April 1, 2016 |

Respecting the Craft: We’re not in Naples

By Tony Gemignani

Location makes all the difference when it comes to Neapolitan dough recipe

Tony Gemignani World-champion Pizzaiolo and Pizzeria Owner

Tony Gemignani
World-champion Pizzaiolo and Pizzeria Owner

I had a student come and ask me for a Neapolitan dough recipe and I told him I had several. I explained that it really depends on where you are making it, what conditions you are in and what flour you are using. He didn’t understand what I meant and thought I needed to explain it to him even further. He was from California and had a new pizzeria. I asked him several questions about his place. Ultimately, I gave him a recipe that I typically give to my students from the U.S. if they aren’t in extremely hot climates.

After he read the recipe he said that he had seen recipes that are different than mine and that my yeast was a lot higher than the recipe he had on hand.

“I bet your recipe came from someone from Naples,” I said. He looked surprised and admitted that it did. I asked him, “Well, how did it turn out?” As expected, he said that his dough didn’t rise enough.

neapolitan pizzaMaking Neapolitan dough in the U.S. can be different than making dough in Naples, especially if you’re doing a cold fermentation. Therefore, I believe adjustments should be made. Using the recipe from Naples, this particular pizzeria owner tried a cold fermentation (letting the dough rise in your refrigerator) and it didn’t come out right. Even though he had the perfect environment for making dough, we discovered that it was almost too cold in his restaurant. So I knew his dough wouldn’t have risen well.

I just came back from Naples where I was with a group of pizza experts and we worked on several dough recipes in a flour laboratory. Over three days we spent a lot of time discussing different dough recipes and different methods. In the end, we all agreed that formulating recipes based on your location and conditions is important. Blindly follow a recipe from a different geographic region and you may not have the results you want.

Next month I’m going to give you a look at some of the differences between dough making in Naples versus dough making in the United States. This will help you better understand the need for tailoring a recipe, even a Neapolitan one, to your locale.

RESPECTING THE CRAFT features World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco and Pizza Rock in Sacramento.  Tony compiles the column with the help of his trusty assistants, Laura Meyer and Thiago Vasconcelos. If you have questions on any kitchen topic ranging from prep to finish, Tony’s your guy. Send questions via Twitter @PizzaToday, Facebook (search: Pizza Today) or e-mail jwhite@pizzatoday.com and we’ll pass the best ones on to Tony.