It is said that, in June 1889, Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito created the first pizza Margherita in honour of Queen Margherita of Savoy, using ingredients that had the same colours of the Italian flag: basil (green), mozzarella (white) and tomato (red). It seems that the new pizza aroused Her Majesty’s enthusiasm.
Tomato pizza already existed. It dated back to the second half of the seventeenth century, when tomato growing began to spread throughout Italy. Tomato sauce was then added to the flat bread, known as pizza, from the Greek word pitta ( πίττα, i.e. baked ), whose simplest version was first created by a Homo erectus...
Ingredients (serve 4 people)
850 g (30 oz) of flour
350 ml ( 11.8 oz) of water
35 g (1.2 oz) of yeast
500 g (17.6 oz) of tomato sauce
150 g (5.2 oz) of mozzarella
a few leaves of fresh basil
extra-virgin olive oil
Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water, add the salt and the flour, then knead it until you get a soft and smooth dough. Put it into a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let it stand for about 3 hours, until its volume has doubled. Roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin – to prevent it from sticking - until it is approximately 5 mm (0.19 in) thick.
Pour a little oil onto the bottom of a baking tray and spread out the dough, then add the tomato sauce, the salt and the oregano. Season with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Pizza may be baked both in an electric and in a gas oven. I prefer using a gas oven, as pizza gets crispier. I recommend that you preheat the oven to 482 °F and slightly lower the temperature – 59°F will suffice – a couple of minutes before putting the pizza into the oven. Bake it for about 15 minutes. Halfway through the cooking, add the diced mozzarella. Before serving, garnish with a few leaves of fresh basil.