3 Best Homemade Pizza Dough Recipes (Neapolitan)

My thoughts

You can find so many different pizza dough recipes at the store, especially in the vegan variety.  Some are not bad, but nothing beats a homemade pizza dough recipe. Seriously, if I absolutely had to buy 1 component of a pizza at the store, the last thing would be the dough.

This is just my opinion, but if you want a fresh pizza you either order one that is made to order, or you make one yourself. Well if you are in the mood to make one yourself, you have found the right place.

homemade pizza dough recipe

History

Pizza has a remarkably interesting history that may surprise a few about its true origins.  Well it is hard to distinguish who actually invented the pizza considering people were eating round, flat breads since before history was being written down. It is said that the Greeks may have been the first to use bread as a plate, baked with assorted toppings.

At the height of the Persian empire, 6th century BC, tired soldiers were said to have baked a kind of flat bread on their shields after a long march. This pizza was topped with oil, cheese, and dates.  This is not the first time we will hear of this flat and round bread either. Multiple other references to this treat appear in the next few centuries to come.

Marcus Cato or “Cato the Elder”, credited for writing the first history of Rome, vaguely describes a flat round of dough dressed with olive oil, herbs and honey that was cooked on stones. It was not but a couple hundred years later this concept pops up again in “The Aeneid” by Virgil. This publication described Rome’s origin and circles of bread. Now, separately these references would make any sense; But all together I am seeing a pattern emerge.

It was not until we found the “De Re Coquinaria” by Marcus Gavius Apicius that we truly started to understand roman cooking during this time. This cookbook contained the first pizza dough recipe, and Apicius’ undying love for food.

It was not until the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that smothered Pompeii that the evidence of these claims arose “from the ashes”. Sorry, I had to….  Along with the “De Re Coquinaria”, evidence of a pizzeria was found in the ruins. Mind you this was 79 AD.

Pizza as we know it came to existence in the 16th century. This is when tomatoes were brought back to Europe from the “new world” (Peru). Oddly enough, the people in Europe though of the tomato to be a poisonous fruit.  They were kind of right in a way, but not really.

The only way the Europeans found out the tomato was not poisonous came from the lower-class society of Naples. The poor people of Naples, Italy unknowingly put the potential poisonous tomatoes on their yeast bread and created the pizza as we know it.

During this era of pizza, Neapolitan pizza was widely known as the best in all of Italy. When Spain occupied Italy in the early 16th century, Spanish soldiers would hang out at the Tavern of Cerrigloi. Apparently, this was the place to get pizza in Naples.

At this time pizza was still a food of the poor folk of Naples. That does not mean it was not popular though. Even tourists to the Naples area would seek out men called “pizzaioli”. These were the men that specialized in making pizzas for the peasants.

Although the pizza was being created for several hundred years prior the first Neapolitan pizza was documented to be created in the late 1800s. An Italian baker, Raffaele Esposito, is the man accredited for bringing this product into fruition.  Raffaele want to impress royalty that was visiting this coastal Italian city, so he chose to top his pizza with tomato, mozzarella, and basil to reflect the colors of their flag.

The king and queen were so impressed, they spread word of his creation and it was copied by many in Italy. This pizza soon became the official pizza of Naples and was deemed the Pizza Margherita.

In 1905, the pizza finally made it to the states. An Italian immigrant, Gennaro Lombardi, began making his tomato pies for the working-class Italian immigrants in Manhattan. These pies began the focal point of his small grocery stores sales, and over time he stopped selling groceries all together and focused on his pizza.  This was just a small niche at this time.

Pizza did not really take off in the united states until after World War II.  This is when pizzerias started opening up country wide, in every major city.  Then, of course, we put our own spin on it. Pizza became a very regional cuisine.

A pizza in New York was not the same as a pizza in Chicago.  New Jersey was home to the second American pizzeria in 1910 this establishment was called Joes tomato Pies.

In 1943 a man named Ike Swell created his version of the pizza in Chicago at his bar and grill called Pizzeria Uno. This was the first ever Chicago deep dish pizza. Unlike its predecessors, this pizza had a flaky crust rose an inch above the plate and housed deep piles of toppings. It went over well in its area.

A few years later in 1957, pizza began to be produced on a large scale for the public. This came with the invention of the frozen pizza that we commonly see to this day. Of course, this became the most popular of all frozen food.

Before things got out of hand, in 2009 the European union deemed the Neapolitan pizza part of Europe’s food heritage. This regulated aspiring Neapolitan pizzerias to follow strict guidelines to not misrepresent the product. This allowed restaurateurs in this niche to show-off their exclusivity and charge a higher price per pie.

As you can see, pizza has a remarkably interesting and extensive history. It is no wonder it is one of the most consumed foods on the planet. Let us get into what a pizza actually is.

What is Homemade Pizza Dough?

Pizza dough has been referred to as many things over the ages. The ancient romans have referred to it as a flatbread while others have called it a “plate”. Some often refer to it as a pie, which in the technical sense I guess it does kind of fall into that category. In my personal opinion, I like to refer to pizza as a flatbread, deep dish pizza excluded of course.

As far as Neapolitan pizza dough, there are certain requirements on must meet to be official. One distinct requirement is that Neapolitan pizza dough must be hand stretched. This means no rolling pins, and it can be no thicker than 3 millimeters. The pizza must be baked at extremely high temperatures too, were talking 905F for 60-90 seconds.

A homemade pizza dough homemade recipe can be multiple things though. I want to talk about traditional and nontraditional uses in a bit. First, lets talk about how to make a delicious pizza dough.

homemade pizza dough recipe

 

How to Make Homemade Pizza Dough

Making homemade pizza dough recipes is a science. There are a bunch of different steps involved but, in the end, it is totally worth it. This is a basic outline of steps that you will see in some top-notch pizza doughs.

You first start out by activating yeast. Whether in water or oil, and times may also vary. The next step is incorporating the flour and other dry goods in a particular manner, it depends on the recipe.

The end results fall with in the same parameters though, you want the dough to be elastic and sticky but not tacky. There is a certain feel you get after working with it for some time.

Homemade pizza dough recipes requires patience. Every dough is required to proof at least once. Most doughs actually proof twice. That is why it is best practice to plan ahead when making your homemade pizza dough.

Let the dough rest for 15-30 minutes depending on the size of batch you made. Once the dough has rested, its time to portion.  Portion the dough in sizes that you are comfortable shaping. Honestly, for me making smaller pizzas is actually harder, but for most it is the opposite.

Once portioned, the dough is left to proof. This is a good time to add a touch of oil to the dough and the tray to prevent sticking and oxidation.

When its time to cook, flour is your best friend. Flour the dough, your work surface, and your hands to eliminate any sticking problems. You also want to make sure your dough is room temperature, so it is easiest to work with.

A pizza stone is also highly recommended for home use. If not, then use a sheet tray just do not preheat it and make sure it is properly greased. While your pan is greased, the bottom of your dough is covered with semolina.

Then you roll out your dough, whether by hand or with a pin. Once rolled to your liking, its time to add the toppings. When topping a pizza, you want to add less toppings, sauce, and cheese than you think. Seriously, less is more when it comes to pizza.

Now that its time to bake, there is a few things you need to know. Pizza cooks very quickly in the oven. You need to monitor the pizza. It would be beneficial to turn the light on in the oven. Overall, the pizza should take 5-7 minutes to bake.  You may also need to rotate it halfway through to get even cooking.

Once cooked to your liking, transfer the pizza to a cutting surface. Always wait a minute before you slice, this way the cheese will settle and not run off the pizza.  Once the cheese has set, enjoy!!! 

How to Use Homemade Pizza Dough

Pizza dough can be a long process, especially if doing it professionally. Lucky for you guys I have worked in a pizza joint or two, and I know how to utilize pizza dough in a few different ways.

Bread Sticks

A lot of times, pizza dough will start to get close to its life expectancy. A good way to utilize this older dough is to make them into bread sticks. You simply pat down your dough and use a pizza cutter to cut them into strips. The next step it to bake them off like you do a pizza. Pretty straight forward.

Garlic Knots

Some prefer a roll rather than a bread stick. No harm in that. If you have left over pizza dough, then simply cut your dough portions into 4-6 sections. Take one section and stretch it out and wrap it round your finger.

Next push one end of the knot through the gap and tighten. Just like tying a knot with rope. Brush it with a little garlic oil or vegan garlic butter and you are ready to rock!

Cinnamon Rolls

Stuck with a few pizza portions? Roll it out about 1/8-1/4 in thick. Apply a thin layer of cinnamon and brown sugar to the top and roll it up! Cut the log into 1-1 ½ in sections and bake them off. Super simple breakfast idea made from something you already had!

Calzones or Stromboli

This just goes without saying. Make your friends at work jealous with your leftover pizza dough! You roll out the dough the same way you just fold the dough over the toppings instead of leaving it open faced. Just make sure to make a little hole to let the steam escape.

Dumplings

This one a lot of people do not realize. Pizza dough makes really good dumplings for vegan chicken and dumplings soup! Do not believe me? Try it for yourself.

Flatbread

If rolled thin enough, pizza dough is great grilled and can be utilized as a dipping vessel, sandwich bread, and many more applications.

Pot Pie

Who does not enjoy a good pot pie?Use your left-over pizza dough to create the top layer of a pot pie of your choosing. The hard part is done for you already!

Zeppoles

Dice some left over pizza dough and deep fry it! Once cooked quickly toss with cinnamon and sugar mix. So, freaking good!!! They are like little doughnut holes. 

Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe Tricks and Tips

Measuring

When making pizza dough, use a scale to measure ingredients. This is a lot more accurate when making pizza dough, and accuracy is key with these recipes.  Get a scale that weights to the tenth of a gram.

Yeast

Make sure the type of yeast you are using is the correct type of yeast for the recipe.  If you already have yeast, make sure you bloom the yeast to make sure it is still alive. You do not want to do all this work to find out the yeast does not work.

Flours

Make sure you use the right flours the recipe calls for. Check to make sure you have semolina flour also check the gluten content of your flours. Also use a fresh flour do not use something you have had for 6 months.

Obviously, the type of flour directly affects the crust.  Typically, the higher the gluten content, the crunchier the exterior of the crust and the chewier the interior.  All Purpose flour will result in a softer crust, which may be beneficial for a pan pizza.

Types of Dough

Lean dough vs. Rich dough.  Learn about these types of doughs and how to work with them. I will tell you all I know but its good to get a second opinion.  A Leaner dough will be more elastic and have a chewier crust, while a rich dough will be a touch more fragile and will crack and crumble.

Proofing

Allow your dough to proof in the refrigerator overnight. This slow fermentation process allows the dough to develop some real flavor. If you really want to develop good flavor, make your dough 2-3 days in advance.

Dough Temperature

Pizza dough is extremely easier to work with when room temperature.  When you pull your portioned balls out of the fridge, let them come to room temperature before shaping them. It will save you a lot of trouble.

The dough changing temperature also means the dough will be going through fermentation. Fermentation for pizza dough is good because that is where its flavor comes from.

Stretching

Stretching the dough is astronomically better than using a rolling pin. Stretching the dough works the gluten in a way that using a rolling pin just does not. Why is working the gluten important? Gluten development and the crunch and chew of your dough go hand in hand. So instead of using a rolling pin, try stretching the dough with the backs of your hands. 

Shape

Do not worry about the shape of your pizza. It does not have to be perfectly round. Some of the best pizzas I have ever eaten had a different shape every time I ordered it. Making pizza is about so many other things, the shape should be the last thing you worry about. It is an artisan pizza made by a human being.

Toppings

Do not go overboard with the toppings, sauce, or cheese. A little goes a long way when it comes to pizza. Do a little research on the size of your pizza and how much sauce and cheese you can put. It will look like it is not enough but trust me it probably is.

Cooking

Try cooking these pizzas in a cast iron pan if you have one. This will mimic using a pizza stone, just make sure it is heated well. Cook your pizza on the highest your oven will go. It usually is 500 F maybe 550F.  Also use the broil feature on your oven if have one. This will help with caramelization of the top layer.

Equipment Needed

  • 1 pizza stone, cast iron, pizza steel
  • 1 pizza peel or spatula
  • 1 digital kitchen scale
  • 2 mixing bowls
  • 1 wooden spoon or spatula
  • 1 whisk
  • Plastic wrap

Homemade Pizza Dough Recipe (Neapolitan)

homemade pizza dough recipe

Yield: 2 16-inch Pizzas

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 500         g              High Gluten Bread Flour
  • 350         g              Water, Lukewarm
  • 10           g              Salt
  • 2.5          g              Active Dry Yeast

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine water and yeast and set aside until dissolved (5-10 Minutes).
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour and salt and whisk thoroughly. Once yeast is bloomed, add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix until just combined, then cover with plastic wrap. Let proof for 30-45 minutes.
  3. The dough is done proofing when it has grown in size exceptionally. Pull the dough out of the bowl and divide into two equal portions.
  4. Knead each ball for 3-4 minutes. Do this by stretching the dough out and folding it over itself. Do this a few times then shape the dough back into a ball and place back in the bowl. Repeat this process with the other portion. Brush with a touch of olive oil and cover with plastic. Let proof in fridge for 24-48 hours.
  5. When its time to cook, pull the dough out of the fridge a few hours early so it can come up to room temperature.
  6. Once room temperature, flour your work surface and hands. I like using semolina flour, but AP is fine too. Flour the top of the dough ball and flip it over and deflate it gently starting in the center. Continue deflating as you slowly work your way out towards the edge of the dough forming the crust.
  7. Lift the dough off the surface with the back of your fists and stretch the dough lightly. Keep the dough rotating with the backs of your hands and let gravity do the rest.
  8. The crust should be thick around the outer edge, while the center is thinner than 3 mm thick.
  9. Once you have the thickness down you can apply the finishing touches to the shape before adding your sauce and toppings.

Nutrition Facts

 Easy Pizza Dough Recipe (Neapolitan)

homemade pizza dough recipe

Yield: 4 12-inch Pizzas

Prep Time:  15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 20           oz           “00” Pizza Flour
  • ½             oz           Kosher Salt
  • .3            oz           Instant Yeast
  • 13           oz           Water

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, yeast, and water and mix well.
  2. Next, add water and incorporate with your hands until just combined. Be sure to incorporate all the dry flour from the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic and allow to proof at room temperature for 2-8 hours.
  3. Now that dough has proofed for a minimum of 2 hours, portion the dough into 4 equal parts.
  4. Once portioned, work each ball of dough separately by stretching one side then folding over itself. Then stretch the other side of the dough portion and fold it over itself. Work the ends of the dough onto the bottom of the ball and close the seam by pinching it together tightly. The top of the dough ball portion should look tight and smooth. Place the ball seem side down in a bowl. Brush the top with a light amount of oil.
  5. Repeat this process for each dough portion.
  6. Once all the portions are worked and wrapped, refrigerate for 24-72 hours.
  7. When it is time to cook, pull the dough out of the fridge a few hours early so it can come up to room temperature.
  8. Once room temperature, flour your work surface and hands. I like using semolina flour, but AP is fine too. Flour the top of the dough ball and flip it over and deflate it gently starting in the center. Continue deflating as you slowly work your way out towards the edge of the dough forming the crust.
  9. Lift the dough off the surface with the back of your fists and stretch the dough lightly. Keep the dough rotating with the backs of your hands and let gravity do the rest.
  10. The crust should be thick around the outer edge, while the center is thinner than 3 mm thick.
  11. Once you have the thickness down you can apply the finishing touches to the shape before adding your sauce and toppings.

Nutrition Facts

 No Yeast Pizza Dough (Neapolitan-style)

homemade pizza dough recipe

Yield: 2 12-inch Pizzas

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2              Cups      All Purpose Flour
  • 2              tsp          Baking Powder
  • 1              tsp          Salt
  • 2/3         Cup        Soy Milk
  • 1/3         Cup        Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt) and mix thoroughly. Once mixed, make a well in the center of the flour.
  2. Mix wet ingredients in a measuring cup or other vessel, then pour into the dry ingredients. Incorporate this dough until just combined. Add a touch more milk if dough is dry and if dough is wet and a bit more flour.
  3. After the dough is mixed dust the top and bottom of the dough ball and your hands with flour. Next, knead the dough for 6-8 minutes by stretching one side then folding over itself. Then stretch the other side of the dough portion and fold it over itself. Work the ends of the dough onto the bottom of the ball and close the seam by pinching it together tightly. The top of the dough ball portion should look tight and smooth. Place the ball seam side down in a bowl.
  4. When it is time to cook, pull the dough out of the fridge a few hours early so it can come up to room temperature.
  5. Once room temperature, flour your work surface and hands. I like using semolina flour, but AP is fine too. Flour the top of the dough ball and flip it over and deflate it gently starting in the center. Continue deflating as you slowly work your way out towards the edge of the dough forming the crust. Use a rolling pin to flatten the rest of the way. Fold the edges to form crust if you want a thicker crust.
  6. Pierce the dough a few times with a fork all over and brush with olive oil. This will help the dough crisp up.

Nutrition Facts

 

 

 

Sources

Stradley, Linda. “Pizza – History and Legends of Pizza.” What’s Cooking America, 31 Oct. 2016, whatscookingamerica.net/History/Pizza/PizzaHistory.htm.

York, Brian. “The History of Pizza – Greece to Naples to America.” The Home Pizzeria, 2008, www.thehomepizzeria.com/history-of-pizza/.

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