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BBA Challenge #25: Pizza Napoletana

So I am back home after the long Winter Road Trip, and I have added a significant number of new states to my states visited list:

Visited States Map

I have only a few more states to go before I have dominated the entire Eastern seaboard. Maybe eventually I’ll even get to some of the rest of the country.

I have been home for a few days unwinding since I don’t have to go back to work until tomorrow. So I took the opportunity to make the next BBA Challenge, one I have been waiting for: pizza.

I have a favorite pizza dough recipe already, and it is here. I have tried several other versions, including one using King Arthur Flour’s special Italian Flour that is supposed to come close to the Italian 00 flour. But none has worked as well as Giada’s.

However, it contains olive oil, and Peter Reinhart says in the introduction to Pizza Rustica that adding olive oil is not authentic. True Neopolitan pizza dough is flour, water, yeast, and salt. He recommends all-purpose flour, but then gives an alternate version with bread flour and olive oil that he says is easier to handle. I went the hardcore all-purpose, no olive oil route, and that was a mistake.

The dough itself couldn’t be easier. You mix, knead, and divide it.

Plastic Tubs of Dough

PR recommends putting the dough into plastic bags, but I went the reusable route with little plastic tubs. I sprayed them with olive oil and put the divided dough in. I used a scale to divide so I got roughly even weights of dough, although they were a little less than 6 oz. a piece.

They were also too sticky to be accurately called round.

Dough

Five of my plastic tubs I put in the freezer for future use. The other one I put in the refrigerator for the next day.

Boxed Up

The next day I patted the dough into a little circle, sprinkled it with flour, and let it sit for two hours. I was a little worried about the size of the dough; it seemed too small to make an adequate pizza. I was hoping it would rise significantly, but it didn’t really.

Circle of Dough

When I tried to shape it, I got annoyed very quickly. I am not a pizza dough shaping expert. With the aforementioned favorite dough recipe, I usually spread it out on a piece of parchment paper, rather than stretch and toss the traditional way. I tried to stretch and toss with this dough, following Reinhart’s instructions, and my dough soon developed holes all over it. I stopped several times and started again, and I could never get the dough to stretch without breaking. Finally, I resorted to my usual method. I stretched it as far as I could, put it on parchment paper, covered it with olive oil, and pushed it out by hand on the paper until it was fairly thin. I got a small pizza this way, and I started to wish I had left two dough containers out of the freezer instead of just one.

I covered it with sauce and cheese, popped it in the preheated oven, and eight minutes later, a pizza was born.

Pizza Rustica

This pizza tasted great. For some reason, the crust didn’t brown as much as my usual dough, but it was a nice thin crust — my favorite kind. I would like to make this dough again with the bread flour and the olive oil instead of just all-purpose flour to see if I can get a true pizza stretch and toss. But first I have to use up all of the dough in my freezer. I would not recommend making the “authentic” version unless you have serious pizza skills.

This challenge gets a temporary 3.5 stars, but I might revise it once I try the other option.

6 thoughts on “BBA Challenge #25: Pizza Napoletana

  1. Sorry to hear you had a hard time with your dough. I have used both bread and all-purpose flours in mine, with good results. I do add the olive oil, too. It has taken some time, but I’m getting better at stretching and tossing the dough. Of course, so are my kids (ages 12 and 6)! We make pizza almost weekly and almost always use this recipe.

  2. I do hope you try this dough again…it was certainly one of my favorites. I believe the olive oil does make it easier to handle and the all purpose flour worked great. It was easier to stretch out the dough and if there’s enough gluten development, there shouldn’t be any tears. Great post!

  3. Too bad you had trouble with the dough. I used high-gluten flour and the dough stretched like it was made of rubber. Plus, I really really liked the flavor of it.

  4. Mouthwatering, even if it was hard to work with. Where did you find your state’s visited map? We have a gigantic wall map and outline each state that we visit.

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