How to Make Neapolitan-Style Pizza
This Neapolitan pizza stole our hearts. First of all, it’s so easy: The dough needs almost nothing from you. A couple of rises, a handful of minutes in the mixer, a night in the fridge to ferment, and you’re in the pizza business. Second, you don’t need a wood-fired oven to do it right. A simple pizza stone, in a simple oven, will transform the dough into a light, unbelievably crispy pizza with a golden-brown crust — charred in spots and delightfully chewy.
By definition, Neapolitan pizzas are not fancy or fussy. We’ve included ingredients for two of our favorites, and they come to 3 ingredients each, including the red sauce. It’s all about the ratio: the crust is very flavorful, and all it needs is a few simple, fresh ingredients to be amazing. The Margherita is just red sauce — we like ours with a red pepper kick — basil, and islands of melty, fresh mozzarella. The pepperoni, our kids’ favorite, has a thicker coating of shredded mozzarella, and it’s dotted with small, bite-size rounds of the smoky spiced meat.
Neapolitan pizza dough is make-ahead, and it bakes in minutes, so you could throw it together in the middle of the week for your family. Wednesday is for pizza and a salad. That said, pizza this good will always be a special occasion. For the kid’s next birthday, make up a few batches of dough, and let them order up their own pizza toppings. Just remember, keep it simple.
Our tip: the pizza dough does need to ferment, so make it a full 24 hours before you want to make pizza.
For the pizza dough:
1 ⅛ cups warm water (115º), divided
3 ¼ cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
½ tsp sugar
¾ tsp dry active yeast
1 ½ tsp salt
For the pizzas:
2 Tbsp bread flour
1 Neapolitan pizza dough ball
1 cup of your favorite pizza sauce, divided
Semolina flour, for dusting the peel
Margherita pizza toppings:
8 oz fresh mozzarella
½ cup basil
Pepperoni pizza toppings:
8 oz whole milk mozzarella, shredded
1 cup sliced pepperoni
Special equipment: pizza peel and 14-inch pizza stone
To make the pizza dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, use a rubber spatula to fold together 1 cup of the warm water and the bread flour, until they’re fully combined. Cover the mixing bowl with a damp towel for 60 minutes.
With about 10 minutes remaining, in a separate small bowl, hand whisk together the remaining ⅛ cup warm water, sugar, and yeast, and let it stand for 10 minutes.
Add the yeast mixture and salt to the dough and mix with a dough hook on medium-low speed for 5 minutes. The dough should be tacky but not sticky. If it seems too wet, add a tablespoon or two of flour.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Form it into a ball, dust it with flour, place it in a clean mixing bowl, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Let it rise for one hour at room temperature.
Transfer the dough to the refrigerator to ferment for 18 to 24 hours.
To make the pizzas: An hour before baking, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 550º with the rack in the second position from the top.
Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest for 30 minutes — letting it get up to room temperature will make it much easier to work with. Divide the dough in half.
Turn one of the halves out onto a lightly floured work surface, and press it into a 6-inch round using your palm.
Using your fingertips, press the dough outward, dimpling the dough and stopping about 1 inch from the edge — this thicker edge will become your crust.
After dimpling, stretch dough over the backs of your hands, moving it in a circle to create an 8- to 10-inch round.
Return the dough to your floured work surface, and dimple it with your fingertips, again stopping 1 inch from the edge. After dimpling, pick the dough up again and stretch it over the backs of your hands — and continue to go back and forth like this until you have a 12-inch round with a 1-inch crust.
Top the pizza with a ½ cup of sauce, starting from the center and swirling outward to the inner edge — you want to leave the 1-inch crust dry.
To make either the Margherita or pepperoni pizza: Scatter the fresh mozzarella evenly around the pizza, and then distribute the remaining toppings.
Turn the oven up to high broil.
Using a pizza peel lightly dusted with semolina flour, transfer the pizza to the preheated stone and bake until the crust is charred in spots and the cheese is melted, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Use the pizza peel to remove the pizza from the oven, allow the pizza to cool for 2 to 3 minutes, and then cut and serve it immediately.
Repeat steps 8 to 16 for the second pizza.