Fancy making your own pizza? This pizza recipe from Valentine Warner shows you how to make a classic pizza base. Top with a simple mixture of asparagus and ricotta for a posh treat
- 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
- 200g ricotta
- 2 bundles of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 4 lengthways, place the asparagus in a little olive oil & salt until well-greased
- 1 large handful of dried oregano leaves
- 100g pancetta or streaky bacon
- A handful of pecorino cheese
- Olive oil for drizzling
For 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 Mark 9.
- When the dough has risen turn it out on to a lightly floured surface and knock back with mild blows from 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.
For the topping:
- While the dough rests and rises in the bowl 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 ready to assemble, work quickly and 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 willy nilly, then add an over the top an enthusiastic grind of black pepper and scatter a good amount of the fresh oregano leaves.
- Scatter over the pecorino all over the top of everything 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. Serve immediately.
Top tip for making Asparagus ricotta pizza
Of course if you don't have the time to make your own base, you can always use shop-bought ones!