Pizza Margherita Recipe
The History of Pizza
Pizza is a part of Italy’s cultural human heritage. There were different pizza movements, especially during the 500s and 600s including a soft pizza dough served with cheese, basil leaves, and black pepper. The Modern era of pizza was born in 1700 in the region of Naples, Italy. However, the root of pizza goes back 3000 years with the creation of bread. There are several testimonials of this in ancient transcripts/books:
In “Napoli dintorni e contorni” (1830) a man named “Riccio” details a pizza served with tomato, mozzarella, and basil which was very famous in all social classes. In the beginning, pizza was served straight from the pizza oven as street food. Later, pizza was served in and from dedicated pizzerias.
In the book “Corricolo” (1843) written by Alexandre Dumas, he stated:
“Pizza is a kind of ‘stiacciata’ as if they do in Saint-Denis. It is round in shape and is made with the same dough as for bread: it varies in diameter according to price … At first glance it looks like simple food, it will look like a complicated food. The pizza is with oil, lard, suet, tomato, fish. “
In the “Usi e Costumi di Napoli” (1866) Francesco de Boucard describes the most typical pizzas:
Marinara, Margherita, and Calzone. The pizza was served with tomato, mozzarella, and basil. The mozzarella was cut in thin slices and arranged in the shape of a daisy.
Pizza in the U.S.
Pizza arrived in the U.S. in the 19th century as street food. It originally existed mostly in Italian neighborhoods in bigger cities with a large immigration population such as San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. In some cities, pizza ‘evolved’ into a different version of the food such as: New York style pizza, deep-dish pizza in Chicago, and rolled pizza in Philadelphia.
Pizza in Naples
Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli take pizza making very seriously. The purists say there are only two kinds of pizza: Marinara and Margherita, nothing else. These types of pizza must be cooked at a temperature of 435°C – 485°C and within 50-90 seconds.
The dough must be “worked” only by hand without the help of any tools. The tomato used for the tomato sauce must be San Marzano which grows at the bottom of Mount Vesuvio. The mozzarella must be Fior di Latte and the olive oil extra virgin.
Pizza Napoletana Dough Ingredients (Neapolitan Pizza)
- 1 kg flour, type 00
- 2 g fresh yeast
- 25 g sea salt
- 1 pinch Sugar
- 700 ml cold water
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pizza Margherita Tomato Sauce Ingredients (& Toppings)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 can 15 oz. San Marzano tomatoes
- 4 leaves of basil
- 2 pinch of salt
- 100g Mozzarella
- In a large bowl (or cuisinart) add the flour, yeast, and water. Mix by hand for 10 minutes (for cuisinart mix on level 3 for 5 minutes).
- While mixing add the salt and olive oil.
- Continue to mix for other 15 minutes until the pizza dough starts to become smooth (for cuisinart mix on level 3 for 7 minutes).
- Place in a container and cover with plastic wrap.
- Leave at room temperature for 3 hours.
- Cut the pizza dough into four 250g pieces. Form each piece into a ball.
- Place in a flat container with approximately 2″ between each piece (or you can place each dough in its own bowl). Cover with plastic wrap again and let continue to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.
- Put the pizza dough in the fridge for 24h.
- Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator 3 hours before planned use.
- While waiting, open the can of San Marzano tomatoes, pour into a medium bowl, and smash the tomatoes with your hands creating a ‘crushed’ texture.
- Add the basil and salt and stir. Set aside for at least 1 hour.
- If cooking in a gas/electric oven preheat to max temperature (usually 550F). For an outdoor oven the ideal temperature is 800F (430C). This is also when you’d preheat a pizza stone.
- Chop the mozzarella into approx. 1/4″ thin x 3/4″ chunks.
- Begin to form the pizza dough into a circle approximately 12″-14″ wide and place on metal pizza pan.
- Add 3-4 tbsp tomato sauce.
- Place in the oven.
- When the pizza is almost cooked (getting brown on the sides/bottom) add 1/4 of the mozzarella. Once the mozzarella has completely melted remove from oven.
- Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, cut, and serve!