: Looking for suggestions and comments on my pizza "neapolitano"
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2013, 05:27:29 PM »
Hey Dean,
Welcome to the forum Pizza Pal! Your pies look great and I like the special 'lil spices you add here and there to achive the flavor you like.
Yes, that Bela-lagosi  :) cheese is not really all that great...see if you can spring for some of the good stuff once and I'll bet that will make your pizzas taste a whole lot better man. 8)  Keep up the good work and keeping us informed of your progress, thanks!  :chef:

Bob
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline DeanS

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Re: Looking for suggestions and comments on my pizza "neapolitano"
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2013, 09:00:22 PM »
I think your pies look really good. There is only so much you can do to achieve Neapolitan attributes in a home oven without resorting to oven mods (NOT recommended) or specialized techniques which your oven may or may not be capable of.
The only "mod" I've done to my oven is to replace the baking element when some stray cheese fell on it and burnt it out.  :-[ We were lucky that our house came with a GE that goes up to 550 degrees, not pushing that luck...


- You really need to use a scale. The weight of a cup of flour can vary by 20% or more depending on how you measure it. It's hard to know what you're making and improve if you really don't know what you are putting in.
Yes, you're right, and I am one of those people who love precision so I understand completely. If I were doing a batch bake or putting together a formal recipe, I would be very inclined to set out some precise measurements, but for casual pizza management, I usually go buy imperial volume measure. At least I'm more precise than Tscarborough (his pizzas look delicious, anyways)!

As I refine my dough, I will put together some mass meas. I realize now how hard it is to compare dough processes without that.

- Honey is not typical in a Neapolitan dough. This may be the first time I've seen it. I wouldn't want that flavor in a Neapolitan crust. If you need sugar for browning, I'd suggest plain white sugar.
I actually started using honey because I thought it would disburse more well in dough, especially if I am using fermentation with minimal kneading. Although I think I am tasting the honey in the final product, and I think you're right - it is not good. I'll save that for bread doughs in the future.

- Anise and basil are not commonin a Neapolitan sauce - just tomato, salt, and perhaps some sugar if needed.
- Pizza seasoning is not typical on Neapolitan pizza. Individual pies might call for certain herbs and spices, but I would avoid pre-mixed seasonings. The company mixing the spices doesn't know what you pie needs. Further, I can't think of a time garlic powder would ever belong on a Neapolitan pie.
These have all been my own creations (with the help of some research) though I admit I am not really set on either of these. At some point I plan on making as pure a Neapolitan as possible, but for the most part I make pizza for my wife, family and friends, who prefer bolder flavors.

- Preheat at 550 until you are sure the stone is fully saturated with heat and never turn the thermostat down until you are done baking.
- Your dough should not need to rise before baking - all you should need to do is let it come up to room temp (at least 2 hours) and open it. If it does need to rise before baking, you have a problem with your formula or fermentation schedule.

- I always drain mozzarella that is packed in water. Tear or cut it up and let it rest in the fridge between layers of paper towels. Depending on how fresh it is and how wet it looks, I might let it drain anywhere from 2-8 hours.
- I would serve almost immediately after baking. Why let it rest to get cold, rubbery cheese, hard crust in some places and soggy in others?
In fact, the mozzarella issue - if BelGioioso is indeed the culprit - is not apparently packed in water, but seems to sweat, and the fluid on the pizza contributes to a floppier middle crust (usually only about 1/5th of the total pizza footprint) and my ambivalence to cut and serve right away. By the time I have used the last quarter of the mozz pack, there is just as much or more water in the bag as there was when I first opened it, despite draining the bag before I return it to the fridge each time. Unless I try a different cheese for tomorrow's bake, I'll try draining the cheese this time!  ::)

Hey Dean,
Welcome to the forum Pizza Pal! Your pies look great and I like the special 'lil spices you add here and there to achive the flavor you like.
Yes, that Bela-lagosi  :) cheese is not really all that great...see if you can spring for some of the good stuff once and I'll bet that will make your pizzas taste a whole lot better man. 8)  Keep up the good work and keeping us informed of your progress, thanks!  :chef:

Bob

The problem is... I don't know how to tell what is good! I have been wary of the "cheap" and generic brands but from what I have read, many here seem to really like them. I plan to try grande and/or polly-o, but are there other suggestions for brands you might have? Or, what in general should I look for?


Thanks to both of you for the tips; I've followed your posts here and they are very thoughtful and informative.

Offline wahoo88

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Re: Looking for suggestions and comments on my pizza "neapolitano"
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2013, 09:11:42 PM »
Baking in the oven you are, you may want to keep just a small amount of honey/sugar, as it may help facilitate browning and charring.  It looks like you are getting only minimal browning on the top, but we'd have to see the undercarriage to make sure that it isn't cooking unevenly.  If the rest of the voices disagree, listen to them though.

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Looking for suggestions and comments on my pizza "neapolitano"
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2013, 09:56:23 PM »
Pardon me, my recipes are precise, but they are precise to the eye and the hand, not a cold dumb instrument.  The identical batch of milled flour in 2 places separated by a county will require a different amount of water for proper hydration on any given day for a scaled amount of flour.  Recipes are the framework upon which a  cook prepares a meal. 

Slavish devotion to a scaled recipe will provide less repeatability than learning what it should look like and feel like at any stage of preparation.