Hello, October! This is one of my favorite months of the year… not just because it’s my birthday month, but because it is the best month for fall. And I am truly American in that I absolutely LOVE fall.
I recently came across an article that talked about things Americans don’t realize the rest of the world finds really strange. Some of them are things I often hear from my international friends… the fact that we don’t include tax in the price tag (what is with that anyways?) and our obsession with university pride (something I actually wrote about in one of my other blog posts). But the one that really stood out to me in this article was that Americans are obsessed with pumpkin-flavor… which I can definitely confirm!
As soon as October hits, I am all about the pumpkin pound cake, pumpkin fettuccine, pumpkin beer pretzels… pumpkin everything! In fact, just now I went to my pinterest page to find these recipe links and counted that I have at least 25 different pumpkin recipes pinned. On top of that, my very first blog post was about making pumpkin puree from scratch… so yes, I am stereo-typically American in that I love pumpkin flavors in the fall!
But as the article mentioned, fall is not celebrated the same way here in Europe (or probably most other places in the world). It’s a pretty uniquely American thing. Which is why the past two falls in Sweden have made me a bit more homesick than normal. Where are the pumpkin patches and corn mazes? The pie and cider-making parties? The fall decorations on every door step?
I even tried to find a pumpkin patch in Stockholm area and only found one… that was 5 hours away… that only seemed to grow pumpkins to sell (not really a patch to visit)…. and get this, it’s run by an American! So, unfortunately no pumpkin patches for me this year.
But despite the lack of pumpkins and fall excitement here in Sweden, I have learned to appreciate the Swedish fall. For one, it is still just as beautiful as the falls back home…the leaves still change to beautiful colors, the weather still gives you a mix of sunny days that are perfect for a walk, and blustery days that are perfect for being cozy inside.
My husband and I also found a fall harvest festival this year at our favorite place, Skansen! There were kids playing in hay, fair games, local produce for sale, and traditional music. It ended up being a beautiful day that really got me in the fall spirit! And on our way home we spotted an Apple Festival (something I guess is commonly celebrated here) which we will have to check out next year :).
And the Swedes have their own foods that represent quintessential fall flavors… people often spend fall days in the woods picking mushrooms or lingon berries (we got 3 giant bags of lingon berries in our freezer from Chris’s co-worker who did just that!). And even if pumpkin-flavors aren’t the most popular here, you can still find beautifully colored pumpkins in all the grocery stores around this time.
And our cats don’t seem to care whether they enjoy fall in the US or Sweden… they still love watching the leaves blow around outside (I guess they are really American cats because they definitely LOVE this season).
So, to celebrate my American obsession with fall and pumpkins, I decided to make pumpkin pizza! It’s actually inspired by my second blog post for pumpkin soup, as it incorporates some of the same flavors… just in pizza form! And it ended up being one of my favorite creations I’ve made for the blog so far.
I wasn’t totally sure how this would turn out, but it went beyond expectation. First of all, I used my favorite dough recipe, which I blogged about earlier… it is fluffy, American-style pizza, which I love :).
Then the base of this pizza is actually pumpkin puree, which has a very similar texture to tomato sauce. I added some flavor and spice to the puree and it turned out perfect!
Then the toppings…. the sweetness of the caramelized onions and candied bacon go perfectly with the salty-spicy pepitas… add some creamy, melted cheese and fried sage, and how could you go wrong?! Every bite of this was like a match made in heaven.
And it is surprisingly easy to make too! Since I have been sick (it wouldn’t be fall without a cold!) and busy with my thesis, I opted to just use canned pumpkin and shell out the $4 (40sek) per can. So all this recipe required was a bowl for the dough, one pan for the toppings/sauce, and one baking sheet for the actual pizza! And true confession, I ate it right off the pizza peel. So, four dishes total. Done.
With that, I hope you are having a wonderful fall, wherever you may be! Enjoy those leaves and pumpkins and mushrooms…. because winter is just around the corner (yikes!).
Pumpkin Pizza with Candied Bacon, Caramelized Onions, Fried Sage, and Spicy Pepitas
- 1 ⅛ cup warm water / 2.6 dl varmt vatten
- 3 teaspoons dry yeast / torrjäst
- 1 tablespoon olive oil / olivolja
- 1 tablespoon honey / honung
- 3 cups flour / vetemjöl
- ½ teaspoon salt / salt Sauce:
- 2 cups pumpkin puree / 4.7 dl pumpa pure
- ¼ cup water / 0.6dl vatten
- 1 teaspoon paprika / paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper / svartpeppar
- 2 teaspoons salt / salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne / cayennepeppar Toppings:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil / olivolja
- 8 sage leaves / salvia
- 6 slices bacon / bacon
- 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar / mörkt muscovadorörsocker
- 1 onion / gullök
- ¼ cup pepitas / 0.6 dl pumpa kärnor
- ½ teaspoon olive oil / olivolja
- Pinch of cayenne / cayennepeppar
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika / paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt / salt
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese / 2.4 dl mozzarellaost
- ½ cup herregård or gruyere cheese / 1.2 dl herregårdost
- Mix warm water, yeast, olive oil, and honey using a wooden spoon.
- Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes, until frothy.
- Add in flour and salt, then mix again with a wooden spoon.
- Knead the dough mixture and squeeze into a ball, then rub olive oil on the inside of the bowl and around the dough.
- Let dough rise in the oiled bowl, covered with a clean towel, for about 1 hour.
- While you wait for the dough to rise, you can start making the toppings by rubbing each side of the bacon with the brown sugar and cutting the onions into medium rings.
- Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan on high heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the sage leaves and fry on each side for 10 seconds (or until crispy) – set aside on a paper towel.
- Pour the oil into a container to save for later and reduce the heat to medium (you do not need to wait for the pan to cool).
- Fry the brown sugared bacon in the same pan, cooking for a few minutes on each side until mostly cooked (it will cook more in the oven) – set aside on a plate (it will stick to a paper towel).
- Add the sage oil back to the pan and fry the onions until caramelized (can take 15+ minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 475° F / 250° C
- When the onions are finished caramelizing, remove from the pan and turn off the heat.
- Use the warm pan to lightly heat up the sauce ingredients (you can even leave the heat off).
- Line a large, metal baking pan with tin foil, then toss the pepitas in oil, paprika, cayenne, and salt and place on top.
- Bake the pepitas in the pre-heated oven for 4 minutes, or until golden – (this also heats the pan so it is ready for the pizza, like a pizza stone!)
- When the pepitas are done, remove them and the foil from the pan and set aside.
- When the dough is done rising, punch it down and then stretch it out to form a circular pizza shape.
- Sprinkle a light layer of corn meal on the heated pan and place the stretched out dough on top of cornmeal (you can brush it with a bit of olive oil if you want).
- Place the pan with the dough back in the oven for 2-3 minutes to let the dough pre-bake.
- Carefully (with oven mitts) take the semi-baked dough out of the oven to add the toppings – start with a layer of sauce, then cheese, then bacon pieces, and caramelized onions.
- Bake the pizza in the oven for 8 – 10 minutes, or until cheese is brown and bubbling.
- When the pizza is done baking, remove from the oven and add the fried sage leaves and pepitas on top.
- Wait a few minutes for the cheese to settle, then enjoy!