Pumpkin pizza party

Everyone loves a pizza party! Mix up the pumpkin pizza dough and pumpkin-tomato sauce ahead of time, then gather plenty of toppings, the kids, or a group of friends, and go to town. 

The Runaway Spoon
Use proscuitto, pancetta, Italian sausage, or bacon as a meat topping on your pizza. Then add onions, peppers, mushrooms, and of course, cheese.

I have always loved interactive food – where everyone gets to participate in the making and serving of a meal. The pizza party is a great example of this – roll out the dough, choose the toppings, assemble the pizza and watch while they bake. It’s fun for kids and grown-ups alike.

Fall and Halloween are great times to gather around a fun kitchen project. When the weather gets that little nip in the air, its nice to come inside to a warming meal. Add some pumpkin to the mix and it is a real fall meal. The pizza dough is simple to mix up and the sauce can be made ahead of time. Clear off the counter and let everyone go to work on their own creation.

Pumpkin pizza dough

1 tablespoon active yeast

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees F.)

3-1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup pumpkin puree (from a 15 ounce can, remainder reserved)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1. Sprinkle the yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the honey and pour over the warm water. Give it a little stir and let it sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, pumpkin, olive oil, and salt and mix with the dough hook on a low setting until it all comes together. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Work the dough with hook on low speed for 8–10 minutes until the dough is a soft, elastic ball that has cleaned all the flour and bits off the sides of the bowl. Push the dough back down if it starts to push over the top of the dough hook.

2. When the dough is kneaded, transfer the dough ball to a bowl greased with olive oil. Brush the top of the dough with olive oil, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

4. Punch down the risen dough and leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle your counter lightly with corn meal. Divide the dough into 2 balls and shape each into a smooth disc. Working one ball at a time, use your hands to push the dough outward from the center, turning the dough 1/4 turn as you go, until you have a nice round pizza, about 10 – 12 inches around. Push and stretch the dough outward from the middle until it won't stretch any more. Leave the pizza base to rest for 5 minutes. Repeat with the next disc.

6. Carefully transfer the pizza base to a baking sheet lightly brushed with olive oil. If it loses its shape, press it back into the round. Use your fingertips to press indentions in the dough to prevent it from bubbling up.

7. Spread on the tomato–pumpkin sauce and the toppings of your choice. Bake for 10–12 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese toppings are melted.

Tips

  • You can make this a perfectly round pizza, or go more free form, just make sure the finished dough fits on your baking sheet. If you are more artistic than me, shape the dough like a pumpkin.
  • You can make four individual pizzas if you prefer.
  • If you only want one pizza, freeze the second disc in a ziptop bag for up to a month.

Pumpkin–tomato pizza sauce
Makes 1 1/2 cups 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onions (from about 1 small onion)

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoon vermouth or white wine (*optional, may substitute cooking wine)

Remaining pumpkin puree from making the dough (about 2/3 cups)

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1. Place the olive oil and chopped onions in a high sided saucepan and sauté over medium high heat until translucent and soft and beginning to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute, then add the vermouth, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid is evaporated and the onions are a pale golden color. If the onions need to cook a bit longer to reach golden, add a few tablespoons of water and cook until its evaporated.

2. Add the tomato sauce and pumpkin puree and stir to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup of water, the sage, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat until the sauce has thickened, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, about 10 minutes.

3. The sauce can be made up to a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Leftover sauce is excellent on pasta, particularly a cheese tortellini.

Topping ideas

  • Taleggio cheese, prosciutto or cooked pancetta and fried sage leaves
  • Fontina cheese, cooked Italian sausage, thinly sliced red onion
  • Shaved parmesan cheese Roasted red and yellow pepper strips and mushrooms
  • Mozzarella cheese and bacon
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