Pizza Cornicione – What It Is and How to Make It

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Pizza Cornicione

Ever heard the word cornicione and wondered what it actually means?

Cornicione is an Italian word that means “the crust.” when it comes to pizza. However, there is alot of confusion when it comes to this word.

In this article, I’m going to be explaining what it is and how to make it the perfect cornicione. It can really make your pizza not only look good but adds a whole new depth of flavour.

What Is Pizza Cornicione?

The Italian word for the pizza’s edge or rim is cornicione. A typical Neapolitan pizza features a crunchy, outside cornicione that is airy and raised on the inside, which is soft and light on the inside.

Many people refer to the crust as the edge of the pizza. This is simply not true.

The crust is actually all of the pizza base and not just the edge. Understanding the basic terminology is very important when looking to make the best neapolitan pizza.

True Neapolitan Pizza Cornicione

A raised edge of 1-2cm is required by the AVPN’s (the True Neapolitan Pizza Association’s) international standard for Neapolitan pizza. The cornicione is said to be a distinguishing characteristic of Neapolitan pizza. The cornicione is a long history in Naples and it is an essential part of the pizza.

How to Create the Perfect Pizza Cornicione

To make the ideal cornicione, you’ll need a decent flour with the appropriate amount of gluten, a lengthy, slow fermentation period, and an oven that’s hot. Let’s have a look at the four stages involved in making corniciones.

1. Gluten Development

The gluten development in any pizza dough is what makes it pliable and stretchy.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat flour. It is especially important to dough, because it keeps the dough together and stops it from falling apart. Gluten is something that gives the dough structure. It makes it elastic and stretchy. To produce Neapolitan pizza and create a good cornicione, a flexible dough is required.

When you hydrate the gluten and knead it, a strong network of gluten strands will begin to form. In a few minutes, the dough will be smooth and elastic. The floured surface is used to prevent sticking. This will give the dough structure. The more you knead the dough, the stronger this network becomes. (Although you do not want to work it too much)

Why Gluten is important for a good Pizza Cornicione

Gluten is required because the gluten network will build tiny pockets within the dough. When you let the dough rise, these pockets will hold gas produced by the yeast. This will produce bubbles inside your cornicione. The edge will look nice and fluffy, and the inside will be light and soft. – just what we want

Pizza Flour

The flour is what helps with gluten development, making it the most important ingredient in your pizza dough.

Its really important that you get a good quality pizza flour, something with just the right amount of gluten. Without this the gluten will not develop very well.

The type of flour used can have a significant impact on the final product, since there are so many different varieties available. The kind of flour you use affects not only the taste and texture of your pizza, but also how it cooks. A good quality for pizza-making should be used to ensure that you get good results. Tipo 0 and Tip

Tipo 0 or Tipo 00 pizza flour would be a great option, you just need to make sure its high quality. These are high-gluten, Italian-milled wheat flours, the gluten content is around 10 to 12 percent.

How to Develop Gluten

You must first hydrate the gluten in order to strengthen it. The gluten formation process begins with the combination of flour and water. You must also knead the dough.

It takes approximately 15-20 minutes of kneading by hand. It wont take as long if you’re using a stand mixer.

2. Long Fermentation

Pizza Dough proofing

To form those lovely air bubbles in the cornicione, you must first create gluten. Long, slow fermentation, or proofing, is required to create these excellent air bubbles. 

For a Neapolitan style pizza you would let it rise for 8-24 hours.

You could try a cold fermentation to allow it to rise for long, this is said to give your crust even more flavour.

To extend the fermentation time, cut back on the amount of yeast. The fermentation will slow down and stretch out over a longer period of time if there is less yeast in the dough.

I’ll say it once again: the importance of high-quality flour cannot be overstated. If you leave a dough made with all-purpose flour for 24 hours, it will almost certainly overproof.

If the dough over-proofs then its not strong enough to hold all the air bubbles, so you get a dense dough thats flat and has no air bubbles.

3. Shaping and Stretching the Pizza to Create the Cornicione

Keeping the pizza’s edge un-touched is crucial to retaining the air bubbles formed during fermentation. This is the actual key to a great cornicione! It will not become airy and puff up in the oven if you press on the edge of the pizza.

Its really important that you NEVR use a rolling pin. This will squeeze the gas out of the bubbles.

Which will ruin the cornicione.

The crust will end up being very dense.

If you take anything away from this article, please be it that you don’t use a rolling pin.

It takes a little practice to shape and stretch your pizza. Below is a video to help show you how to stretch pizza dough correctly;

4. Baking the Pizza in a Hot Oven

Finally how you bake your pizza will have an impact on the cornicione.

To develop the cornicione, you must bake the pizza in a very hot oven to create it puff up and get crispy on the outside.

For a true neapolitan style pizza, you will want to use a wood-fired pizza oven. (click here for a guide on finding the best pizza oven).

Below are some tips and tricks on how you can try and replicate a good neapolitan style pizza without one of these ovens.

Use the Highest Heat Possible

Baking Pizza

The first thing you should do is cook the pizza in your home oven at the maximum possible temperature. Most home ovens can’t reach 900°F, but you want to get as close as possible.

To acquire the ideal crust you must reduce the baking time by using a high heat. A drier crust is produced by pizza baked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.

You get a very dry crust when cooking over a longer period of time be because more water evaporates.

Use a Pizza Stone or Pizza Steel

You could also use a pizza stone or pizza steel to improve the baking.

This will cook your pizza’s bottom and make it crisp. You should preheat your baking surface with the oven for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour before attempting to bake any pizza in order to make sure it’s hot enough.

I’ve reviewed some of the best pizza stones here

Use the Broiler for Extra Heat

The final technique is to utilize your oven’s broiler or grill element. The pizza should get the leopard pattern on the cornicione due to the increase in temperature. This is something you see on all pizzas in naples.

Watch out for your pizza burning, this extra heat it will cook pretty quickly.

If you’re using a broiler, put the pizza stone as close as possible to it. 

To make the best pizza, put the stone or steel on top of your oven’s upper rack. Preheat the oven to a high temperature using the broiler.

Combining these three things will result in a stunning cornicione at home!

I hope this article has helped show you how to make a pizza with a beautiful cornicione.

These are my best tips for achieving this delicious crust in your home oven without breaking out any fancy equipment or ingredients.

Although I would recommend a pizza oven if your serious about making your own pizza.

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