Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest, and if you’ve ever tasted a real Neapolitan pizza, you’ll know what we mean. With its rustic appearance and simple, bold flavours, the Neapolitan pizza relies on quality ingredients, sensitively used - a thin, crispy base made from finely ground 'tipo 00' flour, a generous smear of crushed San Marzano tomatoes, a few choice toppings and a scattering of fresh basil.
Making your own Neapolitan-style pizza with smoked ham at home couldn’t be easier. The ingredients speak for themselves, turning a simple pizza into a gourmet experience that will have you wondering why you ever bought pizza from anywhere else.
For the dough
Tipo 00 flour,
Instant or active dry yeast,
For the sauce
Extra virgin olive oil,
For the topping
Smoked ham leg,
¾ cup, shaved
To make the dough
Mix the flour, salt, and yeast together in a medium-sized bowl, stirring until fully combined.
Pour in the warm water and olive oil and keep stirring until you have a rough dough.
Sprinkle some flour onto a clean surface and place the dough onto it.
Knead the dough for around 8 minutes, pushing down with the heel of your hand to stretch it out, then rolling it back in on itself and adding a little flour if it starts to stick. Repeat until the dough is smooth, stretchy and soft.
Dust your hands with a little flour and make the dough into a ball shape by pulling the edges underneath.
Place the ball of dough on a floured surface and dab a little olive oil onto the surface to keep it moist. Cover with a damp towel and leave to prove for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.
To make the sauce
Roughly cut the garlic into several pieces, then place it in a blender with the tomatoes, olive oil, oregano and salt.
Blend all the ingredients together until fully combined
To make the pizza
Place a pizza stone inside your oven and preheat to 500°F (260°C)
Cut the mozzarella into roughly ¼ inch slices and leave to drain on a paper towel for around 15 minutes
Once the dough has proved, leave it on the same floured surface and press it gently outwards into a circular shape, flipping occasionally, and adding extra flour if it begins to stick.
Keep shaping the dough until you have a roughly 8 inch circle, then carefully lift it and drape it over the knuckles of both hands.
Use your hands to rotate the dough, allowing gravity to stretch it for a further 3 inches, so you finish with an 11 inch circle. If the dough begins to resist, lay it back on the counter to rest for a few minutes and it should recover its stretchiness.
Take a pizza peel and sprinkle it with the semolina flour, then carefully place the dough on top
Spread the pizza sauce over the dough base, then add the mozzarella, shaved ham and a little salt.
Use the pizza peel to transfer the pizza to the pizza stone and bake for around 7 minutes, until the cheese has melted.
Remove the pizza from the oven and add the basil.
Cut the pizza into slices and serve while still warm.
Tips for your homemade Neapolitan-style pizza
Get that authentic Neapolitan flavour every time with these simple hints and tips.
Prove the dough for longer
If you have time, try to make the dough 2 or 3 days ahead of time. Leaving it to prove for longer will make the dough extra flavourful and give your pizza a real gourmet edge. Simply store the dough in an airtight container in the fridge until you need it, and remember to choose a container with plenty of room for the dough to grow. When you need to use it again, remove from the fridge 30 to 45 minutes early and leave on a floured surface, covered with a towel, until it has returned to room temperature.
Use the right flour
Tipo 00, or double zero flour is a specialist Italian flour, used to make pasta and pizza. It is ground extra fine for a supple, more responsive dough that won’t tear when you stretch it, and is used by the best pizza restaurants to create that classic thin and crispy Neapolitan crust.
Use the best tomatoes
The key to that authentic Neapolitan flavour is to keep things as simple as possible. Instead of a thick pizza sauce, think crushed tomatoes with just a hint of seasoning. If you can find San Marzano tomatoes, these are the traditional choice for a Neapolitan pizza sauce, thanks to their strong, slightly sweet flavour and juicy, pulpy texture.
For more tips, don’t miss our guide to making the perfect Neapolitan pizza, or if you want some advice from the pizza chefs themselves, take a look at our interview with Thom and James Elliott, founders of London’s popular Pizza Pilgrims chain, where we learn how to make Neapolitan pizza with the Pizza Pilgrims.