Aficionados of pizza know that the Neapolitan style is the only real pizza. Otherwise why in 2009 would Italy have gone to the trouble of safeguarding Neapolitan pizza in the European Union as a traditional speciality guaranteed cuisine?
Put simply, it’s the best and it ought to be protected from those peddling bread with topping as ‘authentic pizza’. There are even a number of pizzeria’s in Melbourne and Sydney who have gone to the trouble of being accredited by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana or the Association of True Neapolitan Pizza. They wouldn’t do that if they didn’t think it was worth the investment.
With the rise in popularity of pizza across the world, a plethora of different interpretations have emerged and today pizza can resemble anything from a Bakers Delight bun, to what the Pizza Hut offer, or even a café serving focaccia with topping and labelling it as pizza. I deliberately used the word resemble. Even within Italy there exist regional differences in styles, toppings and cooking techniques however true lovers of pizza believe there really is only one style of authentic pizza – the Neapolitan one.
It’s 00 or the highway!
Some of the ways in which we abide by Neapolitan pizza cooking techniques is through the flour we use – it has to be 00 which is a finely milled flour with clear parameters around protein and moisture hold for dough elasticity. In our pizzeria we use Divella Napoletana – a flour specifically designed for Neapolitan pizza.
Good food takes time!
Another key aspect in our pizza making process is the long rise. We use very little yeast in our pizza dough and ensure that it proves over eight to ten hours. The amount of fresh yeast used varies depending on temperature and humidity and there’s no real formula for getting this right other than experience and inherent knowledge of the process. By limiting the yeast content and letting nature take its course, the result is a light base that achieves the requisite crunch. After eating you shouldn’t feel heavy or bloated, rather light and satisfied.
Rolling pins are banned!
Each ball is then ‘stretched’ and placed on a paddle ready for topping. Authentic Neapolitan pizza stipulates that no rolling pins are to be used and that’s where the skill is. Ever tried to stretch a pizza base without a rolling pin? Try doing it in a commercial environment where speed is imperative.
If you can’t stand the heat, better get out of the kitchen!
Finally, after the base has been topped, another key aspect of our pizza is cooking at the right temperature. Our oven is what is known as a Pompeii style oven – none of this kit stuff that you buy from your local hardware store. The dome has multiple layers of special insulation to ensure that once the temperature is up, it can be retained. On an average night we’re cooking pizzas at somewhere between 400 – 450 degrees. If we’re having a really busy night and pumping out pizzas it’s not unusual to be cooking at 500 degrees. At this temperature, each pizza is going into the oven for approximately 90 seconds.
So there you have it – some of the aspects of the authentic Neapolitan pizza process. If you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to send them through. Otherwise stay tuned to this blog for more news and tidbits about Bella Fresca Pizzera and/or pizza making in general!