What is AVPN (in The World of Pizza)?

Aside from a VPN being something to do with internet security, AVPN in the world of pizza is the Italian organisation with a mission to protect and promote the tradition that is the classic Neapolitan.

Most of us spend years stuffing our faces with slices before learning about the history of pizza, or realising that there’s official regulations on how to actually make traditional pizza. If this is the first you’re hearing about these pizza rules, in which case, let’s discuss AVPN.

If you want the full authentic lowdown on AVPN and all things Neapolitan pizza, then you’ll obviously want to visit Naples, or the AVPN’s website. In the meantime, here’s a groovy summary of what the AVPN is all about…

What is the AVPN?

The AVPN, or Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (translated to The True Neapolitan Pizza Association) is a non-profit organisation established by pizzaiolos Antonio Pace and Lello Surace in 1984 in Naples, which sets the rules and regulations when it comes to making truly authentic Neapolitan pizza.

The story goes that pizza’s history began in Naples, but much to the disgust of some Neapolitans, all sorts of pizza were later created around the world, which included fast-food pizza chains using phrases such as “Original Neapolitan Pizza” in their marketing. Hence the AVPN being founded to protect the tradition of Neapolitan pizza.

The idea behind the AVPN involved a written protocol being recorded on how the traditional pizza is made (like a long version of a Neapolitan pizza recipe), so people around the world would know when they were making or eating a Vera Pizza Napoletana (a true Neapolitan pizza).

Today, the AVPN not only just protects and promotes Neapolitan pizza itself, but also approves and endorses individual pizzerias around the world that make pizza according to Naples’ traditions, as well as providing training courses if you fancy becoming a professional pizzaiolo.

What Makes Neapolitan Pizza Different?

One of the main things that makes Neapolitan pizza so different to all the other pizza styles, aside from its pillowy yet crunchy crust and slightly floppy mid-section, is the fact that it has these special regulations from the AVPN telling you whether or not your pizza is truly Neapolitan.

What is AVPN certified?

If you want to become AVPN certified, this means receiving recognition and certification from the AVPN to say that the pizza you make adheres to the AVPN International Regulations. Clearly, this really only applies to actual pizzerias, but the AVPN do offer courses to individuals too, so you can try replicating Neapolitan pizza at home.

The Rules for Neapolitan Pizza

So, the ‘rules’ for Neapolitan pizza are those recorded by the AVPN, which are used as guidance around the world for anyone wanting to make Neapolitan style pizza. By way of a summary, below are the AVPN’s main rules in order for a pizza to be classed as an authentic Neapolitan:

Appearance

A Neapolitan pizza must:

  • Be round(ish), with a diameter between 22cm and 35cm
  • Have a raised edge measuring between  1-2cm (crust, or “cornicione”), which is swollen and free from burns
  • Be soft and and fragrant

Ingredients

A Neapolitan pizza must contain:

– Flour: 1,600-1,800 grams (depending on the degree of absorption)
– Water: 1 litre (1000 ml) – see dough hydration
– Salt: 40-60 grams
– Yeast (dependent on temperature and humidity)…
Either:
Fresh beer yeast 0.1-3 grams
Mother Yeast 5-20% of flour used
Dry active yeast 1/3 of fresh yeast used (1 gram of dry for 3 grams of fresh)

Preparation

  • The water must be added to a container first, followed by the salt, 10% of flour, yeast, then 90% of flour during mixing
  • The salt and yeast should not be in direct contact with each other for more than 5 minutes
  • The dough must be mixed in a rounded container with a “fork mixer, spiral, with dipping arms”

Fermentation

  • Once a dough is formed, this is left to rest (otherwise known as the proofing or fermentation process) covered with a damp cloth for an amount of time “deemed necessary.”
  • The risen dough is cut using a spatula and shaped into balls using hands (the balls must weigh between 200 and 280 grams).
  • A further period of resting or fermentation takes place, depending on the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere and the absorption rate of the flour used.
  • The recommended duration for fermentation is 8 – 24 hours. 

Shaping 

  • The pizza dough should be shaped using hands and fingers (not a rolling pin).
  • The dough must be shaped by starting in the centre and working outwards.
  • The base should be turned over and around “many times” to form a disc of dough.
  • The thickness in the centre of the dough should be no more than 0.25cm, with a -/+10% variance acceptable.

Accompaniments 

  • Ingredients are preferably from Italy’s Campania regions.
  • Peeled tomatoes should be crushed by hand – not too dense but chunky.
  • Fresh tomatoes must be chopped in slices.
  • Buffalo mozzarella should be chopped in slices or cow’s mozzarella (fior di latte) should be chopped into strips and spread evenly on the pizza.
  • If using grated cheese, this has to be spread on the pizza with a circular and uniform movement of the hand.
  • Only fresh basil leaves can be used, i.e. not dried.
  • Extra virgin olive oil must be poured in a spiral motion.

Thankfully, despite all the rules, the AVPN do also point out that they want to ensure you enjoy your pizza, just in a way that protects the traditional methods in which the original Neapolitan pizza is made; differentiating it from all the other pizza styles around the world. On that note, it’s one thing to learn about the AVPN, but if you really want to know how to make top-notch pizza but you can’t visit Italy, there’s a certain groovy guide that might just help you.

(For more about the AVPN, visit www.pizzanapoletana.org)

Stay Groovy. Eat Pizza.