October is the peak of the white truffle season in Italy. Although most people imagine pigs hunting for this delicacy, they are not the only animal used to find it. In addition to female pigs, dogs are also used to find truffles, which are difficult to locate because they grow at the roots of plants and trees. Sows are naturally attracted to the smell, which is similar to the pheromones of male pigs. Dogs need to be specially trained to sniff them out, but are used more often because unlike pigs, they won’t eat the truffles.
If you love the flavor of truffles, but can’t afford your own fresh one, truffle oil is a less costly alternative. It’s also much easier to store than fresh truffles and just 1⁄2 a teaspoon is often enough to perfume an entire dish. Make sure you store the oil away from heat and light and use it within a couple of weeks of opening the bottle.
You can also opt to use frozen pizza dough instead of making your own from scratch.
For the dough:
11⁄3 cups water, warm (110°)
1 pinch sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
For the topping:
1 pound Robiola cheese (if unavailable, substitute mascarpone)
1 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced
extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 pound baby arugula
cornmeal for the baking sheet
truffle-flavored olive oil
Make the dough: Mix the sugar into the water and add the yeast. Stir once and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Mix olive oil and salt into yeast mixture and begin adding flour a little bit at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. When it becomes too thick for the spoon, mix with your hands. Add flour until you have a soft, but not sticky, dough. Knead dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes. Coat the inside of a mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough ball inside, flipping it so that its entire surface gets oiled. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. Punch to deflate dough, turn it out onto a countertop and divide it into 3 pieces. Knead each small piece until smooth and uniform and allow to rest for 20 minutes under a dish towel before shaping.
If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 550°. Stretch each portion out into a 9-inch diameter disk. Lightly sprinkle a rimless, nonstick baking sheet with cornmeal. Place the pizza dough onto the baking sheet. Sparingly brush each dough disk with olive oil. Place the Robiola in a bowl and stir until it becomes smooth and spreadable. Spread a layer of cheese onto each disk of dough. Top with a layer of prosciutto slices. If you are using a pizza stone, slide the dough disks directly onto it. Otherwise, just place the entire baking sheet into the oven.
Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the edges are golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and top with a few leaves of baby arugula. Drizzle with truffle oil to taste onto the hot pizza and serve immediately. Makes 3 9-inch pizzas