Pizza Cornicione (Cor-ni-cione). You may have heard of it, or this may be a brand new term, but chances are, if you love pizza, you’ve at least heard it in passing or on your holiday in Italy.
Well, it’s not uncommon for people to be confused about what it means, even if you have. Some think it just means the crust; some think it’s a topping, and some even think it’s the shape.
Well, this article will hopefully clear any confusion and have you brimming with Cornicione facts before you know it. So let’s get to it.
What Does The Term ‘Pizza Cornicione’ Mean?
In Italian, ‘Cornicione’ simply means the edge or outer rim of the pizza. It should be slightly raised, full of air, and crunchy on the outside yet light and soft on the inside.
The perfect Cornicione is found on a traditional Neapolitan pizza. This shouldn’t be confused with what most Americans or Brits call the crust.
The crust is the whole bread part of the pizza. It’s not just the edge like the cornicione. So if you want to improve your pizza terminology, you must get this term right.
If we delve a little deeper, you might be interested in the history of the pizza cornicione. In the 1980s, an association was set up in Italy. It was dedicated to the practice of creating the best Neapolitan pizzas.
The association felt these pizzas should meet certain requirements, so the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana was created.
They covered two main types of pizzas that we see in Italian restaurants worldwide. They are the Margherita and Marinara.
When it comes to the perfect cornicione, the association believes the true Neapolitan way to make pizza is by undergoing two rising processes.
After the second rising process, the base can be formed. It’s in the forming of the round pizza base that the cornicione is created.
They say that the cornicione should be stretched with your hands. Also rolling pins or other mechanical tools should be avoided.
Their advice is that it should be shaped with your hands until the middle of the pizza is around 0.25cm. The edge of the crust should be slightly bigger.
This edge then becomes the cornicione and needs to be around 1-2cm. The association claims that if these measurements are off, you will not have created a true pizza cornicione.
A cornicione is key to the perfect Neapolitan pizza, so it becomes extremely important if it is formed correctly.
Can I Make My Own Pizza Cornicione?
Of course! The first step to making the perfect Cornicione is knowing how to make your pizza dough.
This pizza dough must undergo fermentation and be stretched out enough to make that perfect edge.
It needs to be stretched out no larger than 35cm in diameter. The center and edges should also be the correct width. To make that stretchy dough, however, you’ll need a recipe.
Luckily, we’ve included below a recipe similar to authentic Italian pizza dough. It will allow you to create that great cornicione!
- 3 and 3 ¼ cups of bread flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 and ⅔ cups of cool water.
- Olive oil
- Half a teaspoon of yeast
- Mix the flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl before adding your water. This should be stirred in until no dry mixture is left over.
- When you are left with a damp mixture, mix this with a wooden spoon or your hands until it becomes sticky and stringy.
- Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let it rise for half an hour before stretching it a little more. The dough should feel elastic but firm before you cover it again for another half an hour.
- Next, you need to stretch and fold the dough again. Repeat this process two or three times until there are no stringy parts left of the dough. It will form a smooth, round, uniformed ball.
- You can then split this ball into two to create two pizzas and use the olive oil to coat them lightly. These can be used straight away or stored to be used when needed. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for around four days in a zip-lock bag or airtight container. You can freeze any leftover dough but use it within one month and make sure you thoroughly defrost it first.
Now onto the cornicione. As we have already outlined, The True Neapolitan Pizza Association suggests it should have a raised edge of around 1-2cm.
You need good quality flour containing enough gluten and allow for a long fermentation process before baking the pizza in a hot oven.
Below, we’ve outlined four key steps to making the perfect Cornicione.
Developing Your Gluten
Gluten development is an important part of any pizza dough and is what holds the dough together as well as creates the structure of the dough and creates its elasticity.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat flour; without it in your dough, the dough will just fall apart. Therefore, without it, you will struggle to make any kind of dough, never mind a cornicione.
After your dough has been hydrated and you have kneaded it, the dough will form its network of walls which forms the structure of the dough.
The more you knead this dough, the stronger this network will get. This network becomes important to make your cornicione as it will make tiny pockets inside the dough.
These pockets will trap any gas produced by yeast and as the dough rises, make bubbles inside the cornicione. As a result of this, the edge will start to puff up and create a light, soft interior.
To develop the gluten and make that strong network, you must ensure it is hydrated. To do this, combine flour and water and knead for 15-20 minutes.
But what type of flour is best to guarantee a strong network in the dough?
Believe it or not, because it dictates gluten development, flour quality is more important than you think when making pizza dough and is sometimes overlooked by pizza bakers.
A proper pizza flour has the perfect amount of gluten for the perfect dough. Our best tip is to buy high-quality Tipo 0 or Tipo 00 pizza flour.
These are fine, Italian-milled wheat flours with a gluten content of 10%-12%. Tipo 0 or Tipo 00 vary in gluten quality, so it’s important to do your research and shop around first.
A Long Fermentation Process
This is key to a flavorsome dough and developing the great air bubbles that make up a cornicione.
As a guide, a Neopolitan pizza should rise for about 8-24 hours, but you can experiment with how long you let your dough ferment depending on flavor preferences and how much time you have.
If a longer fermentation time suits you best, you’ll need to reduce the quantity of yeast you are using. The fermentation process will also be aided by good-quality flour.
If you leave an all-purpose flour for 24 hours, it may be overproof, which means the gluten network won’t be strong enough to hold the gas in the dough.
This will end up with the dough collapsing, leaving you with a dense, heavy dough without any air bubbles.
Shaping The Pizza To Make The Perfect Cornicione
So that you preserve any air bubbles created in the dough, you must not touch the edge of the pizza.
If you end up touching, pressing, and moving the edge of the pizza, you may end up bursting the bubbles, and as a result, the edge of the pizza will not get airy or puff up, which is what makes that great pizza cornicione.
The top tip would be never to use a rolling pin, as this will squeeze any gas out of the dough and burst any bubbles.
Baking The Pizza In A Hot Pizza Oven
By reading this article, we hope you’ve understood what a pizza cornicione is and, more importantly, how to make one next time it’s your turn to host the pizza party!
You’ll be sure to impress your friends if you master the perfect cornicione, especially with the addition of the leopard pattern on top.
Since they are found on virtually every pizza in every pizzeria in Italy, you won’t get a more authentic pizza than if you were visiting the country yourself.