Say hello, wave good-bye… In other words : farewell, white asparagus, hello summer truffles! And there’s another hello to the best whole meal pizza crust I ever had.
But, today’s urban shots first. The other day and in different spots of the town, we discovered some trees who mingled beautifully with architecture. We where quite astonished about it, and as the shot’s topic somehow fits in so beautifully into today’s food theme (we will later see why), here are some trees and brick and glass and concrete:
Isn’t it great what plants and tree’s roots can do? Indeed, I have a very special relation with tree roots, or to be more precise, with those tiny creatures that grow underneath certain tree roots. Some of you know already that I am a fresh truffle’s addict – and I never tire to tell everybody who thinks that fresh truffle are far too exclusive, expensive and eccentric, that there are few things in the food world that are more grounded, authentic, and beautiful than truffles. Indeed, I see much more problems in Western meat consumption habits than in having a fresh truffle of best quality from time to time, and a truffle dish is not more costly than a sunday roast (of organic origin, hopefully).
Ok, now that I made my mission statement ;-), here’s some information about summer truffles: it’s the ones that are quite common for use in truffled products of any kind, from cheese to carpaccio, to name but two. I tried canned summer truffles several times, and I have always been disappointed because they tasted of nearly nothing (although they smell very fine). I was therefor quite curios what the fresh version would be like – it’s beautiful with a nice taste of nuts. Fresh summer truffles are of course not that powerful in taste like winter truffles and not that refined like my beloved bianchetti truffles. But it’s really worth giving them a try – and indeed they are way less expensive than Perigord & co. Apart from that, it’s the same as with all black tubers: they need some fat to shine in taste and they like a little heat to develop their flavor.
Let’s turn to the other star in this recipe: the perfect whole grain pizza dough. There are two whole grain master minds on the internet whose blogs I consult whenever I am in need for really good advice regarding whole meal ideas & recipes: they are Antje of lifestyle in grün over here in Germany and Kaela of New York’s local kitchen. The dough recipe in this post is by Kaela (link follows below), and although I need to practice a bit more the techniques that she proposes for making it, I am already most enthusiastic with the result. So full in flavor and so crisp – I tell you, it’s a poem. Far from being a patient baker, I normally do not follow recipes that propose giving the dough a rest again and again, folding it here and there, and kneading a sticky ball without putting tons of more flour in (which I normally do with sticky doughs to avoid nervous breakdowns). But I am most glad that I have overcome my unwillingness to follow such instructions – it was worth the effort, both in time and temper ;-). Thank you, Kaela, you made our pizza day – and I totally agree with you on everything that you write in your pizza dough post about whole meal in general.
Here are my recipes
White asparagus season ends today – what a pity. I admit that I extend the season for green asparagus as long as it is sold at my organic greengrocer – but with green asparagus it’s no longer a pizza bianca, is it. So I suggest to try the white asparagus pizza version today or next year or – in the meantime – give the egg version a try (or take fennel, I am sure this will be delightful as well).
Regarding the dough, I followed exactly the measurements and instructions of Kaela’s quick whole grain pizza dough during my first attempt. The next time, I adopted both a tiny bit to the different behavior of normal full wheat flour in comparison with the red wheat bread flower she uses (and which I could not get so far in Germany).
Pizza bianca with white asparagus, buffalo mozzarella and fresh summer truffles
Prepare the topping: For two pizzas, peel 250 g white asparagus and blanch for 10 minutes in boiling water with a pinch of salt and sugar and a little piece of butter. If you have really thick asparagus, you might need to blanch for 15 minutes. Drain well and put aside. Clean a summer truffle of 20 g with a tiny brush. Peel two shallots, cut in quarters lengthwise and pull apart the layers. Pick a buffalo mozzarella ball into moderate pieces. Mix 150 g crème fraîche with a teaspoon of truffle oil (you can leave that away if you don’t have at hand, it’s just an extra), salt and pepper to taste. Clean some leaves of chervil.
Prepare the dough: Mix 180 g whole wheat flour, sifted, with 1 teaspoon dry yeast, a pinch of raw sugar, a pinch of salt. Add 125 ml warm water and a tablespoon olive oil (Kaela takes 150 ml water which had been a little too much for the flour I used and also for my clumsiness in kneading very sticky doughs). Mix well with a wooden spoon until you get a sticky (not too sticky) ball. Let rest for 5 minutes to allow the flour to soak the liquid in. Put on a floured wooden plate and stretch out with the wooden spoon or your floured hands into a square that is big enough to fold. Now fold twice like a letter (now you got a lengthwise package) and then fold the lengthwise package twice again (now you got kind of a ball). Cover with a clean and dry towel and give a rest for 15 minutes. Now start to knead with the heels of your hand with movements away from your body. Make sure to flour your hands and the wooden plate a bit from time to time – not too much, just a bit. The dough should be nice and elastic after 5-10 minutes. Put the kneaded dough in a bowl that you have oiled before. Turn around the dough ball a little bit so that all sides are covered with oil. Close the bowl with plastic foil and put in a warm place. Give a rest for 45 minutes, take off and knead again for a short moment and then give another rest for further 45 minutes (Kaela suggests 25 minutes for the second rest but I got a better result with the longer rest – due to the flour I needed). You can leave out the second rest but the taste of the pizza will be way better if you don’t.
Divide the dough into two half’s. Slightly flour a baking parchment, put one half on it and roll out carefully with a floured rolling pin. On my first attempt I rolled out to 1 cm of height. The pizzas that came out in the end were a bit to thick for my liking (you can see that on the shots of the asparagus pizza). On my second attempt I rolled out really thin, about 0,5 cm, and the crust was perfect – I recommend the latter also regarding the shorter baking time in the oven.
Cover the pizzas with crème fraîche (I do it with my hands to get it even, and it feels nice as well), put the asparagus, the shallots and the mozzarella on top. Give a little olive oil on the asparagus, it might otherwise get a little dry. Put into the preheated oven (250 °C) and bake for about 15 minutes. Make truffle slices with a truffle slicer or a sharp knife. Heat some olive oil in a small pan and toss the truffles slices in it for a short moment. The patterns won’t show that beautifully any more after this procedure but the taste is enhanced a lot by it – all dark truffles profit from some heat and some fat, it’s just the white ones that need only fat and don’t like heat.
Get the pizzas out of the oven and decorate with the truffle slices and the chervil. Add little spinkles of olive oil if you like and salt and pepper. Et voilà!
Pizza bianca sunny side up with fresh summer truffles
For the topping, prepare the crème fraîche, 1/2 ball of buffalo mozzarella, the truffle and the herbs the same way as mentioned in the first recipe. Do the same with the dough. Once you rolled out the dough, go on as follows:
Cover the pizzas with crème fraîche and mozarella. Put into the preheated oven (250 °C) and bake for 7 minutes. Crack two eggs, each in a little cup (the egg yolks should stay complete). Open the oven and carefully put one egg in the middle of each pizza. Close the oven again and bake for another 10 minutes. Make truffle slices and prepare like mentioned in the recipe above. Get the pizzas out of the oven and decorate with the truffle slices and the chervil, little spinkles of olive oil, salt and pepper.