Pizza Napoletana (Copycat)

‘Pizza Napoletana’ is our hot favourite nowadays… Or at least the copycat version! I can’t tell you how often I have seen the perfect-looking pizza napoletana and wondered how they made it. It typically has this thin crust and is beautifully rounded and raised around the edges (called cornicione) It looks slightly burnt at the top, but the inside of the edges are soft. Soooo beautiful!

Well, it was just another day doing my regular work when You Tube recommended a video that changed that situation for good. It was an awesome video and so, Chef Francesco on one of my favourite channels…Vincenzo’s Plate did me a huge favour! And here is how I modified that with the ingredients available here to me in India.

So yes, the food police would say it is not really the authentic Pizza Napoletana… But hey, I love trying out cuisines from all over the world. And if I have to make some changes in order to have it in my hands, I am not sorry! Well, the authentic version apparently has to be baked only in a wood fire, at over 400 degrees, obviously not possible in my home oven.

And also, it needs to cook very fast… in just 90 seconds!

Well, this post is all about making this classical dish with the available ingredients and resources. If you like to travel the world through food, read on!

Hand-Tossed Pizza

Ever wondered why your homemade pizza had a rather thick look? How to make the homemade pizza crust gorgeous and thin? With a truly delicious taste that is not chewy or tough?

Well it’s because you did not follow the right recipe!

So the first step is to get hold of some sourdough starter or fresh yeast.

Next, get hold of some organic All Purpose Flour. I am actually against buying expensive bread flours. With a bit of tweaking, the experience can be had with the regular maida. No bread flour. I am so against all the fancy bread enhancers that are included in readymade bread flour.

I am using plain maida in this recipe for the pizza base.

However, on many occasions, I go for wholewheat and millets as the ingredients for my bread dough. And even cake batter. Like this recipe for ragi cake that is so delicious. Or this Gongura Chicken buns for bread that incorporates a whole lot of healthy flours from my Instagram feed.

The Recipe for the Pizza Napoletana

If you have got hold of the ingredients, the fun begins!

It’s my current obsession!

First mix
5 tsp salt in 500 ml water
Now stir in 100 g flour.

Now add just 1 tsp of a starter culture and 1/4 tsp of dry yeast. OR 1 g of fresh yeast. OR 1/2 TSP dry yeast

It is now time to add 900 g flour, a little at a time.
Get it together to form a dough.

Now take out on the counter and start kneading.

Tips for pizza napoletana making…

I also have tried doing this in my stand mixer… it is great. Do the part till the dough is formed using a mixer blade and then switch to the dough hook.

Knead till elastic… it will stop sticking to the bowl or the counter. Also, the dough will not break off as soon as you pull off a bit. According to Chef Francesco, you can the temperature of the dough is between 23°C – 26°C, but I didn’t do that. You can read all about it here.

Keep covered for 2 hours. Use a damp cloth. It is imperative that you do not let the dough dry out.

The satisfying hand-tossing!

The dough is rested and ready in two hours. So you can now cut it to form the dough balls… I made 5.

Cover and let it rise a bit for around 2 hours before putting in fridge for bulk fermentation.

If you live in a cool weather condition, you can leave it out on the counter itself. Basically, the dough should become double it’s size after around 12 hours.


If the dough rises too quickly, the temperature is too hot and hence you should shift it to the fridge.

Also remember to leave it on the counter for 2 hours before chilling it if you plan to use it later.

To continue…

This period of letting the dough rise a bit is an important step. Because if you do not let the yeast act, and straightaway put dough in the fridge, the dough will continue to mature but the yeast will not act and do it’s job. Chef Francesco mentioned that it is is important to let both the processes (maturing of the dough and the rising action of the yeast) take place simultaneously.

If you do have to refrigerate overnight, here’s a tip. Ensure you keep it out for an hour at least before putting it in the fridge.

Cover and store in an air tight box. After 6-7 hours on the counter/ in the fridge, the dough balls would have risen to almost double. It will be soft and feel elastic and jiggly.

Now is the time you flour your counter well. Gently take out one dough ball at a time.

Gently press down an inch from the edge, going over to the opposite side, and stopping an inch from that edge.

Turn over, and repeat. After doing this 4 times, it is time to stretch and hand toss the pizza!

Pick up one edge with one hand, slightly stretching the flattened dough. Be careful to not mess up the raised edge. Pick it up and bring it to the wrist of your other hand.

Now flick the wrist and the hand to slap it back to the counter. Repeat this deft motion. Soon, the dough will stretch into the size you wish. Maintain the round shape and try to make the movements smooth. The dough is forgiving and you can reshape it into a circle by slightly adjusting the shape.

Loading the Pizza Napoletana

Most Important!

If you have a pizza stone… good, go for it! It will help the pizza cooked quickly. And if you don’t…

Find a flat iron tawa/griddle. It should have no handles of wood, plastic etc. It can however, have a short iron handle. The condition is that it should fit into your oven. Now, heat it on low heat on the stove. Let it become really hot.


Do the pizza cooking in two stages. This allows the dough to cook properly, without charring the cheese. So, to continue….

Almost Done!

Pick up your flattened pizza dough and place it gently on the hot tawa. It will immediately start cooking. It is time to quickly apply a coat of melted butter or oil. Load it with some awesome shop bought or homemade pizza sauce, being careful to not get it on the raised edges. If you do, it will not rise properly while baking.

Pop the tawa into a really hot oven. The temperature should be as high as your oven will let you. Choose the “grill” option if you have one. In a few minutes, depending on your oven, you will see the pizza cooking.

Once you see that light flecks of brown are appearing on the pizza, take out the tawa. Sprinkle the rest of your toppings on it… classically it is basil leaves and mozarella cheese. Drizzle some olive oil.

I did add more toppings… so go right ahead and do that if you wish!

But get it back into the oven immediately.

Grill till the dough gets a beautiful charred look. The cheese will melt and be absolutely delicious!

Take it out, cut wedges and ENJOY!

Pizza Napoletana (Copycat)

Recipe by Sheetal RabindranCourse: MainDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time




  • Maida (All Purpose Flour) 1 kg

  • Salt 30 g

  • Water 550 g

  • 1 tsp of a starter culture and 1/4 tsp of dry yeast
    OR 1 g of fresh yeast
    OR 1/2 TSP dry yeast

  • Pizza sauce

  • Mozarella Cheese

  • Basil leaves (use dried herbs to sprinkle over if fresh is not available

  • Pizza topping herbs

  • Optional : Other toppings of choice


  • Add salt to the water. Let it dissolve. Add 100-200 g flour. Stir.
  • Mix yeast in this water mixture. Now add rest of flour.
  • Knead till the dough is smooth. It does not break off if pulled. It is stretchy and elastic. Rest covered for 2 hours.
  • Divide into smooth dough balls. Cover and let it sit on the counter top for 8 hours if temperature is between 16 to 18 degrees Celsius. During Indian summers, leave it out for around an hour and a half, and then cover with damp cloth in a box. Store in fridge.
  • When the dough is double in size, shape into the classic pizza napoletana shape.
  • Put on heated griddle and top with oil/butter. Smear the pizza sauce on this. Cook on the hottest temperature setting of your oven till slightly brown.
  • Top with cheese and basil. Pop it back in the oven till black specks appear.
  • Serve immediately.


  • Refer to the notes and tips given in the description above.


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