When cooking seasonally from local ingredients, one sometimes finds oneself with odd amounts of ingredients on hand. Our asparagus patch is producing slowly — what to do with only 3 stalks? Learning to make pizza at home is one of the ways to use what’s available. The asparagus combined with garlic scape pesto from the freezer, a leftover batch of homemade mozzarella, and a sprinkling of chopped green onions from the garden made for a delightful spring-time treat.
For pizza dough, I’m partial to Sam Sifton’s recipe from the New York Times. It helps to have some experience working with a very wet or “slack” dough. However, once you’re familiar with how this recipe works, it’s surprisingly quick and easy. Most importantly, it can be made ahead of time and stores well in the refrigerator for use later in the week.
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1½ cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting
¾ teaspoon active dry yeast
2¼ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1½ cups cool water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. The morning or ideally the day before cooking, prepare the dough. Using a hand whisk, combine the flours, yeast and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in the water and olive oil until a rough dough forms. Set the bowl on the mixer and, using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and beat for 4 to 6 minutes, until it becomes a wet and vaguely menacing mass. (If it forms into a ball, lower the mixer speed to medium-high. If not, stop the mixer to scrape down the sides once.)
2. Scrape and pour the dough onto a heavily floured work surface. Keeping your fingers, the countertop and the dough well floured, fold one dough end over the other so that half the floured underside covers the rest of the dough. Let rest for 10 minutes. [The dough gains structure once it is out of the bowl and is being handled during steps 2 and 3.]
3. Cut the dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Place each ball on a well-oiled plate, generously dust with flour and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it is at least doubled in size, about 3 hours.
4. Punch the dough balls down, shape into rounds and place each in a quart-size freezer bag. Refrigerate dough between 1 and 24 hours [or up to a week]. Makes 2 balls.
Notes: I sometimes substitute up to ½ cup of whole-wheat pastry flour for all-purpose flour. If I’m making the dough ahead of time, I store the dough undivided in a covered container, directly in the fridge (before letting it rise at end of step 3). The dough will keep up to a week in the fridge. I then take it out, divide and form into balls, and let it rise for 3 hours before using it. The pizza is baked on a pizza stone in an oven set at 550° or at its highest temperature. Further instruction, more pizza recipes and a how-to video may be found online.