Pizza is one of the oldest, best loved foods all over the world. For hundreds of years, topping trends have come and gone, yet little else has changed about this flat bread concoction. It is still made with hand-kneaded dough, baked in a brick oven, and topped with the freshest ingredients, just like it was years ago. There are different types of dough and, although the differences are minor, each produces a slightly different yet equally delicious end result.
Neapolitan pizza is as classic as it gets. It is the traditional large, round pie made with a flat, thin bottom and a wide, airy edge. The traditional recipe for this crust includes extra-finely ground, high-protein flour, water, salt and yeast. It is how the dough is made that gives it its great texture and airy crust. Overdone or underdone and the crust is ruined; so as simple as this pizza may seem, there is definitely a unique way to make it.
The secret to the best Neapolitan crust is cold fermentation. This is done by refrigerating the mixed dough for at least two days. Once removed, dough balls are left to slowly warm and rise for about two hours, after which they are then used to make a pizza.
A Neapolitan pizza is best when baked at a very high heat in wood or brick ovens for a short period of time – between one and two minutes. The bottom crust dries enough so it is not chewy and the edge crust gets light and airy. Toppings on the pie cook just enough to stay crisp and flavorful. The traditional Neapolitan requires a plate, knife, and fork since the crust is so thin. It is the most flavorful of all the pizza pies.
The New York
Also known as the ‘modern’ pie, New York pizza is similar to the Neapolitan with a few differences. This pizza is defined by its slightly thicker bottom crust and ability to fold – known as the New York fold – in the middle. It is baked at a lower heat for up to 15 minutes, cooking the ingredients more slowly while the crust finishes.
New York style pizza dough is made with bread flour, oil, water, salt, sugar, and yeast. The oil helps it stay moist during longer cooking and keeps it pliable for easy folding. The crust stays flatter and the ingredients dry a bit more, making it easy to eat. This may not be the most traditional pie, but it is probably the most popular one sold by the slice in cities across the world.
Known as the ‘square’ pie, Sicilian pizza has the thickest crust of all, up to an inch or more. Layered with sauce, cheese, and other toppings, a loaded Sicilian pie is a family favorite, providing 12 to 16 big, thick slices.
Sicilian pizza is made with the same dough as the New York style; however, the cooking method is different. This pie is made from a thick layer of dough that is shaped into a deep, square pan that is liberally covered in olive oil. Once in the oven, the crust bottom fries in the pan and slowly cooks throughout. Sicilian pizza finishes with a thick, chewy crust and toppings buried beneath lots of stretchy cheese.
Pizza is an amazing food because of the way in which the same ingredients can be used to create such different types of pies, each with different tastes and textures. It is hard not to love pizza and with the different crusts, pizza lovers certainly have their favorites. Why not try a different style crust today?