The United States rivals Italy in its love for pizza...but it’s not every day that you can get a pizza with the European Union’s STG label. Ever seen that label on the pizza menu? If you have it means that you have had an authentic Neapolitan pizza. STG stands for Specialità Tradizionali Garantite (Guaranteed Traditional Specialty). To earn this label your pizza must be prepared with the top quality ingredients and the traditional method of preparation:
No working tools, other than the hands of the chef are allowed (no rolling pin or mechanical press machine, or mixer).
The center of the pizza must be no more than 3mm thick and the crust between 1-2 cm.
The pizza must be baked in a wood-burning brick oven at 485 degrees Celsius (that is 905 degrees Fahrenheit!) for about 90 seconds.
Not all of us have a brick pizza oven that we can heat to 900 degrees, but we can make a decent pizza. Here is what I do to get close to the STG label.
I plan ahead, if we want to have pizza for dinner on Sunday I make the dough Saturday morning:
4 1/2 cups of flour
2 tsps of yeast
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 tsp of salt
2 TBLS of olive oil
Full disclosure: I do break the first rule, I use working tools. I use my beloved KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook! I dissolve the yeast in the warm water in the mixing bowl. Then I add all the ingredients and mix. As needed, I will add a little flour or water, in order to obtain a soft, but not sticky dough. After about 5 minutes of kneading in the mixer, I place the ball of dough in a cloth, sprinkled with a bit of flour. I let it sit all day. Before going to bed I knead the dough for a few minutes and then put it in a ziplock bag and in the fridge until the next evening.
I pull the dough out of the fridge about an hour or so ahead of time. I divide the dough into three balls and start rolling each ball, on a floured surface, into a super thin disc.
I use a perforated pizza pan to bake the pizza. I pre-bake the crust in the oven (preheated to 450 degrees) for about 5-10 minutes. Then I add the toppings to the pizza and finish baking (usually another 10 minutes).
One of my favorite is the famous Pizza Margherita: tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil, often I will add capers to it, just to give it a little something. Key to the Pizza Margherita is the tomato sauce. I use San Marzano peeled tomatoes (not crushed, just the peeled ones). I slightly puree the tomato and add a dash if salt and sometimes a dash of oregano. Nothing else! I spread a very thin layer on the pizza crust, then add the mozzarella and some basil. Then finish baking the pizza for about 10 minutes. When I take it out of the oven I add a little more basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Another favorite, when tomatoes are good is with fresh tomatoes, arugula and parmigiano. I drizzle some olive oil on the crust and then add sliced tomatoes (I extract the extra liquid from the tomatoes by placing the slices on paper towels with a little salt). After baking for about 10 minutes I remove from the oven and add the chopped arugula, shaved parmigiano and another drizzle of olive oil.
Now it is time for me to start making tomorrow night's dinner! And, by the way, if you want to taste the real deal, pizza with the STG label, we have it on our Amalfi Coast and Capri tour. We eat fantastic pizza right outside of Pompeii, then we tour the amazing site and even see some of the bakeries from the life in Pompeii over 2000 years ago! Click here to learn more about the Amalfi Tour.