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What Is Neopolitan Pizza

Neapolitan pizza is a beloved Italian dish that has gained popularity all around the world. Its simple yet delicious combination of flavors and its traditional baking method have made it a favorite among pizza enthusiasts. But what exactly is Neapolitan pizza and what sets it apart from other styles of pizza? In this article, we will explore the origins, characteristics, and unique features of Neapolitan pizza.

**What is Neapolitan Pizza?**
Neapolitan pizza is a style of pizza that originated in Naples, Italy. It is known for its thin and soft crust, fresh ingredients, and traditional baking method. Neapolitan pizza is typically cooked in a wood-fired oven at high temperatures, resulting in a crispy yet chewy crust and a lightly charred flavor.

**The History of Neapolitan Pizza**
The origins of Neapolitan pizza can be traced back to Naples in the 18th century. It was originally a simple and affordable food for the working class. The pizza dough was made with basic ingredients like flour, water, yeast, and salt, and topped with local ingredients such as tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.

**Characteristics of Neapolitan Pizza**
Neapolitan pizza has some distinctive characteristics that set it apart from other styles of pizza. Here are some of the key features:

1. **Thin and Soft Crust:** Neapolitan pizza has a thin and soft crust that is slightly charred on the edges. The dough is made with high-quality Caputo 00 flour, which gives it a light and airy texture.

2. **Fresh Ingredients:** Neapolitan pizza is all about using fresh and high-quality ingredients. San Marzano tomatoes, which are grown in the volcanic soil near Mount Vesuvius, are typically used for the sauce. The cheese used is bufala mozzarella, made from the milk of water buffaloes.

3. **Simple Toppings:** Neapolitan pizza is all about simplicity. It is usually topped with minimal ingredients to let the flavors shine. Typical toppings include fresh basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, and sometimes a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

4. **Wood-Fired Oven Baking:** One of the key characteristics of Neapolitan pizza is the traditional baking method. It is cooked in a wood-fired oven at temperatures around 900 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius) for just a few minutes. This high heat gives the pizza its signature crispy crust and smoky flavor.

**The Neapolitan Pizza Association**
To preserve the authenticity and quality of Neapolitan pizza, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was established in Naples in 1984. This association sets strict guidelines for making and baking Neapolitan pizza. It certifies pizzerias that adhere to these guidelines and use the traditional methods and ingredients.

**The Neapolitan Pizza Process**
Making Neapolitan pizza is a labor of love that requires skill and precision. Here is a step-by-step guide to the process:

1. **Dough Preparation:** The dough for Neapolitan pizza is made with flour, water, yeast, and salt. It is mixed by hand or using a low-speed mixer until it forms a smooth and elastic ball of dough. The dough is then left to rise for several hours.

2. **Hand Stretching:** The risen dough is divided into small balls and shaped into individual pizza bases. The dough is then stretched by hand to create a thin and round crust.

3. **Topping Application:** The pizza base is topped with a thin layer of San Marzano tomato sauce, followed by slices of fresh bufala mozzarella. Any additional toppings, such as basil leaves or olive oil, are added sparingly.

4. **Baking in a Wood-Fired Oven:** The pizza is then transferred to a wood-fired oven that has been preheated to a very high temperature. It bakes for just a few minutes, during which the crust puffs up, the cheese melts, and the flavors meld together.

**Frequently Asked Questions**

**Q: Is Neapolitan pizza the same as Margherita pizza?**
A: While Margherita pizza is a type of Neapolitan pizza, not all Neapolitan pizzas are Margherita pizzas. Margherita pizza is a classic Neapolitan pizza topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh bufala mozzarella, and basil leaves.

**Q: Can Neapolitan pizza be made in a regular oven?**
A: Traditional Neapolitan pizza is best made in a wood-fired oven to achieve the characteristic crispy yet chewy crust. However, it is possible to make a version of Neapolitan pizza in a regular oven by using a pizza stone or a baking steel to mimic the high heat of a wood-fired oven.

**Q: Can I freeze Neapolitan pizza dough?**
A: Yes, you can freeze Neapolitan pizza dough. After dividing the dough into small balls, wrap each ball tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag. When ready to use, let the dough thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bring it to room temperature before stretching and baking.

**Final Thoughts**
Neapolitan pizza is not just a meal; it is a culinary tradition rooted in history and culture. Its simplicity, fresh ingredients, and traditional baking method have made it a favorite among pizza lovers. Whether you enjoy a classic Margherita or try a variation with your favorite toppings, Neapolitan pizza is sure to delight your taste buds. So, grab a slice of this Italian delight and indulge in the flavors of Naples!

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