Getting the right answers/suggestions about certain recipes on the internet is not so easy. The majority of the content that people get online leaves them confused.
In case you are looking for something simple and easy to follow along for a perfect Pizza Cornicione, we have got you covered. Let us start this conversation by discussing what is it before we talk about the steps to make it.
What is a pizza cornicione?
Understanding the true meaning of cornicione is not so simple. In fact, it won’t be relevant to find cornicione in an American or a British Pizza. American or British people refer cornicione as the crust of a pizza. And by crust, they mean the whole base. In reality, cornicione is not the whole base. Rather it is the specific part of the crust that we call a lip. So, cornicione is the outermost part of the base that is usually thicker than the rest.
You will not find this part in American or British pizza simply because the entire base has the same thickness as it is filled with sauce up to the edges. In the case of Italian pizzas, the sauce is limited to only the middle portion of the crust. That in turn leaves the air and the overall crust feels soft and crispy.
A little about its origin
Now that you are well familiar with the meaning of pizza cornicione, let us talk a bit about its origins. It all started in the 1980s. Traditionally, the Neapolitan pizzas were made quite differently as compared to the others. It was this time when the Italians felt the need to maintain the quality of a true Neapolitan pizza.
They formed an association that came up with a precise set of rules when it comes to making a pizza. Such a vision led to the birth of Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
This association came up with certain rules to be followed for making a true Neapolitan pizza. And cornicione is among the major differentiating factors for a Neapolitan pizza.
With enough information about the origin and meaning, it is high time to talk about the steps for making cornicione. Let us get started without further delay.
Elements for a true Neapolitan Pizza
According to the AVPN, a true Neapolitan pizza must be made with only four specific ingredients: wheat flour, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. The dough must be hand-kneaded and shaped, and the pizza must be cooked in a wood-fired oven at a temperature of at least 905° Fahrenheit (485° celcius).
The AVPN also specifies the dimensions of a true Neapolitan pizza. The pizza must be no more than 35 centimeters in diameter and no more than one-third of a centimeter thick at the center. The crust must be soft, elastic, and slightly charred, and the pizza must be cooked for no more than 90 seconds.
A true Neapolitan pizza is a delicious and authentic representation of the pizza-making traditions of Naples.
Steps to make pizza dough
The recipe we will share here is not exactly in accordance with the one set forth by Association. We are here to talk about about pizza dough that is easy to make and instructions that can be followed easily.
In order to make a cornicione, you need to start from the very beginning i.e. by preparing the dough. It is not something you can think about, until you are rolling out the dough to create the pizza.
- ½ teaspoon of instant yeast
- 1 and two-thirds cups of water. Remember the water should be of normal temperature i.e. not too cold and not lukewarm.
- Three-quarter cups of bread flour.
- About 2 tablespoons of fine salt.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
Method of preparing it
- Take a considerably large mixing bowl and put yeast, flour, and salt in it. Now, you have to mix all these ingredients together. Make sure everything has been mixed properly before proceeding further.
- Add water to the mixture in an appropriate quantity. Keep in mind you have to prepare dough from this mixture while adding water. After adding water, you have to keep stirring the mixture and make sure no dry mixture is there in the bowl.
- Make it into a damp mixture by stirring. Once it appears damp, you can either use metal spoons or even your hands to mix it further. Here, you have to mix it till it becomes rigid enough so that your hand starts aching.
- It is now time to cover the dough with plastic wrap for about half an hour. Right after half an hour is complete, take the dough out and stretch and then fold it again. You will see the size of the dough increase and it would be more elastic by then. Put it back in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap again.
- Take out the dough after half an hour and start stretching and folding it. Do it a couple of times and you will see all the strings fade away. What you will see then is a uniform and smooth ball of dough.
- Feel free to split the dough into pieces to make it the size we have mentioned above. Finish this process by covering the ball(s) with olive oil. Put the ball(s) in a zip-lock and store it in the refrigerator. Make sure you use these balls within 3-4 days.
- The frozen dough can be used after a month but you need to defrost them first.
The base must be prepared by hand. The ‘‘pizzaiolo’s’ (pizza maker’s)’ skill enables him or her to determine the movement of air in the base ensuring it moves from the centre towards the periphery, thus forming the frame or crust known as ‘cornicione’ that will have a height of about 1-2 cm. (Source)
Now that we have created the pizza dough, and have it ready to roll, here’s where we prepare the cornicione. Remember, for it to be a cornicione, it must be thicker than the rest of the pizza, crisp on the outside, and soft and chewy in the middle.
Here is a quick look at the dimension of the dough for an authentic pizza cornicione.
- Pay attention to the width of the center and edges of the crust. The central portion of the base should be no more than 0.25 cm in thickness.
- Talking of the edge, it should be between 1 and 2 centimeters.
- While you prepare the dough, make sure its diameter doesn’t exceed 35 centimeters after stretching.
When making a Neapolitan pizza, it is crucial to handle the dough gently in order to preserve the gas bubbles that have formed in the dough. It is important to avoid touching the edge of the dough when constructing and topping the pizza, as this can cause the gas bubbles to burst, resulting in a dense and unappealing pizza base.
To ensure that your pizza cornicione turns out perfectly, be careful not to handle the dough too much and let the gas bubbles do their work.
Making a perfect cornicione requires people to follow the exact procedure given by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. It is not feasible for everyone to follow that process given it is several pages long.
That is why we decided to guide people in a somewhat easy way. We hope these simple steps will be effective enough to help you make a perfect pizza cornicione at your home.