After the success of Thanksgiving Pizza, Neil and I knew it was something to make habit for all the little holidays throughout they year that we often don’t pay much attention to. We’ve been looking forward to our Valentine’s edition pizza ever since. It’s not that we ignore Valentine’s but typically we’re always a little busy and the stress of making dinner reservations or making a big deal of it really isn’t our style. Besides, ever since we started cooking at home, I find it far more romantic than going out. Remember our Valentine’s sushi date last year? Romantic AND frugal, plus we weren’t competing with everyone else for tables and service. Can’t beat it. Also, (mom stop reading now!) one can’t help but consider the convenient proximity to the bedroom.
In retrospect we probably didn’t scheme the toppings as much as we could have. We could have gone all out with something overly red and pink, but we both love Canadian bacon and pineapple, and as many of you in relationships know, agreeing on pizza toppings is sometimes like negotiating a peace settlement in a war-torn country. Additionally If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you might remember me falling in love with this pig and pineapple pizza a year or so back. We had to make it, and last night was the night.
For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
1/2 cup canned or fresh beets puree
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used an herbed variety)
1 ½ teaspoons coarse kosher salt
3 ½ cups unbleached bread flour (I used ½ bread flour, ½ whole wheat flour)
½ cup white or yellow cornmeal
Our toppings (you can obviously do whatever you like):
2 cups shredded cheese (we used Monty Jack)
¾ cup tomato sauce
¾ cup chopped pineapple
12 large slices of Sopressata (or any thinly sliced sausage)
Cinnamon (for the Sopressata, it tastes amazing as it cooks)
1. To make beet puree: Wash beets and place in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 15-20 minutes or until forkable. Remove from heat and drain into a colander. Skins should peel off, and then beets can be cut into 1-inch pieces. Puree in a food processor for 1-2 minutes or until large pieces have been obliterated. My advice: Save yourself the horrendous mess and just use canned beets.
2. Pour warm water into a medium bowl and slowly whisk in yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes, then add honey, olive oil and mashed sweet potato. Whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth. Note: if you used canned beets in water, feel free to use the very red water in place of new tap water. It will add more color to your dough.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt. Slowly stir in wet ingredients and continue to mix until it becomes impossible. If you are using a mixer, this would be the time to switch to the dough hook attachment, otherwise use your hands to continue mixing and slowly kneading your dough, adding more flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking.
4. Once you’ve created your nice dough ball, add olive oil to the bottom of a bowl and roll the dough ball in the oil until it is coated. Cover with saran wrap or damp towel and store in a dry place (I use my microwave) for one hour.
5. Around the last 15 minute mark, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Flour your hands and roll dough onto a pizza stone or pizza dish. Fold over edge to create a raised outer edge around the crust. Brush crust lightly with olive oil and place in heated oven, baking for 5-8 minutes alone (without toppings).
6. Remove and cover crust with a layer of tomato sauce and the rest of your toppings. Bake at 400 degrees for an additional 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool, then slice and enjoy!
Yes, we cut the Sopressata into heart shapes to be festive. We had fun with this, and as nervous as I was wondering how beets would taste in the crust, I was surprised at how sweet it ended up being. I’d even venture to say it was sweeter than the Sweet Potato Garlic Knots we made last fall. It definitely got less pink with rising and baking (as you can see in the photos above), but it was still very colorful and fun.
So you know what comes after Valentines Day right? St. Patrick’s Day! The perfect green crust is already in the works…
How are you going to celebrate Valentine’s this year? Low-key? Fancy? What’s your favorite Valentine’s candy/treat?