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March 8, 2021

Making Pizza at Home - The Ultimate Authentic Experience

If you’ve tried our Neapolitan Pizza recipe, you will love this one. In this article, we will show you to make a perfect authentic Neapolitan Pizza Margherita (sorry, we just love Neapolitan pizza) in your Ooni oven.

So bring out your finest tools and ingredients and put on some Dean Martin in the background. To get as close as possible to the real Italian experience, we will use the approved percentages of a real Vera Pizza Napoletana.

Tools needed:

  • Small bowl or glass for the yeast mixture
  • Big bowl for our main mix
  • Spatula (optional)
  • A bowl for proofing
  • Proofing box

Ingredients needed (makes 4 pizzas):

  • 356 ml Water (room temperature)
  • 1.1g Fresh yeast (or 0.44g instant yeast)
  • 547g Strong flour (preferably Tipo 00)
  • 16.4g Salt + 3g salt for the tomato sauce
  • 250g Fior di latte (Mozarella)
  • 1 can of San Marzano whole tomatoes
  • A bit of Parmesan or Pecorino

Getting your yeast ready

Take your yeast and mix it with a small part of your room temperature water. Throw in 1/4 cup of your flour and mix everything around. Let it activate for 10 minutes. Less than 1.1g of yeast can ruin your pizza as it will not rise properly. Similarly, using more yeast it will make your pizza sour. So, an appropriate proportion of yeast is necessary to make a magical fluffy dough.

An interesting about yeast is that you need just the right temperature water to be able to get a predictable outcome. If you mix the yeast with ice-cold water, it will die. If you mix it with too hot water, it will die. So we want the temperature to be somewhere around 30C (86F) to get the most out of our yeast.

yeast best water temperature

Preparing the dough ingredients

Now it’s time to pour our remaining water into a big bowl where we will start off our dough. Then pour in the yeast mixture and give it a good mix. Next up is the flour. Add 547g of strong flour and sprinkle 16.4g of salt to it and give it a good mix with a spoon or with your hands.

Kneading the dough

We will knead everything inside our bowl until all the flour has been fully absorbed, then we will take it out and start working it on our desk for about 15-20 minutes. We do this to build up the gluten properly.

So once we’re done mixing everything in our bowl, let’s take our dough out and start working it on a hard surface. We may need to dust a little bit of flour to avoid dough sticking to our hands. 

Gather all the dough and form it in the shape of a cylinder. Put your palm on the end of the dough and start to pull it from the other end. Just before the point, it starts to break, give it a small fold. Fold it like you roll a kitchen tissue. Keep repeating the process till you get a smooth surface on the top of the dough. Now you flip the dough and repeat the same process on the other side. Try to not tear the dough as that will destroy the gluten network we’re building up.

Tip: You may use some oil on your palms if the dough keeps sticking to your hand.

Proofing the dough

First, we will bulk ferment our dough before dividing it into smaller portions. To do this, we will create a big ball from the dough and squeeze in the bottom so the outer skin of the dough becomes tense. Then we just oil up our proofing bowl and place the ball of dough inside. We will let it rest for 2 hours or until it doubles in size.

The reason we start off with bulk fermentation is that it expands the population of microorganisms. It also creates alcohol and the alcohol is what gives the subtle flavors and aromas in your pizza. Bulk fermentation also develops acids, which gives strength to the dough.

Yeast is alive. As soon it gets in contact with water, it starts to move. As it gets in contact with flour, it starts to feed. The yeast bacteria create air. Oxygen goes bubbling throughout the dough. As it goes on bubbling, the dough increases in size. It should double at least. The dough becomes very elastic.

When our bulk fermentation is done, take out the ball and cut it into four equal parts (230-240g each). Roll these into four new balls and tense the outer skin. Put them in a proofing box and make sure no air can get in.

Put them aside at room temperature for around 12-18 hours and the next day it’s showtime.

Making the tomato sauce

Take your can of San Marzano tomatoes and pour out the sauce they come in because it’s typically made from lower quality tomatoes. For each 100g of tomatoes, we add 1 gram of salt. A small can tends to give you around 300g of tomatoes, so we add 3 grams of salt to it. Add a teaspoon of tomato paste to it and drizzle olive oil generously. Add a few leaves of fresh basil and go in with your mixer. Place some plastic foil over it and place it in the fridge until you’re ready to make your pizzas.

Shaping the pizza and applying toppings

Now it’s time to do what we’ve so eagerly been waiting for, shape the pizza, and apply the toppings.

Take your first dough ball, press it down with your palm to make it thinner. If you accidently rip a hole in the pizza, do not try to pinch it with your hand. Instead, take a small amount of pizza dough from the side and fill the hole with it. Anyway, use your fingers to press down the middle of the pizza and work your way outwards. Doing this, we’re moving the air outwards, making the cornichones (the corners) light and fluffy once we bake it.

Now get your tomato sauce and pour a tablespoon in the middle of your pizza. Using the back of the spoon, move it in a circle outwards to cover your whole pizza with sauce. Make sure you move away the sauce from the middle, because that’s the thinnest part of the pizza and too much sauce there can cause it to either break or become soggy.

For each pizza, you would be needing at least 50-60g of mozzarella. Cut it into small pieces but not too small. If you cut it in big pieces, it won’t evaporate, leaving the pizza watery. If you cut it in too small pieces, they will just burn. 

Also do not overload the pizza with too much cheese. You want to eat the pizza with mozzarella, not mozzarella with pizza.

Drizzle the pizza with some little olive oil, it will help to develop the flavor in the pizza. Now you have reached the stage to make a classical Margherita pizza. You will be needing parmesan cheese. Parmesan should be spread in the shredded form atop of pizza. If you don’t have Parmesan, rest assured that Pecorino will do the job. Personally I prefer a mixture of them both.

Finish it off by adding some basil leaves on top of it. This will complete the color of the Italian flag in your Margherita. You can do this before or after it’s been baked. I prefer to add the basil after the oven, it looks much better. Enough talking, it’s time to shove the pizza into our oven.

Firing up the Ooni Koda

Before putting the pizza into the oven, we will need to heat it up for about 15-20 minutes, to get a temperature of around 450C (842F). We will use the Ooni Koda here. A gas-driven beauty that can last you a lifetime if you treat it right. If you ask me, cooking the pizza in this oven vs cooking it in a regular oven is a day and night difference. It’s an investment worth every single penny. And if you’re more into the wood taste (even more authentic), they also have the Ooni Pro model, a wood-fired oven that’s been getting magnificent reviews from everywhere.

Anyway, back to our pizza. You can check the temperature with a temperature gun if you want to go really advanced, but it should be good to go after 15 minutes.

Cooking the pizza

Now put your pizza into the oven using the peel. 

Tip: Remember to put some semolina on the peel as it will allow it to slip a top of it and slide it into the oven. Try not to use too much semolina as it will make your pizza look burned from the button. Just put enough semolina necessary for the pizza to slide a top of your peel.

Just slide the pizza in there with no hesitation. Give it 20 seconds and then rotate it 45 degrees. Allowing at least 20 seconds for every side of the pizza. This will prevent your pizza from burning. Keep rotating it until your pizza is properly cooked. After about a minute and a half, your pizza should be ready. Bring it out and cut it down into the pieces and enjoy. 

To conclude, the Ooni Koda is a lot of fun for your backyard party. It cooks fast and of course, the results are also splendid. It gives you the perfect pizza surface like any traditionally wood-fired pizza oven, it just lacks the wood aftertaste. Of course, the trick of good pizza making does not lie solely in the ingredients, it is also in the quality of the oven. So pick up an Ooni Koda or an Ooni Pro and become a living pizza icon among your friends.

Camilla Fatticcioni
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