Perfect Neapolitan Pizza & Sundried Tomato Marinara

The past decade, I’ve been on a search for the perfect pizza crust recipe. I’ve always been partial to thin, crusty Neapolitan style pizzas, and have tried many techniques to achieve such a crust. For years, I tested different types of flour, short and long fermentation times, various pizza stones and pans, yet I never found the chewy, crunchy crust that I longed for.

A few years ago, I shared this recipe for pizza dough, which is a nice dough if you like a softer crust with a decent chew. It also works great when you fry it first, to achieve a ‘Totino’s’ style pizza. However, it is just not the Neapolitan crust of my pizza fantasies.

pizzafantasy

Enter 00 flour. While I’d seen it mentioned on Food Network a time or two, I never really gave much thought to trying it. How big of a difference could a finer ground flour make? The answer, ALL OF IT!

I purchased my first bag of 00 flour a few months ago and followed the recipe on the side of the package. I didn’t expect much, especially considering the short rising time they recommended. If I know anything about proper bread baking, it’s that a longer fermentation (aka rise) time, the better (crunchier.. chewier..) the outcome.

00flour

I went forth with my 00 experiment, and ended up being floored by the results. FINALLY I had achieved the Neapolitan style thin, crunchy crust that satisfied every pizza loving cell in my body! AND IT ONLY TOOK AN HOUR!!! Pizza gods rejoice! πŸ˜€

neapolitanpizza

Ingredients (organic, when possible):

  • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) 00 flour
  • 1 tbs sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (I use coconut sugar)
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups water (Cold water is fine)

Begin by mixing the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast. Slowly add water and mix to create a dough. I use my stand mixer with the dough attachment, but you could easily do this by hand if KNEAD be. (Sorry, I can’t not pun) πŸ˜‰

doughballs

Allow to rise for 15 minutes. Separate the dough into 4 equal portions. I like to weigh them out so they are all even, but you can always eyeball it. At this point, I put two of the dough balls into Ziploc bags and stick them straight in the freezer. (This dough freezes & thaws beautifully, so I like to always have a few frozen ones ready to go.) Allow the remaining 2 dough balls to rise for another 30 minutes. Set oven to 500 degrees F (or as hot as you can).

While they are rising, you can make my favorite marinara! Now, I know that traditionally Neapolitan pizzas use crushed tomatoes as the ‘sauce,’ but I prefer to use a homemade marinara. There’s really two reasons for this; 1: my boyfriend doesn’t like tomatoes when they are chunky, and 2: this marinara is soooo delicious I’ll use any excuse to eat it! πŸ˜€

sundriedtomatomarinara

Ingredients (organic, if possible):

  • 1/4 large onion (any color), diced
  • 2 large or 4 small cloves garlic, diced
  • 12 pieces sundried tomatoes (in oil), diced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch red pepper flakes

Begin by sauteing the onions and garlic in olive oil. Cook until translucent, then add the sundried tomatoes and cook 1-2 minutes. Add the entire can of tomato paste, along with 2 cups of water. Mix well. At this point, I use an immersion blender to puree the ingredients. You could alternatively use a stand up blender. After the marinara is pureed, add the seasonings and mix well. You can now remove from heat and pour into a jar for storage. Keep on the counter until sauce reaches room temperature prior to refrigeration. Marinara will keep in the fridge for a week or so, or you can freeze it for long term storage.

saucing

Now that your dough has risen, oven’s preheated, and marinara has been made, you are ready to assemble your delicious pizzas! Stretch the dough to form a disc and place disc on a parchment paper lined baking sheet or pizza stone. Top evenly with your yummy marinara and add whatever cheeses and toppings your little heart desires. Bake at 500 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

pizzayum

I’ve made this pizza many times now, and it is a no fail, quick, and easy recipe to use! It would really shine in a pizza oven, as I’m still unable to get the charred crust that can only come from a proper wood-fired pizza oven. Maybe one day…. πŸ™‚

Ciao for now!

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