Every weekend we make this basic pizza recipe. It is not recent news that every human being loves pizza, but not everyone makes their own.
Having pizza here in Italy is like having bread in any western country. Although we all know pizza, we have very different conceptions about what is acceptable and what isn’t when eating and cooking this world-famous invention.
Even here in Italy, there are a lot of differences between regions.
These differences touch every aspect of its making; the dough (“impasto”), the sauce, the cheese, the type of flour used, the raising time and method, cooking method (there’s even fried pizza)… I could keep going.
The Ingredients you need for this Basic Pizza Recipe
Rules to eat Pizza without hurting Italian’s Pride
Note these are NOT my personal opinions but a set of "rules" I have gathered while living in Italy and interviewing chefs and just regular people from different regions. We just gathered some of those opinions.
Certain things remain the same across the country, some of which we didn’t know before:
- Do not add any strange things on top of a pizza, such as ketchup. That one is easy!
- Pizza should be eaten with the hand, no forks, please—another easy one, except for some picky characters.
- The pizza is round, with no funny shapes. I had made and seen rectangle shapes before; just make sure you don’t do it in Italy! Keep reading to know about the Pinsa, which has a rectangle shape.
- The cut should be triangular. No squares allowed. I had cut them in different shapes before, but not anymore!
- The pizza is individual. This one was shocking for us. Do not attempt to ask for a pizza for two in a restaurant, although it is OK to share kinds. I wonder how they keep in shape!
Of course, you can get creative when it comes to toppings; they are also very creative even here in Italy.
In every Pizza Shop, you will find not less than twenty types of pizzas.
The usual variations and customizations are:
- Type of flour: Bran flour vs. Normal
- Sauce: White vs. Red Sauce pizza
- Border: option for a filled border. This one is arguable, but hey… I live here, and I have seen many pizza delivery services that offer this option).
Where do things get tricky?
The Naming of a Pizza: do not call a Napolitan Pizza a Roman Pizza (and vice versa). If you are not wrongly calling out those types of pizzas, you are safe!
The main differences between the two?
The main difference between the Roman Pizza and the Napolitan Pizza is the dough.
- You make a Napolitan Pizza only with flour, yeast, water, and salt.
- On the other hand, Roman pizza will add olive oil to the ingredients to be stretched further, making a thinner dough.
There is also the Pinsa Romana, which:
- It has a rectangle shape.
- The dough is made with a specific combination of flours.
- It is raised for a specific amount of time.
- A Pinsa does not have cooked ingredients on top.
I will dedicate another post to the Pinsa Romana soon!
The mindset that drives all these specificities is the same as the one for wines and distyles. It all comes to what ingredients are being used, their origins, and the cooking and processing methods.
How to get your basic pizza right from the beginning?
Making a pizza is actually very easy; you just need to know various tips and consider them from the start. Otherwise, you will always be asking yourself what went wrong this time.
I strongly recommend reading the pro-tips along with Yeast and Flour Section below.
- The minimum amount of time I would recommend letting the dough rise is two hours, but I prefer leaving it to rise for three hours and even overnight.
- Make sure you leave the dough to rise at a warm temperature. I leave it close to my house heater in winter, or also, you can turn the oven on 100 ºF (50ºC) for ten minutes and then turn it off before turning the dough in.
- I love semolina and the sandy, dusty effect it has on pizza. In my opinion, semolina just makes the pizzas have more of a Sourdough texture, which I am all in for.
- When raising, cover the dough pieces with plastic foil. Air is the worst enemy of your dough. It will make a hard crust on it if you leave it uncovered.
- Put any oven-resistant pan on the bottom of the oven with 2 cups of water (this helps ensure the same temperature is homogenous if you don’t have an oven with a fan).
- Suppose you don’t have a Pizza Oven or a Clay Oven, which raise their temperature way above any conventional house oven. In that case, you need to increase the temperature to the maximum (about 480ºF or 250ºC) and let it pre-heat for twenty minutes.
- Do not open the oven until the pizza is ready! Otherwise, you will lose the temperature, and the dough will not forgive you.
Flour type is a big deal when it comes to baking. I learned it the hard way. You just can’t use any flour for any dish. The zeros define the amount of gluten (protein) a given flour type has, thus what the flour is good for.
The fewer zeros, the more gluten, and gluten is the protein that makes dough rise. If you use a multipurpose flour (most likely a 000), it will not grow as a 0 or 00 one.
Flours used for baking cakes are most likely the 0000 type because you don’t want your cake to lose its shape.
There is no better or worse flour; you just need to know what you want it for.
Yeasts are microorganisms from the fungus kingdom. They are alive; they hate salt and love sugar. When you use salt, make sure it doesn’t come in direct contact with yeast; it will kill it, the same way hot water will. Yeasts like warm water and sweets, don’t we all?
You can find both fresh and dry yeast; they both work; just follow the yeast package instructions.
The pizza Sauce
Do not get too inventive with the sauce. No onions, no red bell pepper. Keep it simple; it works! Just use the best tomato sauce you can find (Italian Passata works well). Or make your own; simply use blended extra ripe tomatoes using either fresh extra ripe tomatoes or canned tomatoes.
Always use Fresh Italian Basil
Check out our Italian Focaccia Recipe!
Ready to knead? It will be fun!
Basic Pizza Recipe
- ½ pound 0 flour full strong manitoba flour, extra flour to manage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil extra-virgin
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoons cane sugar organic
- 0.20 ounce dry brewer’s yeast
- 11 fluid ounces warm water
- 5 ounces mozzarella cheese good quality (or vegan mozzarella to make it vegan)
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese freshly grated (disregard if going for a vegan option)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra-virgin, to place on top before baking
- 1.5 ounces semolina hard durum wheat
Optional (my favorite toppings):
- Green Olives
- Peperoncino to sprinkle
- Fresh basil or arugula
- Sliced Mushrooms
- Grind or finely chop the garlic and fry in the olive oil on medium heat for 30 seconds.
- Add thetomato sauce, half of the basil leaves, sugar and salt.
- Cook for twenty to thirty minutes until it has reduced one-third, you should be left with two cups out of the initial three cups of tomato sauce. It should be thick.
- Remove fromheat and add the remaining basil leaves. Taste for salt. Let it rest.
- Dilute the sugar and yeast in the water. Let it rest for 10 minutes. You should see some bubbles on top of the mix.
- Meanwhile, mix in a bowl 14 ounces (400 grams) of the 0 Flour, two-thirds of the semolina, salt, and olive oil.
- Add the yeast water. Mix it. It should be sticky.
- Take out of the bowl and stretch and fold it for 20 minutes, adding the remaining flour if needed.
- Divide the dough into two pieces.
- Place each piece on an oiled pan. Put some olive oil on top of each piece until they are fully covered, and then cover them with plastic foil. Air is the worst enemy of your dough. It will make a hard crust on it if you leave it uncovered.
- Let it rise for a minimum of two hours. It should be close to a warm place in your kitchen or close to a heater.
- Pre-heat your oven at 480ºF (or 250 ºC).
- Put any oven-resistant pan on the bottom of the oven with 2 cups of water (this helps ensure the same temperature is kept even in the oven (if you don’t have an oven with a fan).
- Oil a pan with olive oil.
- Add the semolina so it sticks to the oil in the pan.
- Stretch the pizza dough in it until you have a diameter of 12 inches (30 cm).
- Add ¾ cup of tomato sauce and spread it widely (resist the temptation to add too much sauce, or it will make the dough too moist).
- Shred the mozzarella cheese or burrata and spread it on top of the sauce.
- Optionally add three tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan cheese and one tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add any non-leafy topping like olives or mushrooms. Do not add leafy toppings at this point. Otherwise, they will not look fresh when serving the pizza.
- Bake for fifteen minutes and take out of the oven.
- After taking it out of the oven, optionally add any leafy greens like fresh basil or arugula.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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