PIZZA TRADITIONAL OR AMERICAN PIZZA?
Pizza dough the way you want it! From Neapolitan to New York-style pizza!
Though there was a perfect pizza dough? That you will make a great pizza every time? It is possible, but I have to disappoint you, there is no perfect dough for all types of pizza. Whether you work at home or want to open a pizzeria. The first step to a good pizza is choosing a style!
FIND YOUR STYLE!
That’s right! If you want to be good at baking pizza, you have to choose the style you want to work with. If you start with a title like “perfect pizza dough” and don’t know what you need to get, you won’t get anywhere.
Once you’ve decided what style of pizza you want to make, you can start thinking about how to achieve it. The basis for a good pizza is dough and temperature. The fillings are a secondary matter, to note, the amount of fillings is as important as the type we want. But we will talk about that a little later.
A brief history of pizza
In order to better understand the styles and how they developed, it is good to know the history of pizza.
The history of this dish is more or less well known. A significant event in the development of pizza occurred during the 15th century with the arrival of tomatoes in Europe from South America. For a long time, tomatoes were considered poisonous and served only as an ornament in gardens. However, hunger forced the Neapolitan peasants to put tomatoes on the dough. That was the birth of pizza!
During the 17th and 18th centuries, mozzarella made from buffalo milk began to be put on pizza, it became so popular that guests from all over Italy started arriving to try this delicious peasant dish. It was sold at open stands and prepared by baking masters, known in Italy as Pizzaioli.
The modern history of pizza
The popularity of pizza outside the borders of Italy begins at the end of the 19th century with the mass emigration of Italians to the United States of America. In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi opened the first pizzeria in New York. But pizza still remained only in Italian circles.
Only after the 2nd World War, with the return of American soldiers from Italy, pizza became popular throughout America and Western Europe. After American stars of Italian origin like Frank Sinatra and Joe DiMaggio began to promote it, pizza experienced its peak. The first mass pizzeria chains like Pizza Hut are opening and this dish is conquering the whole world.
Understanding the history of pizza is important to understand the development of all its styles. We have styles that developed in Italy and are still their traditional dishes, such as Neapolitan or Sicilian pizza.
Likewise, a large number of ways of preparing pizza come from America, where it was eaten and popularized. Italian communities developed styles that were named after the cities and regions where those communities lived and where those dishes originated.
Neapolitan pizza – Neapolitan
When you think of pizza, you probably think of the traditional version from Naples. This is a classic pizza served in restaurants and pizzerias around the world.
The original Neapolitan pizza consists of a thin, evenly developed dough, which is made from type 00 flour, extra virgin olive oil, yeast, salt, and water. Tomato sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella is made from buffalo milk, and a few basil leaves are added after baking.
Due to the high temperature of the oven and the thin dough, it is baked in less than 120 seconds. This is why it is popular in pizzerias and as fast food.
Some additional details for authentic Neapolitan pizza:
Although you can see all kinds of sizes of this pizza, from pizzettes to huge jumbo versions. The original Napolitano should be about 30 centimeters and served as a dish for one person.
Pizza is not cut into pieces and is eaten with a knife and fork. True, in the 18th century they would just roll it up and eat it with their hands, but over time that changed and now it is served as a full dish.
The sauce, cheese oil, and pepper in the middle create a wet hot mixture like the center of a volcano. Many people think it is wrong, but in Italy, it is the original Neapolitan pizza
In 2009, the European Union classified Neapolitan pizza as part of the European heritage. Every pizzeria that makes that pizza must adhere to strict rules regarding the way it is made and the ingredients. Only San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo milk mozzarella can be used.
2. Chicago style
This pizza was created in the 1900s in the city of Chicago, after which it got its name. It was invented by Ied Swell, an Italian immigrant who wanted to create a new type of pizza that would have common points of contact with Neapolitan pizza.
He created a pizza that has a thicker dough, the edges are raised like an American pie, and the filling is arranged in reverse of the more familiar version. Mozzarella, minced meat or spicy sausages, onions, mushrooms, and pepper are first placed on the dough. A larger amount of tomato sauce is placed on top and, if desired, we can sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
This pizza takes a long time to bake. Because of the thicker dough, more filling and sauce that goes on top. It is baked in a pan that is previously greased with oil to make it easier to remove the pieces. Baking can take between 30-35 minutes.
3. Sicilian style – sfincione
This pizza looks like a distant, old cousin of the Chicago version. But there are two obvious differences. This pizza is baked and cut into square pieces. The dough is thicker but spongier than all other types of pizza.
If you order a pizza in Sicily, you don’t think you’ll get this version. Although it is their traditional dish, restaurants still serve round pizza. This version is served in households usually for Christmas and New Year.
Although the dough is thicker, the traditional filling for this pizza is not abundant. The Sicilian version consists of tomato sauce, onions, herbs, and salted anchovies, and is covered with breadcrumbs.
To enhance the taste of the dough, grease the pan with olive oil before baking. Bake in a preheated oven at 220 C for 15 to 20 minutes.
4. New York style
new york style pizza
New York-style pizza is similar to Neapolitan, but there are differences. Some will tell you that the minerals from the water that flows through New York create such a special pizza dough.
The dough for this style must still be thin, but still not as thin as in Neapolitan. It should be thick enough to fold a piece of pizza in half. So we can eat standing up, without the necessary utensils. This is conditioned by the fast pace of life in that metropolis.
The toppings for this type of pizza can be different. From sausages, mushrooms, salted anchovies, and various spices. If you want an original pizza in this style, it is necessary, just like the Neapolitan one, to bake it in a wood, electric, or gas oven, the taste remains quite similar to the original.
Types of pizza dough
After a brief overview of the history of pizza and familiarization with different styles, use the tips below and create pizza dough to your liking. Create your own secret combination!
Although imperceptible and often overlooked, dough is the most important component of pizza. No matter how high-quality and fresh your ingredients are, how good the combination of ingredients is, or what spices you use, without a good test, everything falls apart.
According to its composition, the dough looks like a very simple thing. Flour, water, yeast, salt, and oil. The secret is in a good relationship, the quality of the oil, and most importantly, the type of flour as the main ingredient. Depending on what kind of dough we want to get, we choose between types of flour.
Understanding the proportion of gluten in the flour
In order to be able to decide which flour to use, it is important to understand the differences between types of flour. Such as smooth flour, sharp, mixed, and special flours such as those for cakes and pasta.
If you take a closer look at the flours, you will notice that they differ in texture. Smooth flours (gluten content 8-10%) for cakes are soft and finely ground. While the hard flour (gluten content 12-14%) that we use when kneading bread, has a much coarser texture. Mixed flour ie. the one we use the most at home contains 10-12% of gluten.
Gluten is a protein that, when wet, creates elasticity throughout the dough and gives it elastic, rubbery properties. Mixing the dough creates bubbles, which are caused by the CO2 released when the yeast ferments and digests the gluten strands, causing the dough to rise.
The amount of gluten determines how rubbery and elastic the dough will be. That’s why we never put hard flour in cakes and pasta because no one wants their cakes to be tough.
Choosing the right flour for your dough
The choice of flour depends on what kind of dough we want to get. That is, what style of pizza we want to achieve. Do we want a thin Neapolitan or New York-style dough, or thicker pizza dough from Chicago?
Different flours will give you different results. So feel free to experiment until you find the perfect combination.
Mixed flour for all purposes – as the name suggests, you can use this flour for all types of pizzas. It will be good in all situations, but sometimes it can harden the dough too much and make it tough. It’s good for a Sicilian type of pizza that needs to be spongier, as well as a version of Chicago pizza. Although you can use it on a smaller scale for New York and Neapolitan styles.
Sharp bread flour – most people use this flour when making pizza at home. It’s readily available at all grocery stores, it’s cheap, and it adds extra crunch to thinly rolled New York pizza dough. You will notice that this dough does not crack when you stretch it, but sometimes it can be a problem that it is very difficult to knead. It is not easy to develop it to the desired thickness. Every time you stretch it, it returns to its original shape, this is due to the high content of gluten in this flour.
If you want to make Neapolitan-style pizza, you need to get a dough that is super thin in the middle and rises at the ends. For that, you will need to use Caputo type 00 flour. This type of flour is more expensive and not available in regular stores. Type 00 is the finest possible ground flour and contains 12.5% gluten, just enough to make the dough soft but not too elastic. If you use this flour, make sure that your oven temperature is over 260 degrees Celsius, otherwise, the dough will not bake well.
Experiment and have fun!
The path to the perfect pizza begins with choosing the flour and kneading the dough. And while there is no best type of flour or best dough, there are significant differences in flour types that you should know before you start making pizza. Also, don’t forget what style you want to do.
We wish you to have fun experimenting and eat delicious pizzas!