Pizza dishes have been said to date back as early as the Egyptians and used throughout many other Mediterranean countries in the past. But pizza as we know it today with a flatbread crust, a layer of tomato sauce, cheese and toppings was created in Naples in the 1700s. Legend has it that the famous “Margherita Pizza” was invented in 1889 when Queen Margherita of Savoy (the first queen of unified Italy who was married to King Umberto I) went to Naples and the pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito created this pizza to represent the Italian flag: red (tomato sauce), white (mozzarella cheese) and green (basil). The queen loved it so much that Raffaele decided to name the pizza after her. Therefore, it is safe to say that modern pizza was born in Naples and is now a global representation of Italian cuisine that has had many various interpretations world-wide. So let’s get back to the basics. Even if you don’t have a brick oven here is a recipe that still lets you eat like the Queen.Makes: 4-6 pizzas
Preparation: 2 hours
Pizza dough Ingredients:
2 ½ C. warm water
6 Tbs. olive oil (extra virgin)
2 tsp. sugar
About 1 ¾ Tbs. salt
3 C. tomato sauce
1 lb. chopped mozzarella
fresh basil leaves
extra-virgin olive oil
- In small glass bowl mix brewer’s yeast, a glass of warm water and sugar and stir to dissolve all ingredients. Let sit until yeast starts to activate and bubbles start to form.
- Do the same thing with salt in another small glass cup.
- Sift the flour into a large bowl and create a hole in the center. Pour in the yeast and salt mixtures and olive oil and mix together with a spatula.
- Slowly add the remaining water (using more if needed) and mix together using your hands until dough is formed.
- Put dough onto a floured surface and knead until you have an elastic ball.
- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and leave it to rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours (until the dough doubles in size).
- In the meantime prepare the tomato sauce base by adding some olive oil (2-3 Tbs.) and salt to taste.
- Chop the mozzarella into small cubes.
- After the dough has risen divide into 4-6 equal parts and form small balls to be rolled out into circular pizzas. (This can be difficult because the dough will want to shrink but keep at it!)
- Top the dough with desired tomato sauce, mozzarella and drizzle a little extra olive oil.
- Bake at 400 F. for about 15 minutes.
- Once the pizza is done (with a browned crust) take it out of the oven and top with fresh basil leaves.
There you have it. You are now ready to become a pizzaiolo and serve your guests a pizza fit for royalty. Now that’s a good pizza pie!