I feel the word ‘love’ is used too freely, brandished around without a care in the world. I am the main culprit of this.
I have made many people uncomfortable by telling them I love them despite the fact I do not know them. I love a lot of people and a lot of things.
I love Dave. I love my family, I love my friends and I love my blog.
But… in no particular order, I also love…
- The guy who massages my head while washing it in the hairdressers. (By the way – who are the people saying ‘no’ to this? Two things – 1st I’ll have yours. 2nd I don’t want to be your friend. I happen to know my sister is one of these despicable people.)
- Whoever brings me my food in a Restaurant
- American Sit-Coms
- Sainsbury’s Jam Donuts
- Health and fitness magazines
- Not getting asked to buy a train ticket
- Parking directly outside work.
When the ‘love’ starts getting spread this thin, it can start to lose it’s proper meaning – kind of like the word Awesome….
I truly adore Dave’s bones. He is my whole wide world. Sometimes I am so overcome with love I can’t bear myself. Times like coming home to find Health & Fitness magazine at my door, because he signed me up to a subscription despite his hatred of them (I can buy 4 – 5 a month), or that he lets me go to Bluebell with KFC without argument. Or when I am lower than low, he is prepared to build me a fort and hide in it with me. It is times like this that I want to tell him I love him…..not like I love the other things. But earth crushing, world stopping, stop eating, love.
At these times, and if you ever have this problem, you should make this pizza. This is the pizza that says ‘this love is the real deal’. You know that Rachel Ray recipe for Vodka pasta that promises that your man will propose? It’s kind of like that. Only I don’t know if anyone will get proposed to…. (if any unmarried friends could make this happen, that would be great. It would make this pizza story sooo much better) but they will love you, forever. You will be forever the person that made this AWESOME pizza. Incredible. Honest. I would not lie to you.
Ok so the thought of making pizza is daunting. I know this; fear has stopped me from making pizza for 10 years. When I’ve tried before my dough didn’t rise. My toppings were too heavy. But this is like a pizza that you’ve never had before.
The dough is super easy – it comes courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. She gives you different yeast amounts and different times to suit your schedule. I promise you it’s a case of mix and cover. The hardest part is the rolling. Only you don’t roll, you push it gently into the shape you want it, with lots of flour because it will be sticky. If your dough doesn’t rise, it’s most likely because your yeast is dead(You can test this by mixing 1 teaspoon of yeast with luke-warm water, if it bubbles after 10 minutes, your yeast is good. No change? You need a new box of yeast.) Deb has like a million comments on this dough so anything I can’t answer, will almost certainly have been answered here. I have used all three methods, the all-day method and the overnight one and the half day one. The overnight one, so far, has been the best for me, but that could have been because I cooked the pizza off the all day method and reheated it the next day… so….
So now I’ve rambled about the pizza dough, let me tell you what makes this pizza so special. It has no tomato. The base is butternut squash. With cheese. That’s it. Then when it’s out the oven, you sprinkle over crispy sage, crispy bacon, caramelised onions and chilli flakes.
Allow me to describe what happens when you bite in. You’re teeth sink in through hot, stringy mozzarella, you then get a caramel-y onion flavour which is both savoury and sweet, through to soft sweet creamy butternut squash and then through a crisp chewy bready base. As you chew, you get savoury sage, intensely smoky salty bacon and finally the spice of chilli.
Sit back, light a smoke, you are done.
The mouth burn you get from the cheese….Totally worth it.
Butternut Squash, bacon and sage pizza
I know it looks like a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps but it comes together quickly. You can do it bit by bit, and more than that, it is definitely worth the effort. I honestly think that you could pull this pizza together for an after-work tea, if you had pre-roasted the squash, and had a stash of ready caramelised onions – which I highly recommend.
The idea for this recipe came from How Sweet Eats. She didn’t have a recipe but she provided me with an idea that has changed pizza eating in the Duggan house.
She also made a body scrub which makes you smell like brownies. The woman is clearly a genius. Also – her name is Jess. Must be something in the name…. she looks more feminine than me though…I bet she doesn’t get called Geoff.
You could use this butternut squash puree tossed with pasta too.
- Taken Directly from Smitten Kitchen
- 3 cups (325g) plain white flour
- 1/8 teaspoon dried active yeast – I used Allinson’s
- 1 and ¼ cups (310ml) water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Butternut Squash
- ½ butternut squash cut in half length ways
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon oil – I used coconut
- 1 tablespoon of a mixture of ground cumin, dried oregano, chilli, flakes and cinnamon – these spices go real nice with butternut squash and I always have them around in my cupboard. You could leave them out if you don’t have them.
- ¼ cup mascarpone or ricotta
- Caramelised onions
- 3 white onions
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 ball Mozzarella drained
- 1 tablespoon of chilli flakes – more or less depending on spice tolerance, but I definitely wouldn’t miss them out all together
- 3 slices smoked bacon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 10 sage leaves
- Parmesan - optional
- The night before you want your pizza, mix flour and salt in large bowl, add yeast and then mix in the water. When all combined cover with Clingfilm and leave it for 22 – 24 hours. I like to shape mine into a ball shape-ish before I cover it.
- Preheat oven to 180oC/Gas mark 6/ 35oF.
- Place butternut squash on a baking tray, scoop out seeds and spread oil, spices and salt and pepper over butternut squash.
- Bake for an hour, or until completely soft.
- Once the butternut squash is soft remove from the oven, and increase the oven to as high as it will go. Place an oven tray/pizza stone on a low shelf and place a self in the middle of the oven so you’re ready to put your pizza in. Scoop out the soft squash and add it to a food processor, add the mascarpone/ricotta and blend until smooth-ish. You could just mash it with a potato masher if you don’t have a food processor. I found mine to be wetter than i’d expected. So I heated a pan and added the butternut squash mixture and cooked it for about two minutes until it started to firm up. You may find you don’t need to do this, but I would recommend it.
- Slice onions finely, heat the oil in a large pan and add onions. Lower the heat, add salt and pepper and sugar and cook for between 15 – 45 minutes until completely soft, fragrant and jammy. You’ll need to keep an eye on them and stir from time to time, but as long as the heat is low enough they shouldn’t burn.
- Your dough should have risen, not to great heights like normal dough but you’ll notice a difference. Flour a surface well, and dump your dough onto it. I like to use greaseproof paper so I can just move it straight onto the pizza stone/oven sheet. This is the hardest part of it all. Because it’s so sticky you have to push, press and generally be patient (something I don’t have) trying to push your dough into the shape you want it. I like to push, pull and then flip it over to make sure it doesn’t stick to the paper/worktop. You should get a roundish, squarish shape enough to feed 2-3 people. The dough can tear, just push it back together and pull at it somewhere else. Do not use a rolling pin. It will be useless, get covered in sticky dough and make you unhappy. I like to make it thicker at the crusts but do as you please.
- Drain your mozzarella and tear into bite sized chunks, spread over your butternut squash pizza base, top with the mozzarella and good grind of black pepper.
- I used Dave for the next part.
- Remove the hot tray/stone from the oven and slide your greaseproof onto it and put back in scorching hot oven on the middle shelf you prepared earlier. Bake for 15 minutes, turning half way through if your oven doesn’t bake evenly.
- While it’s baking, heat a frying pan and fry your bacon until really really crisp. Remove, add the butter and fry sage until crisp.... (bacon-butter fried sage!)
- Crumble the bacon and the sage, and mix in the chilli flakes.
- Remove the pizza from the oven when golden all over, scatter over your onions and sprinkle over the bacon – sage mix.
- Grate over some parmesan.
- Eat. I burnt my mouth. I’m ok with it.
- Deb's dough recipe makes two pizza's. I made one pizza and it worked the best for me.
- Some of the photos look like I added the onions before cooking. This was a big mistake, they just burnt because of the sugar and the high heat. Add them at the end.