Why Wood Fired Pizza (Otherwise Known as Neapolitan Pizza)?
Quite simply there is no better way to cook pizza….FACT!
How it began…. Wood Fired Pizza originated in Naples Italy, in the 1800’s. The locals would combine dough with great local produce that they had at their disposal the Campania region (San Marzano tomato from Mount Vesuvius, fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella) as a cheap way to feed the poor.
How do Wood Fired Ovens Work? Wood Fired Ovens cook at a blistering heat of up to 500 Degrees Celsius, which means it only takes 60-90 seconds to cook each pizza, when the oven is at full temperature. The flames from the burning wood give a wonderful char and smoky characteristic that you simply cannot get from a conventional gas or electric oven. It is this distinctive char and smokiness along with the speed at which these ovens can cook the pizzas that makes them so unique. The roaring hot stone cooks the pizzas from the bottom up, while the flames cook the pizzas from the top down.
Some Interesting Facts…. Pizza is taken extremely serious in Italy, particularly in Naples, the home of pizzas. They take it so seriously they have their own version of Pizza Police, the Association of Vera Pizza Napoletana or “The Association of True Neopolitan Pizza”. These guys are the body that certify pizzerias as being true Neapolitan Pizzerias or not. They even have their own very strict rules as to what makes a true Neapolitan Pizza. We are the only pizzeria in Ireland to follow all their rules, don’t want the pizza shades on our backs now do we J
The 10 rules of The Association of True Neopolitan Pizza
1) Pizza dough must be made with flour, water, yeast and salt only. No additives such as oil, fat, sugar or milk are allowed.
2) Pizza must be no greater than 30 cm. (12 inches)
3)Dough should not be heated by the mixing process. (slow electrical mixers or hand mixing only)
4) Dough must be hand stretched, no rollers or presses.
5) The oven must be made of refractory material such as brick or castable refractory and fired with wood.
6) The pizza must be cooked on the floor of the oven. (no pans)
7) Pizza must be cooked at 400 deg. C. or higher. (750 deg. F)
8) Pizza should be well done, fragrant, with the cornicione (border) high and soft. Pizza should not be crusty.
9) Four styles are well defined: Marinara: tomato, oregano, olive oil, salt Margherita: tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, garlic, basil, salt Al Formaggio: parmesean, lard, garlic, basil, salt Calzone: ricotta, salami, olive oil, salt
10) Variations on the four styles are allowed as long as they are in good taste and do not violate other culinary rules or regulations.
Another interesting fact is origins of the name of the Margherita pizza. A story holds that on 11 June 1889, to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita”, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the national colours of Italy as on the Italian flag.
When it comes to great pizza, here are the 5 most important things:
1) The Wood Fired Oven. Quite simply there is no other way
2) The Dough. Its all about the dough. If you can’t do that right, then forget it. But it takes work and time, a lot of time. Our signature Dough we make using the finest 00 Caputo flour, imported directly from Naples. It is the ancient Neapolitan way using only Flour, Salt, Water and Yeast which is then slow proved in the fridge for up to 3 days, developing our unmistakable taste and soft airy texture, similar to what you would find in Naples itself.
3) The Flour. Its got to be 00 flour and the holy grail is Caputo flour, which is milled in Naples. Why is it the best flour? Because they bring the best flour in the world at that particular time (from up to 6 wheat farms) and mill it in Naples. What is 00? Flour comes in grades, with 00 being the finest flour you can get, which is ideal for pizza. Its high in gluten and absorbs water very well which helps give it its elasticity which is so key to pizza making.
4) The Tomato. Our San Marzano tomatoes we also get from Naples. Why San Marzano, like Caputo flour, San Marzano are the holy grail of tomatoes when it comes to pizza. Why is this so? San Marzano’s are grown at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, in soil that is very high in natural minerals. This produces a tomato with a distinctive long body, with a light skin that is one of the sweetest in the world. Perfect for pizza. Simply hand crush, add a touch of salt, garlic and that’s it! Belissimo!
5) The Cheese. Anyone who knows pizza knows it’s all about the Buffalo Mozzarella. So Soft, creamy and delicious. There is fantastic buffalo mozzarella to be found also in the Campania region. But we have our own fantastic producers here in Toonsbridge, Co Cork. If you cant get your hands on Buffalo, Fior Di Latte (creamy cow mozzarella, again from the campagnia region) is the next best thing…delicious