Pizza Napoletana Margherita – Neapolitan-Style Pizza

Pizza Napoletana Margherita - Basil

This is, without a doubt, the best recipe for pizza dough I’ve ever tried. Chilled flour, ice-cold water, salt, and a small amount of yeast are mixed together and immediately refrigerated in this unique method that draws out the complex flavors locked inside the flour. This delayed fermentation process is arguably the most important, and thankfully, also the easiest, technique in Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

When flour is hydrated, starch is slowly broken down into simpler sugars. Since the dough is kept very cold and immediately refrigerated, the yeast falls asleep and doesn’t snack on these carbohydrates until removed from cold storage. Compared to dough developed using conventional methods, the result is a naturally sweeter dough courtesy of the larger reserve of fermentable sugars.

More carbs for the yeast. More carbs for you. Everybody’s happy. Until the yeast meets its end on a 600ºF baking stone, that is.

Pizza Napoletana Margherita
The Daring Bakers – Pizza Napoletana Dough
hosted by Rosa’s Yummy Yums

pizza dough recipe adapted from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Pizza Napoletana Margherita
Neapolitan-Style Pizza with Buffalo Milk Mozzarella

For the Pizza Dough:

makes six 6-ounce pizza crusts

Ingredients              Volume          Ounces          Grams
bread flour, chilled      4 1/2 cups         20.25         574
sea salt                  1 3/4 tsp            .44          12
instant yeast                 1 tsp            .11           3
water, ice cold           1 3/4 cups         14            399


Pizza Dough Instructions:

Mix             Mix all of the pizza dough ingredients until evenly

Knead           6 to 8 minutes

Rest            5 to 15 minutes

Knead           1 minute to further strengthen the gluten

Divide          6 equal pieces

Preshape        Shape each piece into a loose ball

In a sealable container, store the dough in the refrigerator at
least overnight, or keep for up to three days.

For the Pizza Margherita Toppings:

approximate amounts for each pizza crust

Pizza Napoletana Margherita - Mozzarella di Bufala / San Marzano
Because I take homemade pizza way too seriously.

fresh or canned plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped, preferably San Marzano varietal
a pinch of sea salt
mozzarella cheese, preferably made with buffalo milk, about 3 to 4 ounces
extra virgin olive oil, about 1 to 2 teaspoons
fresh basil leaves, torn

cornmeal or semolina flour, for dusting the pizza peel


  • Pizza Napoletana Margherita is traditionally baked with the basil on top, but I prefer to add the torn leaves immediately after pulling from the oven.
  • When dusting the pizza peel, use more cornmeal or semolina flour than you think you’ll need. There’s nothing worse than stuck pizza dough.

To Bake and Assemble Pizza Napoletana Margherita:

Remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2
hours before baking.

Preheat Oven    Preheat to the maximum temperature, preferably with a
                baking stone. You can also use a heavy gauge sheet pan
                that won't warp at high temperatures.

Preshape        Preshape the pizza dough into a disk about 4 to 5
                inches wide.

Pizza Napoletana Margherita - Dough

Rest            About 15 minutes

Shape           Toss the pizza dough by bouncing it on your fists,
                until about 9 to 12 inches in diameter. It's a bit
                harder than it sounds and takes a bit of practice.
                The edges will be much thicker than the center.

Pizza Napoletana Margherita - Tossed Dough

The Tomatoes    In a spiraling motion from the center, apply a thin
                layer of tomatoes. Evenly distribute a pinch of sea salt
                over the tomatoes.

Pizza Napoletana Margherita - San Marzano Tomatoes

The Cheese      Spread about 3 to 4 ounces of sliced mozzarella over the
                tomato sauce. Drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil.

Pizza Napoletana Margherita - Mozzarella di Bufala

Shake           Before loading the oven, make sure that the pizza
                is not stuck to the peel. Shake the pizza loose until
                it slides around freely.

Bake            Bake until slightly charred on the edges. It takes
                about 4 to 5 minutes when baked on a screaming hot
                baking stone in my oven. Your mileage may vary.

Pizza Napoletana Margherita - Baked
A bit overdone, maybe? I was kind of going for this look.

Serve           Sprinkle with the torn basil leaves and cut into 6 to 8
                pieces using a pizza cutter or large knife.

                Serve immediately.

Pizza Napoletana Margherita - Sliced
Homemade Pizza Napoletana Margherita. Close enough for me.

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71 Responses to “Pizza Napoletana Margherita – Neapolitan-Style Pizza”

  1. Ruth says:

    I love your photos. They look delicious. Fantastic Pizza

  2. Audax Artifex says:

    Beautiful looking pizza, love the photos you have to love 600F ovens and baking stones.

  3. hanne says:

    I wish my oven went to 600! It stops at 550, but I tried to help it along with the convection fan.

    The flavours of this dough are great, aren’t they? I didn’t even know how much I was missing out on. I also love the texture– both tender and crispy. So good!

    I love your photos.

  4. teroli says:

    Hi, your pizza is amazing!
    I love the way you put sliced mozzarella on it.
    It seems like four-leaf clover.

  5. Tanya says:

    Pizza Margherita is my favorite! Great job – your pizza looks delicious!

  6. javapot says:

    Love the crust on your pizza – I don’t suppose conventional ovens can achieve this perfection???

  7. noobcook says:

    your pizza looks fab! I love it burnt at the edges actually, just the way you do it :)

  8. linda says:

    When using the right ingredients Pizza Margherita can be heaven. Looking at your pizza and ingredients, this pizza must have been just that.

  9. Rosa says:

    Very well done! Your pizza looks perfect and really scrumptious! Wow!



  10. Zita says:

    Ooo… I like how you put the mozzarella, beautiful!

  11. maryann says:

    Jude, Your pizza is awesome!!

  12. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    There’s something so elegant about a margherita pizza — every ingredient must be wonderful, and when it is, there is a perfect harmony.

  13. Haley W. says:

    Looks delicious – I love margherita pizza. Using the canned San Marzanos is how I usually make my sauce, as well. Sometimes I’ll heat them slowly on the stove and let them break down a bit, with a little garlic and fresh herbs added. Other times, straight from the can. YUM!

  14. Caitlin says:

    Want. It. Dear lord that crust Jude… Love the simplicity of the toppings too.

  15. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    It doesn’t look overdone to me, it looks perfect. Margherita is ever my favorite.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Beautiful ingredients!!

  17. Y says:

    Heh. Great post! This dough certainly made me feel very happy too :)

  18. Marija says:

    Beautiful Margherita! I love the crust!

  19. maybelles mom says:

    wow, 600 degrees? I wished mine got that high. but the picts are lovely.

  20. rainbowbrown says:

    It is a great method isn’t it? Your pizza looks delightful.

  21. Meeta says:

    660 F!! oh wow! well it did a great job on the pizza look great!

  22. sweetbird says:

    Your pizza looks great! But where’s your tossing photo sir? Hmmm? I finally showed my face…

    My real question is how the hell do you get your oven that hot? I preheated mine for over an hour and it barely made it to 500. Stupid rental house with its stupid lame oven.

  23. kat says:

    Your pizza looks like the ones we get at our pizzeria that are cooked at 800 degrees. I wish we had liked this dough a little better…

  24. Zoë François says:

    Wow, your crust is so gorgeous! I wish my oven got up to 600°!

  25. Manggy says:

    Ah, I knew it! When I saw that you didn’t include the oil, I guessed you were striving for authenticity ;) Now, on to the fresh yeast, lol. I’ve only ever proofed in the fridge, ever since The Blob incident of ‘07 :)

  26. Natashya says:

    I knew you would have an amazing pizza. It looks so wonderful. Great, pure ingredients. I will try doing the herbs when I pull it out of the oven, usually I put them on the bottom (under toppings) to protect them from the heat.
    I used the oil but then had to increase the flour – PR does not include seperate ratio of flour if using oil – I found that odd. Re the American Pie book – I bought it for this challenge, I already had BBA, but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. Shameful, I know. But you can’t go wrong with PR.

  27. Nicole says:

    Your pizza looks great! My oven just doesn’t get hot enough to get those lovely charred edges but my dream someday is to build my own pizza oven! :-)

  28. jillian says:

    Your pizza looks like cheesy perfection!

  29. Madam Chow says:

    I, too, have moved this dough to the top of my list of favorites. Your step-by-step photos are wonderful, by the way!

  30. Ulrike says:

    Great step-by-step pictures and great looking pizza!
    Ulrike from Küchenlatein

  31. Mike says:

    That’s a beauty of a margherita! Its one of those things that looks so simple, but done right, is really something

  32. Tarah says:

    Ohh, I love the cheese you used! The best way to top a pizza. I don’t really like to you shredded cheese. Awesome job ;]

  33. Soma says:

    WOW! Thats an awesome look. Love the slightly charred crust.

  34. Ally says:

    You have the most beautiful pictures! You pizza looks delicious! Love the educational tid bit too!

  35. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    Beautiful pizza. Okay, that’s a ringing endorsement for the dough. Have to try this recipe soon.

  36. jo says:

    Great job on your pizzas and such lovely photos as well. I had wanted to use mozarella balls as well but they so so expensive here that I ended up with shredded ones which were much cheaper.

  37. Caroline says:

    Beautiful-looking pizza you got there, Jude. The pics are awesome, as always.

  38. noble pig says:

    It’s so beautiful! Wow, the melting cheese is so appetizing.

  39. Dana McCauley says:

    Great classic combo! YOur pizza looks rustically delicious!

  40. Ivonne says:

    Jude, That crust makes we want to cry tears of joy. Beautiful!

  41. katie says:

    Mmmmm…….looks yummy! Great Job!

  42. Maggie says:

    I love the bit of char!

  43. giz says:

    The tutorial is fabulous as is the way you broke down the instruction – good job. You made it really easy to follow. Didn’t you just love this pizza dough – wow – I’m sure many of us will be making it again and again.

  44. Aparna says:

    You actually tossed the pizza into that perfect circle? Wow.
    I think your toppings are the best. Truly “less is more”.

  45. Chaosqueen says:

    I love pizza with this topping, your’s is one of my favorites!
    It looks so wonderful.

  46. PG says:

    wow! That’s such a wonderful pizza! looks so tempting!

  47. natalia says:

    Ciao Your pizza is wonderful ! mine was too thin in the middle ! And your challah…

  48. Argus (Jy) says:

    Good concise and informative story. Love that rustic pie-looking pizza!

  49. Lynne says:

    Great insight on the properties of flour and yeast when combined with other ingredients and allowed to, basically, react the way they should. Your pizza looks like one from an authentic pizzeria with a wood burning stove. Great job!

  50. Brianna says:

    Beautiful pizza jude. I Love the simplicity of it. It really was the best dough wasn’t it :)

  51. Hannah says:

    Classic and delicious pizza- Yours looks really good, of course. Can’t wait to see what you do with the next challenge!

  52. Liliana says:

    Your pizza truly looks authentic! Pizza Martherita is one of my favourites.

    Great photos!

  53. clumbsycookie says:

    This really looks like it came from a pizzeria! Yum!

  54. Vera says:

    Jude, your pizza is absolutely perfect! It makes me hungry :)

  55. Jeremy says:

    The basil baked into the pizza does taste really good though, I want to do a sourdough version!

  56. javapot, maybelle’s mom, sweetbird – My oven only goes to 550 but if the preheated baking stone is on the topmost rack and the broiler is on high, it goes over 600. I have an external oven thermometer.

    Aparna – It took a lot of stretching.. I cheated :)

    Thanks guys!

  57. n33ma says:

    Pizza looks wonderful.Will try the dough your way next time.
    Thanks for dropping by my blog.

  58. Thankful Thursday « Taylor Design says:

    [...] 20, 2008 · No Comments And finally – drumroll please!  The best pizza dough recipe I have found so far.  I’m not too sure about the proper tossing method, I had [...]

  59. tip_the_canoe says:

    I was looking for an authentic Napoli-style dough, and this is by far the closest approximation i’ve found out there. Made it a few times now and have had differing results based on the flour yeast i used. Surprisingly the non-instant yeast seemed to work better!

  60. Tip, I always have trouble with fresh yeast so I favor instant yeast in bread recipes. Maybe the yeast sold in my local groceries aren’t quite fresh enough.

  61. Homemade Pizza « Sharon Mah says:

    [...] lots of pizza recipes and Thomas would make it. We cobbled together bits and pieces of different recipes, methods and instructions, and away we [...]

  62. Buffalo Mozzarella 101 | Talk of Tomatoes says:

    [...] bonus: a fantastic pizza dough recipe thrown in! Add to my list of things to try: Pizza Napoletana Margherita (with Mozzarella di [...]

  63. pizzaguy says:

    great pics.

    looks a bit crackery though

    saw reinhart’s full neopolitan recipe with the tips from in his book at

    I have read about a guy who tried to duplicate the pizza hut pan pizza. He tried over 30 different times and found the best crust was with a normal room temperature rise.
    could be pan pizza is different?

  64. SteveInOakland says:

    Nice sharing of information. A few facts about the flour and its simple sugar content deserve attention to those who are serious. Flour has enzymes that slowly turn starch into simple sugars, so know your flour age. Water hydrates proteins that form chains to form the gluten net, developed during kneading. Accordingly I like to build a biga by adding flour and water to yeast without manipulation (half of each) then after 18-24 hours add the 2nd half of flour and make the dough. Slow proof in fridge is surely the way to go.

    Tip: Dump the corn meal for anti friction for forming the pizza on parchment paper (cut a square and put right on stone). You will love the results. If paper starts to burn, pull it out (lifting dough with peel). Also, have a pizzaiolo help you push out a proper round dough. Once you observe it and practice the dough will be perfectly round.

  65. joe says:

    the full directions from the book can be seen at:

  66. margherita pizza recipe says:

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  67. Pizza Køpenhavn says:

    Er du sulten, og har du ikke tid og lyst til selv at lave mad? Så check denne side ud! Her kan du finde navn og adresse på pizzeriaer nær dig.

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  70. Lydelle says:

    I also wasn’t able to achieve the amount of heat necessary in order to put seriously consider chasing the perfect pizza. However, that changed when my wife convinced me to pick up an outdoor oven made for baking pizzas. Now with recipes like this and having the fire power to behind me, I’m sure I’m a step closer to nearing the perfect pizza! :)

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