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Making Neapolitan Pizza with the Pizza Pilgrims

By FDL on

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Making Neapolitan Pizza with the Pizza Pilgrims

Making great pizza - authentic, tasty, perfectly proofed pizza - is not an easy job. It may look simple but it takes years to perfect and when you step into the world of Neapolitan pizza the process gets very precise.

With this in mind FDL recently met up with Thom and James aka The Pizza Pilgrims. Two brothers who have recently come back from a pizza fact finding mission in Italy and now serve authentic Neapolitan pizza to hungry Londoners from the back of their three wheeled Italian van.

They'll be appearing at this year's Taste of London at the San Pellegrino Fruit Beverage Orangery where they'll will be teaching dough throwing master classes and serving up samples of their modern take on authentic Neapolitan pizza. However, before this, FDL thought we'd take the time to sit down with the brothers and get our very own pizza making tips.

The Flour
"Make sure you get the right flour it sounds ludicrous but we import all our flour from Naples and we haven't found a better one. If you use a plain flour the dough you make, even if you do everything else by the book, it won't have enough glutton in it to so it won't have the elasticity you need to make great pizza.

"You're looking for 0.0 flour which means it's very finely ground - almost like talcum powder feel to it. You want a high glutton content - you basically want the strongest flour you can get your hands on - weirdly - strong Canadian bread flour is very good for pizza.

"The dream is Caputo flour from Naples."

The Sauce
"Don't precook your tomato sauce - find the freshest best tomatoes you can, blitz them up, add a little salt and cook them directly on the pizza.

"We just add uncooked, blended, really high quality tomato. A bit of parmesan on with the tomato is very Neapolitan and can add a nice edge to the flavor.

"A really good quality tomato will be sweet and you won't need to add sugar.San Marzano are the officially approved tomato for Neapolitan pizza but they're hard to track down. They're grown on the foothills of mount Vesuvius and have these very thin skins that make them incredibly sweet - they're the best."

Proofing
"Always proof your dough overnight and don't proof it in the fridge. Ideally you want to be proofing dough for pizza at around 19 degrees - a lot of people make their dough the night before put it in the fridge and then wonder why it hasn't proofed.

"Make sure you use fresh yeast - top tip is never buy the packaged yeast. Just go to any supermarket with a bakery and they are obliged to sell you fresh yeast - no one knows about this but if you ask they always have the button for fresh yeast on their till and this makes a big difference.

"The flavor gets better the longer the dough is left to proof but the longer you leave it the harder it is to handle. 48 hours proofed dough tastes the best but it's too hard to work with - we work with around 24-36 hours."

Cooking
"Don't use a conventional oven use a frying pan. We call it the frying pan pizza - you make the dough as usual and take a dry frying pan. Put the pan on the hottest heat you have and then lay the base of the pizza into the pan. No oil or anything - non stick pans will help.

"Top the pizza in the pan and after about a minute check the bottom - you should see the bottom start to crisp and rise - do this for about 2 minutes and then once it has color on the base put it underneath the grill and blast the top. It's a good way to emulate the heat of a proper wood fire oven at home."

Pizza Tossing....
The brothers will be on hand at this year's Taste of London food festival to teach people how to properly toss pizza dough. They'll also be serving up some samples of their pizza fresh from the oven alongside some S.Pellegrino Sparkling Fruit Beverages. They''ll also be holding some pizz throwing competitons with prize draws throughout the day.

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