British asparagus, ricotta & pancetta pizza
Serves: 2 medium pizzas, serving 4 each
Preparation time: 25 minutes plus proving
Cooking time: 15 minutes
for the dough
250ml tepid water
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 x 7g sachet easy blend dried yeast
300g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 heaped teaspoon flaked sea salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for greasing
for the topping
1 tbl olive oil
1 clove of good hard garlic (no green shoots)
300ml tinned chopped tomatoes
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
2 bundles of British asparagus, trimmed and cut into 4 lengthways, place the asparagus in a little olive oil & salt until well-greased
100g sliced pancetta
1 large handful of dried oregano leaves a handful of pecorino cheese
olive oil for drizzling
What to do
To make the dough, pour the water into a large bowl and gently stir in the sugar and yeast. Put aside for around 10 minutes until the water has a thick beige foam floating on top. Add half the flour and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry about clumps in the flour, as these will soon disappear.
Gradually add half the remaining flour and continue stirring. Once it’s all incorporated, add the remaining flour and the salt, crushing it between your fingers. Mix with clean hands. As soon as the dough forms a soft, spongy ball, turn it out on to a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes. Add a little more flour if it’s too wet. By this time the dough should be smooth, elastic and no longer sticking to your hands.
Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45–60 minutes.
Halfway through the rising time preheat the oven to 240°C/475°F/Gas 9.
Make the topping while the dough rests and rises in the bowl. Place the asparagus in a little olive oil & salt until well-greased.
In a pan gently heat the oil with the garlic and cook it gently for 2 minutes or so, it must not fry and colour. Add the chopped tomatoes and a good amount of salt and half a teaspoon of white sugar.
Simmer briskly for 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly, getting rid of any obviously watery element. Let the sauce cool.
When the dough has risen turn it out on to a lightly floured surface and knock back with your fists.
Tear the dough in half and stretch, or flatten with a rolling pin, until about the thickness of a £1 coin. Place each pizza base on a lightly floured baking sheet or tray and brush on top with a little more oil.
When ready to assemble divide the toppings evenly between the two pizza bases. Spread the sauce half over each pizza base leaving a clean and narrow margin around the edge. Spread the ricotta over the tomato sauce, scatter over the asparagus spears and slices of pancetta , then add a grind of black pepper and scatter fresh oregano leaves.
Scatter over the pecorino all over the top of the pizzas and finally dribble a generous amount of olive oil over the whole pizza, slide into the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes, the base should be very crispy.