Monday, 12 May 2014

Pumpkin Pizza

Winter is upon us and I suddenly have a longing for soup, heart warming vegetable stews and casseroles, parsley dumplings and curries. Time to head for my recipe files and sort them out, something I have been meaning to do for a very long time.

Time seems short now because I am trying my hardest to put on my hiking boots every day and head out into the bush for a walk. (Bush = countryside). Living so close to a National Park is wonderful because the walks are varied, it has a natural beauty and if you are lucky you get to see some wild life, koalas, emus, birds and the odd kangaroo. I am building up my muscles to be able to go on extended hikes, aiming by the end of winter to handle more than 20 kms at a time.
For any hardened bush walker this may seem a bit pathetic, but it is the best I can do right now!

So I had an idea that if I made some pizza dough, left it to rise while I went walking I could have a big chunk of pizza for lunch! What's more, I will feel that I have earned it! What a way to celebrate Mother's Day!

It was very foggy in the National Park

I love pizza! I like it simple, bocconcini, home made tomato sauce, a handful of freshly picked basil, cheese and a scattering of olives. In Italy, pizza is very simple; tomato, cheese, fresh basil and a beautiful crusty dough - heavenly! Large slices are sold like fast food, take-away!

But I also like this Pizza! It has lots of flavour, easy to make and adds a little something else which I am sure you will enjoy!

Pumpkin Pizza

Here is the most amazing pizza dough recipe. It is so easy I can now make it blindfolded. The dough will make the equivalent of two pizza bases, unless you like a really thick dough. I usually put half in the freezer for later use, or make 2! This is a standard - no fail - Pizza Dough recipe and you can use it as a base with any pizza topping!

Dough Ingredients
3 tbls Olive Oil
2 cups of Plain Flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp Salt
3/4 cup of warm water
8g Dried Yeast


Put all the dried ingredients into a large bowl and mix together. Add the oil to the water and mix into the flour. Keep mixing with your hands until it all comes together to make a dough. Keep working it in the bowl, don't add more water. Knead for about 5 - 8 minutes on a floured board. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until it has doubled in size. I usually leave this on a window sill for an hour, but you will have to gauge this depending on where you place it.

When it has doubled in size, punch out the air on a floured board break into 2 pieces. Roll out one on a floured board to the size and thickness you like and it is ready for your topping. I have used all of the dough for one big pizza but easier to handle if you make two!

I cook mine either on a bread stone or a normal pizza pan, which ever you have available. Remember that the bread stone needs to be heated gradually to avoid cracking. Put it into the cold oven when you turn your oven on and bring the temperature to 210C, fan forced.

Pizza Topping

Pizza Ingredients

1/2 butternut or Jap pumpkin, seeds and skin remove and cut into  thin slices

100g  mild blue cheese
4 tbls maple syrup
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
Handful of rocket or baby Spinach
1 tbls Olive Oil
1 tbls balsamic vinegar
120g Pecorino/Mozarella Cheese
Fresh basil

Oven temp,  fan forced at 180C degrees. Add olive oil, cumin, chilli flakes into a roasting pan and add the pumpkin and coat with spices and oil. Add maple syrup over the top. Cook in the oven for 15 -20 minutes until soft. Take out pumpkin and reserve any liquid. (You can use left over pumpkin in a salad, it is good hot or cold).
Add pecorino/mozzarella to pizza base, lay pumpkin on top, add small chunks of the blue cheese, and basil. Mix tablespoon of balsamic vinegar with a little olive oil and add this to the pumpkin juices and sprinkle over the top of the pizza. 
Turn the oven up to 210C degrees and cook for around 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and the dough is browned. Serve hot with a few rocket leaves and fresh basil. The blue cheese in the pizza is not very strong but you can substitute for any other cheese you prefer.

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