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I am trying to master the homemade Neapolitan pizza, from dough preparation to cooking it.

After following the recommendations at Seriouseats.com for the dough preparation, I came across some doubts regarding the oven use.

I understand that ideally I would make it in a 900F wood oven, but at home we don't have such equipment!

What is the best practice to make the Neapolitan Pizza in a regular gas oven that heats up to 530F? (i.e. temperature, time, tray positioning...) Are there changes in the way the dough has to be prepared?

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2 Answers 2

I cook a lot of pizza. The biggest issue is that you want browning and leopards spots, but a really short period (under 2 minutes) so that the inside is still moist and fluffy on the cornicione.

I've had luck with three things in my gas oven:

  1. A long, long rise on the dough - a couple of days cold in the fridge. Supposedly what this does is convert more of the natural sugars in the flour. The crust definitely browns better.

  2. A pinch of sugar...yes, I know that Neapolitan Pizza doesn't have sugar. But its also typically baked in a 900F oven...so, you're going to have to compromise. Sugar promotes better color on the pizza.

  3. A big heat source in the oven. A baking stone is good, but the best thing I've found is the baking steel. Preheat the oven for a long time (like an hour) and then slide it on here.

Pizza with these tips, cook time of 90 seconds in a normal home oven:

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Do you really get a well cooked pizza in 90 seconds at 550F? I thought 90" is what you need when you have an oven at 900F! –  samyb8 Mar 2 at 1:57
    
90 seconds is what you get at 900F...but it is possible in a home oven with some tweaks to the dough and a big piece of steel. But those pizza were in at 90 seconds (I think the top one was 120 seconds because the oven was cooling after 3 pizza though). –  rfusca Mar 2 at 3:59
    
I'll have to try the sugar tip. I've done everything that you suggested(steel, 550 long preheat, long rise, plus using the broiler). But I can't get to 90 seconds, I'm right at 120 seconds. –  dpollitt Nov 6 at 3:09

If you are already reading the Pizza Lab columns at Serious Eats, you already have the best reference on the topic (using a home oven, that is) available that I am aware of. You probably already have all of this information, but I am putting it for other readers who may interested.


One thing that Kenji Alt has raved about is using a baking steel, saying "This is the most impressive home pizza product I've ever tested."

Unfortunately, in that same article he also tells us:

Here's the thing: You're never going to be able to produce a perfect Neapolitan-style pie in a home oven. They simply don't get hot enough.

Still, he got fairly credible results by preheating the pizza steel at the maximum oven temperature, with it on the highest rack that would allow a peel in to place and remove the pizzas. He then cooked the pizza (using his basic Neapolitan style dough recipe) on the steel with the broiler going. He indicates the cook time was about 4 minutes.

Of course, this requires an oven with a top broiler.

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So, besides putting my oven up to 520F (max temp), I should use the top broiler? And all this, combined with the Baking Steel would be the best method, right? –  samyb8 Feb 28 at 18:26
    
Yes, use the broiler also. –  rfusca Feb 28 at 19:08

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