To learn more about this recipe, see our related story, Dough Boy, in our National edition.
TT Tip: You can make the dough up to three days in advance. Wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate, then leave out at room temperature for two to three hours before using.
Jim Lahey's Bird's-Nest PieAdapted from My Pizza by Jim Lahey (Clarkson Potter)
Yield: 4 balls of pizza dough and 1 bird's-nest pizza
Cook Time: 2 hours, plus 18 hours resting time
3¾ cups / 17½ ounces /500 grams all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping
¼ teaspoon / 1 gram active dry yeast
2 teaspoons / 16 grams fine sea salt
1½ cups / 350 grams warm water
120 grams / 3 to 4 thick asparagus spears
1 ball of pizza dough, shaped and waiting on a floured peel
¼ cup / 15 grams finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¾ ounce / 20 grams Saint Nectaire cheese, cut into 6 chunks (substitute Tomme de Savoie or Tomme Crayeuse)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 quail eggs
Pinch of fine sea salt
1. Make the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled, about 18 hours (it will take longer in a cool room and less time in a warm one).
2. If you have a gas oven, place a pizza stone on the center rack and preheat the oven to 500° for 30 minutes. Switch to broil for 10 minutes and then back to bake at 500°. (If you have an electric oven, preheat the pizza stone on the upper-middle rack at 500° for 30 minutes. Open the oven door and leave it ajar for 30 seconds, then close it, switch to broil and heat for 10 minutes; unlike the gas-oven pizza, you will cook the pizza using the broiler setting.)
3. While the oven and stone warm up, shape the dough. Divide the dough into quarters on a generously floured work surface. Wrap three pieces in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another time (or make more than one pizza). Fold the right side of the remaining dough ball toward the center. Repeat with the left side, then the top and then the bottom. Turn the ball seam-side down on the work surface. Cup your hands around the sides of the dough and press down toward the board and in a circular motion to shape it gently into a mound.
4. Press down on the dough to gently stretch it to a 6-to 8-inch-wide disk. Continue to massage and stretch the disk until it is 10 to 12 inches wide (don't be tempted to smooth out the bubbles and blisters-those are critical). Flour a pizza peel and carefully lift the dough onto the center of the peel (if you don't have a peel, you can place the dough directly onto the hot stone in step 7).
5. Snap off the bottom 2 inches from each asparagus spear, then use a vegetable peeler to shave the spears lengthwise into ribbons.
6. Disperse the Parmesan cheese evenly over the dough and scatter the Saint Nectaire on top. Sprinkle with black pepper and top with the asparagus ribbons.
7. Open the oven and use quick, jerking motions to shimmy the dough off the peel and onto the stone. Broil until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is slightly charred, about 2½ minutes (slightly longer for electric ovens).
8. Use the peel to pull the pizza out of the oven (close the oven to conserve heat) and crack the eggs carefully around the pizza (about one egg for each slice). Sprinkle the salt over the pizza and return to the oven to broil until the eggs are set but not hard and the charring is deeper, about 1 minute.
9. Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or platter. Slice into wedges, cutting through the egg yolks to let the yolks spread slightly, and serve.
Please check your inbox to verify your email address.