Pizza Margherita is to many the true Italian flag. According to popular tradition, in 1889, 28 years after the unification of Italy, during a visit to Naples of Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I, chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi and his wife created a pizza resembling the colors of the Italian flag, red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). They named it after the Queen – Pizza Margherita.
- 2 lb Italian “00” flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 oz fresh yeast
- 2 cups water
- ⅜ oz salt
- ½ cup 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, make 6 loaves and mildly 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.
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 it immediately.