it’s apple season, otherwise known as the hot-blooded winter heart’s second-favorite time of year. i love all seasons, but i’ve always been an autumn girl, gladly embracing the busyness of a new school year, stashing my sundresses & bikinis without an ounce of regret before reaching for welcoming oversized sweaters, buttery leather boots & soft scarves. this, by default, makes me an apple girl & lover of warming spices–especially cinnamon. the best of friends, these two rarely leave the house without each other.
this fall, though, i’ve been contemplating ways to use my beloved fruit without my equally beloved spice. not because they don’t pair wonderfully, of course, but because the combination is so predictable. the idea for this pizza has been brewing in my head ever since i bought a bunch of wisconsin apples at my local co-op. it was just a matter of when (not if) i was willing to shirk some more important responsibilities & immerse myself in the time-consuming task of making onion jam (one hour is a lot to spare in the life of this mediocre law student with a mildly debilitating addiction to yoga that requires 75-minute indulgences almost daily).
last night presented the perfect opportunity. i should have been catching up in a class i’d fallen behind in, but alas, my thursday was a long one. i worked my shift at the courthouse as a student attorney for my school’s free domestic violence**** clinic, before meeting some fellow law students to plan (plot?) a group project for two hours. after the meeting ended, all i could think about was a cup of tea & cuddling with my dog. when i’d had enough of that, i decided to tackle this pizza. the result was a savory-sweet thin crust thing of beauty. the onion jam, consisting of a tangy-sweet red wine base, whispered sweet nothings to the sweet punches of apple, while creamy, melted slices of brie neutralized the situation. i didn’t notice the kale, which, in all honesty, was added to make me feel better about myself. what? sometimes even the most prolific vegetable lovers have to sneak greens into their diets from time to time. don’t judge. just eat. that’s what we do here.
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-4 large red onions, peeled & thinly sliced
-2 cups cheap red wine
-1/2 cup honey
-1/2 cup red wine vinegar
-3/4 cup flour
-3/4 cup whole wheat flour
-3/4 tsp yeast
-1/2 cup lukewarm water (add 1-2 tbsp if necessary — explanation below)
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 medium-sized apple, any kind, cored & thinly sliced
-8 oz. high quality french brie cheese
-1/2 cup steamed kale
-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1. for pizza dough, combine dry ingredients (including yeast) in a large bowl. add olive oil & water, using your hands or a wooden spoon to combine (hands are easier). form a ball (or as close to a ball as you think you can get), then knead dough for 10 minutes right in the bowl. after 10 minutes of kneading, cover bowl & place in a dark, warm place to rise for about an hour or until dough has doubled in size.
2. heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. when oil begins to shimmer/is hot, add onions. cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until onions are tender & the purple color has faded to a pale pink.
3. add red wine, cooking until wine reduces almost completely (about 15-20 minutes).
4. meanwhile, heat honey over medium heat until it starts bubbling & frothing. heat for an additional 2-3 minutes until the honey turns a light brown caramel color. at this point, add the red wine vinegar & stir occasionally while you simmer the mixture for another 2-3 minutes.
5. preheat oven to 500 degrees or its hottest setting (whichever is lower). set honey/red wine vinegar mixture aside until red wine has reduced almost completely in the other pan. when it has, pour the honey/red wine vinegar mixture into the large saucepan. continue heating over medium-high heat for another 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture has a jam-like consistency (may be slightly more watery than jam, that’s okay).
6. punch down your dough a little bit before rolling it out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured clean surface. you can create a large circular shape pie or a rectangular one. i created a rectangular one (i use the word “rectangular” loosely here) that roughly fit onto a 15 x 10 inch baking sheet (the crust overlapped the pan a bit). the key to making great pizza is to roll the crust out thin enough to cover a surface that large. the other key is not to pile on too many toppings (but you don’t have to worry about that for this particular pizza because i’ve carefully measured out the toppings for you).
7. spread about 3/4 of the onion jam (about 1.5 cups) evenly on top of the pizza dough. top with remaining pizza toppings, sprinkling the mozzarella on last.
8. bake for 8 minutes, or until crust begins curling & browning around the edges of the pan.
*makes 15 3×3-ish slices.
**onion jam recipe is adapted from a food network recipe by alexandra guarnaschelli
***pizza dough recipe from smitten kitchen
****october is national domestic violence month. please do something to honor the 1 in 4 women (& men! whom i don’t have a statistic for, sorry) by donating to or volunteering with your local shelter, spreading the word, or at the very least speaking up when you hear someone making a battered woman joke (yes, these types of people do exist). this remarkable woman came & spoke to my domestic violence class last week. please take a second & read her story. the news article barely does her justice–in her words (& horrific pictures), she was slammed into a cupboard so hard while being strangled that the cupboard frame broke before having her head beat in multiple times with a mallet (she only remembers a few before losing consciousness). she suffered major head injuries, needed to have part of her ear amputated, & suffered a broken hand from trying to block his blows. this all happened before the eyes of her two babies. luckily her abuser is imprisoned for 22 years after pleading no contest to an attempted homicide. her story reminded me of the importance & necessity of speaking out about these issues, which disproportionately affect women. i hope she can inspire you as well.