Happy Valentine’s Day!!! If you’re looking for the perfect show-stopper romantic dinner, look no further. There is nothing hotter than a guy who can twirl pizza dough, yes? But a heart-shaped pizza takes it to a whole new level!
To digress for a moment, I came across a HUGE bin of Granny Smith apples on a recent trip to the BC Tree Fruits warehouse. It was a bit nostalgic, as I used to eat mountains of Granny Smith apples as a kid, but somehow got romanced away by other varieties such as Gala and Ambrosia (killer apple varieties by the way!). I always loved the tartness of Granny Smith apples and the fact that they are a sure bet in the crisp department, so I filled a bag with them and off I went to experiment.
Fast forward two nights, and I was supposed to order in pizza for my cousin Sammy’s birthday that evening… but I just couldn’t bring myself to pick up the phone to call the order in. I mean, I could MAKE better pizza at home, yes? So off I went to make my own pizza, because doing things the simple way simply isn’t my jam. To add to my case, it is after all Apple Month, and since I’ve always wanted to try apples on a pizza AND I had a fridge full of local BC Tree Fruit apples, an apple pizza seemed like an obvious solution.
Hands down, apples and aged cheddar with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves are pure heaven on this pizza! It reminds me of an apple rosemary focaccia bread that I used to splurge on in my university days (I believe it was from Terra Breads), SO GOOD! I tried it with and without the butternut squash, delicious either way (the last picture in the post at the bottom is with the squash). You don’t have to shape it into a heart, but why not? And who cares if it’s not Valentine’s Day, I think a heart-shaped pizza works for any day of the year (i.e. your cousin’s birthday?)!
Leave yourself plenty of time to make the dough, it takes about 8 plus hours to rise (I make mine in the morning to have for dinner)! I modified my crust recipe from Molly Yeh’s cookbook Molly On The Range (which apparently came from Jim Lahey) to decrease the rise time and get a slightly less sticky dough OR you can use the pizza crust recipe that I’ve used for years here, it takes about 2 hours!
Makes 4-6 pizzas
Pizza Dough: (or use this one if you only have a couple hours)
- 525 g. bread flour (3 1/3 c.)
- 2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. yeast
- 350 g. water (1 1/2 c.)
- semolina flour for sprinkling on the pizza stone before cooking
- olive oil
- 2 c. grated aged white cheddar cheese
- 2 BC Tree Fruits Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored & finely sliced
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- optional: butternut squash slices (I peel my squash and use a vegetable peeler to shave the slices off the squash in long strips)
- For the pizza dough, mix together the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water, stir to combine well, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside for 8-12 hours, until it is bubbly and doubled in size.
- Once the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 500F (as high as it will go) and preheat your pizza stone. I highly recommend a pizza stone, BUT you can use a baking sheet if you don’t have one.
- Divide the dough into 4-6 pieces (depending on how many pizzas you want to make). On a well-floured surface, toss each ball of dough to coat it (the dough is quite sticky), and gently start to shape it into a pizza crust, stretching it with your knuckles. You can shape it into a heart at this point (easiest while it is on the counter).
- Remove your pre heated pizza stone from the oven, sprinkle it with about a tablespoon of semolina flour, and gently place your pizza dough on top of the semolina.
- Brush the centre of the dough with olive oil, add one layer of the apple slices (add the butternut squash at this stage if you wish as well), top with a handful of the grated cheddar and sprinkle with the thyme leaves.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is light brown and the cheese is bubbling. Remove from the oven to serve and repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.
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