In old Napoli around the corner from the porn cinema off the Piazza Garibaldi, a crowd stands in an alleyway. Clouds of smoke and steam drift like competing phantoms in the sultry evening air. At a window in the wall men in stained white uniforms exchange rounds of folded bread for folded note. Boys and girls, old and young men tear at the thick bread, revealing tomato, mozzarella, basil and an aroma that is enticing and intriguing. It is a daily activity, and the pizzaioli who make these red, white and green pizzas of legend never seem to stop or take a break.
The not so humble pizza is an old fast food, arguably one of Europe’s most loved.
Rarely made in the home without a pizza oven, those who know what they are doing produce pizza to die for. Why else would you want to see Naples.
250 g 00 flour 250 g strong white flour 350 ml water 225 g biga 25 g olive oil 15 g yeast 1 tsp salt
Activate yeast in 50ml of lukewarm water, add to flour and salt in a large bowl, the remainder of the water and mix with a wooden spoon.
Gradually add the biga in small pieces, mixing with the spoon.
Finally drizzle in the olive oil, using the spoon to bring the ingredients together.
Turn out onto a floured surface. Begin kneading, about 25-30 minutes.
Leave to rise for two hours, degas once.
Dough temperature should be 23-24°C.
Divide dough into desired sizes, roll out and leave for 20-25 minutes while preparing the classic pizza topping, the Margherita of 19th century Italian legend.
Bake in the hottest oven you can find, about eight to ten minutes.
The days when this pizza was topped with tinned plum tomatoes and sheep’s cheese with a hint of mozzarella are long gone from serious trattoria. Nowadays the topping is likely to be San Marzano tomatoes squeezed and stretched over the dough, dotted with pieces of mozzarella.
If you are lucky you might get more olive oil and one or two basil leaves to complete the picture.
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