Pizza Margherita in 4 easy stepsA widespread belief says that in June 1889 the pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito, Pizzeria Brandi's chef, invented a dish called "Pizza Margherita" in honor of the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, and the Italian unification, since toppings are tomato (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green), representing the same colors of the national flag of Italy. The legend of pizza Margherita is considered a false history, as a pizza made with the same toppings was already present in Naples between 1796 and 1810, although it probably was not called "Margherita". In 1830, in the book Napoli, contorni e dintorni, written by Riccio, it was described as a pizza with tomato, mozzarella and basil. In 1849 Emanuele Rocco recorded different pizza toppings like basil, tomatoes and thin slices of mozzarella; the mozzarella was thinly sliced, and arranged with a flower-shape over the tomato sauce, along with the basil leaves: this may be the real origin of the name Margherita (meaning daisy).
- 2 lb Italian "00" flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 oz fresh yeast
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb mozzarella cheese
- basil leaves to taste
- 1 lb canned tomatoes
- salt to taste
On a wooden or marble work surface, shape the flour into a well. Place the yeast, salt and warm water in the center. Be careful not to let the salt come in contact with the yeast. Knead the dough vigorously with your hands for 15-20 minutes, or in a mixer, until the dough is soft and smooth. Once you have the right consistency, adding a bit of water or flour if necessary, shape the dough into a ball. Cover with a plastic bowl so that the dough is protected from the air. Let rise for 3 or 4 hours at room temperature for about an hour in a warm place. Once the dough will be doubled in volume, ricavatene 6 loaves, modellateli in spherical shapes, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and let them rise at room temperature for a couple of hours or in a warm place for about 45 minutes. As soon as the loaves have doubled in volume, prepare the tomato sauce and place it in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and 1/3 of the olive oil. Knead the dough, then flattening them using your fingers.
Use a ladle or a spoon to spread a good amount of tomato sauce on the pizza. Then, cover with mozzarella, torn into pieces. Garnish with a couple leaves of basil and bake in a 480° F oven for 5 or 6 minutes.Once ready, remove the pizza from the oven. Garnish with more basil and a drizzle of oil. Serve immediately.