Pizza Margherita is a true Neapolitan dish. A Neapolitan pizza is a style made with tomatoes and mozzarella.
Now Italian officionados get very particular here, especially since the making of Neapolitan pizza is classified as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. There is even a Neapolitan pizza association that decides on these rules.
A true pizza napoletana must be made with San Marzano tomatoes, a variety which is more elongated, firmer and sweeter than Roma. Not only this, these San Marzano tomatoes must grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Vesuvius.
The Mozzarella must be Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, a designation of origin cheese made from milk of the Mediterranean water buffalo free-ranging in the marshes of Campania and Lazio.
The dough must be made of very fine wheat flour, natural yeast, salt and water. A strong bread flour with a high protein content is preferable to cake flour. It must be kneaded by hand, or a low speed mixer, and then, when it has without rolling pins or other machines it must be flattened by hand to a thickness of 3 mm or less, and baked for 60-90 seconds in a hot 485 degree centigrade (905 Fahrenheit) oven. That is very little time compared to the process I've seen when working in restaurants, and hotter than our oven can go. It must be a stone oven fueled by oak wood.
That's impressive credentials a true Napoletana must have. I doubt that I've ever tasted one though I've had plenty bearing the name.
Margherita is a type of Neopolitan pizza. It is referred to as the original Neapolitan pizza, but looking at the dates I see other pizza types are older, and more basic. Margherita is similar to Marinara, with Parmesan and basil, rather than oregano. There is debate about its origin and I will leave you to decide. One tradition is that it was created and named after the Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1899 and given the colors of the new Italian flag with green basil, red tomato and white mozzarella to honor Italian unification of 1861. But the recipe is older, and was already found in Naples in 1796. In 1849 a pizza was described having identical ingredients, with the mozzarella thinly sliced and arranged radially which in the perfectly laid pizza when the cheese has melted into the tomato base, gives the pattern of a flower with white petals on a red background. Hence the other story that it is the appearance of a flower which gave rise to its name, margherita meaning daisy in Italian. Who knows both stories may be true. The rich and powerful and their chefs are masters at co-opting humble regional cooking traditions and making them nationally or internationally popular.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: at least 12-13 minutes
Resting time of dough: at least 8 hours
Total time needed: at least 8 H 45 minutes
Grade of Difficulty: standard
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