The first asparagus of the season is always a treat. Make sure you wash it, as it can be a little sandy. You also need to make sure that you get rid of the woodsy, inedible bottoms. The freshest cut stuff that you find at the farmers’ market is always best. I slice the spears into little coins. The thinner the better.
Adapted from Pizza Camp by Joe Beddia, published by Abrams c 2017
- 1 ball dough (about 1-pound/304 g)
- 2/3 C (165 ml) Spring Cream
- 3 oz (85 g) fresh mozzarella, pinched into small chunks
- 2 C (220 g) shredded low-moisture mozzarella
- About 2 C (270 g) chopped fresh asparagus
- + Fine sea salt
- 3 T grated hard cheese
- + Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon wedge
- 2 T chopped fresh chives
- 1 handful basil (10 to 20 leaves)
- 1/2 C (25 g) chopped fresh fennel fronds
- 1/2 C (25 g) chopped fresh chives
- + Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
- + Fat pinch of red pepper flakes
- 4 C (960 ml) heavy cream
- + fine sea salt and freshly ground black
- + pepper to taste
- + combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Blend until slightly emulsified. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor. Blend until slightly emulsified. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
For the Pizza:
Place your stone on the lowest shelf of your oven, then turn your oven to its highest temperature. Most ovens go to 500°F (260°C) and some to 550°F (287°C). Heat your stone for at least one hour before baking.
If you’re taking your dough out of the fridge, give it about 15 minutes or so to warm up a bit so it will be easier to work with. It should have doubled in size in the fridge. If it hasn’t, let it sit at room temperature, covered with a slightly damp towel, until it does.
Pressing your fingers firmly into the dough, start by flattening the center and work your way out toward the edge to make it wider, until it’s about 7–9 inches (17–23 cm) wide. Pushing down on the dough will release some of the gas and actually begin opening up the dough. Be careful not to disturb the outermost lip. This will eventually become your crust.
The next step is a bit tricky. Your goal is to take this disc of dough and carefully stretch it to about 14–16 inches (35.5 to 40.5 cm) without tearing it or creating a hole. I pick it up with floured hands and begin to gently stretch it over my fists, letting gravity do most of the work.
Once you’ve stretched it enough, put the dough back on the counter, making sure there is a generous dusting of flour underneath. Take a few generous pinches of semolina flour and dust your pizza peel. Make sure it’s coated evenly. Gently lift and transfer your dough to the peel. Make sure both your hands and the peel are well-floured. You are now ready to dress your pie.
Cover the dough with the spring cream, then add the mozzarellas. Now I like to add a very liberal amount of asparagus. Season with salt.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 4 minutes. The crust will rise significantly. Then change the oven setting from bake to broil, cooking the pizza from the top down until the crust begins to blister. The residual heat of the stone will continue to cook the bottom. (If your broiler is at the bottom of your oven, skip this step and continue to bake the pizza as described.) I cook all my pizzas until they’re well done, which could take up to 10 minutes total (sometimes less). Just keep checking so you don’t burn it. Look for the cheese to color and the crust to turn deep brown. It may blacken in spots, and that’s okay.
Finish with the grated hard cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, a spritz of fresh lemon juice from the wedge, and the chives.