Night slowly descended and glowing orange lights flickered on as the witching hour drew nearer. We donned capes and pointed hats, impractically sloped heels and brittle broom sticks, preparing to take the town by storm. It was Halloween night, better than Christmas Eve in my young mind’s eye, and it was almost time for the show to begin. Untold treasures awaited at every turn, the thrill of the hunt pushing caravans of candy-crazed children deeper into the bowels of the city, seeking a sugar high that comes but once a year. Oversized empty bags at hand, we were ready to cause mayhem.
But then the doorbell rang. It wasn’t an early batch of trick-or-treaters beating us to the chase, but the pizza man. One can’t plunder on an empty stomach, after all.
Equally important to the ritual and tradition, my family always ordered pizza before embarking on the annual Halloween candy crawl. Turns out I wasn’t alone; the busiest night of the year for pizza delivery and takeout is Halloween, beating out even Super Bowl Sunday.
Like ordering Chinese takeout on Christmas Day, I thought it was something quirky and unique to my family, but it turns out everyone else was hip to the trend all along. Of course, these old school pies were nothing special; just your average cheese and/or pepperoni options. Maybe it would have been more remarkable if there was a more thematic meal to suit the moonlit masquerade ahead.
Something with a mysterious, mischievous black crust, dark as night, perfumed with a hint of smoke enhanced by a lightly charred surface. Thin, crisp, yet structurally sound, it has no trouble bearing the weight of abundant autumnal toppings. Classic red sauce can take the night off when pumpkin steps up to the plate. Spread richly over the surface, that creamy, garlicky sauce combines the natural sweetness of everyone’s favorite orange squash with the savory flavors of nutritional yeast. Tender sweet potato slices seal the deal, contrasted with sharp red onion slivers and a touch of hot red pepper flakes for a devilish finish.
Before you send your little ghouls and goblins off to collect their sugary plunder, don’t forget to fill them up with something a bit more satiating. The witching hour will come to pass in the blink of an eye, but the memories of the time leading up to it will last a lifetime.
- 1/2 Cup Warm Water
- 1 Teaspoon Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
- 1 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1/8 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
- 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Food-Grade Charcoal
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Garlic Pumpkin Sauce:
- 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
- 1/3 Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1/4 Cup Plain Non-Dairy Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to Taste
- 1/4 Large Red Onion, Thinly sliced
- 1 Small Sweet Potato, Peeled and Very Thinly Sliced (About 1/8th Inch)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Place the warm water, brown sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix lightly to combine and allow about 10 minutes for the yeast to reawaken and become frothy.
- Incorporate the oil and liquid smoke before adding the flour, charcoal, and salt. Mix thoroughly to combine. Use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead for about 10 minutes, or by hand for closer to 15, until the dough is smooth and elastic, but still slightly sticky.
- Transfer to a clean bowl and lightly grease. Cover, place in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in volume; 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing together all the ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Get the toppings ready to go while you're at it.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and lightly grease a pizza stone or sheet pan.
- Once risen, turn the dough out onto your prepared pan. Use your hands to stretch it out towards the edges in an even circle about 14-inches in diameter. If it begins to fight you and starts shrinking back before you reach the full size, let it rest for 15 minutes before giving it a final pull. Leave a thicker ring of dough around the edges to form the crust
- Bake the pizza on the lower oven rack until it looks dry on top but is not yet fully baked; about 8 - 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and spread the sauce all over the top, leaving a 1/2-inch rim around the edge clear. Scatter the sliced sweet potato and red onion evenly on top, and finish with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes.
- Bake on the upper oven rack for an additional 10 - 15 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the potatoes are tender. Broil on high for a final 5 minutes to get a bit of color on the potato slices.
- Let cool for just a few minutes before slicing and serving.
The sauce can be prepared in advance and stored in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 207Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 344mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g