Tuesday, September 29, 2009

a fall flavored harvest pizza

Once the month of September draws near (heck, even late August), I can't help but embrace the autumn season with open arms. Although these scrawny, hungry fall arms may appear to the average daily chomper as already overdoing it with the fall flavors, I honestly consider, is that possible?

Recently, B had anxiously arrived at the idea of an autumn pizza. Sprinkled with the always-addicting pumpkin pie spice, swirled sweetly with some pumpkin puree, and plopped with an overabundance of fresh fall vegetables, it was obvious that such a light bulb in the beau's brain was something that could not be ignored. Taking an old recipe we had from a healthier alternative to Auntie Anne's pretzels, we tackled the challenge of converting the season's best tastes into a doughy and satisfying suppertime sphere of freshness.
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

makes 1

1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or, an even amount of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger)
4 cups whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast and honey. Stir together and mush around the yeast. Let sit.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add to honey, salt and milk to pan, and heat to 120 degrees.

Pour milk mixture into yeast mixture and stir. Then, add flour to mixture, a cup at a time (add more flour if needed). Sprinkle in pumpkin pie spice. Knead dough for 5-10 minutes and when able to roll into ball, plop it into a bowl. Cover and let it rise for 1-1 1/2 hours.

Pull the dough out of the bowl and knead for a few times to release the air. On a floured surface, roll wad of dough into desired size and shape of your soon-to-be-made pizza. Set aside.
Select a colorful assortment of fall veggies (see above: green and yellow zucchini, and butternut squash) and to be chopped and placed attractively atop your sauce and smoked cheeses.
For the pizza's sauce, take 8 oz. of tomato sauce and whisk with 8 oz. of pumpkin puree. The saucy blend will appear a gorgeous burnt-orange.
Assemble the sauce, choice of cheese (we selected a mozzarella-and-smoked provolone blend) and chopped fall vegetables atop the pumpkin-spiced crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until toppings are browned and crust appears crispy.

The result: A seasonally-appetizing dinnertime crunch that's accented fall flavors may have you never again craving a cheesy Sicilian snooze.