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Neapolitan Pizza Margherita

April 19, 2010

By Kath Dedon


Naples at Table, by Arthur Schwartz, is a wonderful cookbook if you’re interested in the cooking of Campania. The recipes are great, and I find the stories he tells about them very interesting.

I love the way he starts his introduction to Pizza Napoletana (Neapolitan Pizza):

You can’t make the best pizza at home, but you can make very, very good pizza, and whatever it may objectively lack is made up for by the pleasure and satisfaction of producing it yourself.

I don’t have a wood-burning pizza oven. I don’t even have a pizza stone, but I made a very, very good pizza last night!

Neapolitan Pizza Dough

(Adapted from the recipe by Arthur Schwartz in Naples at Table)


(print the recipe)


Makes enough dough for 2 10-inch pizzas. Double for 4 pizzas.


1¼ teaspoons dried yeast

½ cup warm (105˚ – 115˚) water

2 cups all-purpose flour (I used Italian “00” flour, but regular flour would have been better. See Jonas’ helpful comment about it below.)

3/8 teaspoon salt (1/4 + 1/8)

¼ cup warm water


1. Stir the yeast into the ½ cup warm water in a 1 cup measuring cup. Stir in ½ cup of the flour. Cover with a towel and let it sit for 30 minutes.


(Yes, I did use Caputo “00” flour, but it turns out that was a mistake which I learned from one of the people who commented below. It will not brown in a home oven. I should have used all-purpose flour. My crust would have browned better.)


2. It will just about double in volume and have bubbles. (If it doesn’t, your yeast is dead. Off to the store, or do it another day.)

3. Combine the remaining 1½ cups flour with the salt in a large bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture and the ¼ cup warm water.

4. Put a bit of flour on cutting board and knead the dough with the heel of your hand for about 10 or 12 minutes. Add more flour to the board if it starts to stick, but not too much. Just enough to keep it from sticking. As you knead, fold the dough over and turn it. When it has been kneaded enough, it won’t stick to the board and it will be smooth and elastic.


5. Shape the dough into a ball and put it in bowl; cover with a towel and let it rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in bulk. To test it, put water on your finger and stick it in the dough. It’s ready if the indentation stays.

6. While the dough is rising, at least 30 minutes before you’re going to bake the pizza, put an oven rack in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 500˚.

7. When the dough is ready, divide it into two pieces. You can make two pizzas, or refrigerate or freeze one of the pieces.

8. To shape the pizza, flatten the dough into a disk. Use your fingers to press it out bigger and to form a ridge around the edge. Lift the pizza with both hands and let the weight of it stretch it out. Keep turning and pulling until you have a pizza that is 10 or 11 inches in diameter.

You’re ready to top the pizza for baking!


Pizza Margherita

(Adapted from the recipe by Arthur Schwartz in Naples at Table)


Dough for 1 pizza

5 canned plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped

½ teaspoon minced garlic

Salt, to taste

1½ – 2 ounces mozzarella, sliced or coarsely shredded

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 or 2 basil leaves, torn


1. Top the pizza with the ingredients in the order given.

2. Bake in the preheated oven for 7 – 8 minutes.


Neapolitan Pizza Margherita ready for the oven:


2. Bake in the preheated oven for 7 – 8 minutes.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Byron permalink
    April 19, 2010 7:53 pm

    My mouth waters every time I read a post Kath! When can we come over for dinner? 🙂

  2. April 19, 2010 8:04 pm

    You and Laura are always welcome, Byron! Just give a shout so I know to cook for 4 instead of for 2.

  3. April 20, 2010 6:28 pm

    wow that is a great looks delish!!


  4. April 21, 2010 8:45 am

    It’s easy, too, sweetlife! You just need the time to let the yeast do its thing.

  5. Jonas permalink
    September 9, 2014 4:13 pm

    Caputo 00 flour is inappropriate for home oven applications as it just begins to brown at 800 degrees. When baked in an oven at 905 degrees or more, as it is with wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, 00 flour is the best choice.

    All purpose and bread flours are malted, which allows browning in the typical home oven.

    • September 9, 2014 4:23 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment, Jonas! I didn’t know that. That probably explains why my pizza crust, as tasty as it was, didn’t brown well when I baked it.

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