Many people love pizza night. Our house is no exception. The kids think it's especially fun because they get to participate: punch down the dough, make an odd shaped pizza crust, slather on the sauce, and top it all off with cheese and maybe more, if the additional toppings didn't get consumed while completing the first several steps. From start to finish, it's a great way to teach kids about food, including both the ingredients and the process all while having some (potentially patience trying) fun!
Are you interested in how we do it, both as a family and during Real Food 4 Kids cooking classes? Read on for the recipe and process, and some fun pictures too:
Crust & Baking
Feeds a family of 5-6, depending on how much everyone eats. (From the Joy of Cooking, with a few adaptions)
- Combine 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (same as 1 packet) and 1 1/3 cups warm water (100-110 degrees C) in a bowl or saucepan. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons sugar on top. Let sit for 15 minutes until foamy on top.
- In a large bowl, combine 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 tablespoon salt. Mix with a spoon. (There are lots of recipes where I use whole wheat flour, particularly in muffins and even pancakes. This is not one of those recipes!)
- Pour yeast mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a spatula until somewhat combined. Pour out onto a clean countertop and knead by hand for 10 minutes. (Give the kids about 2 minutes until they get tired!)
- Rub olive oil around the entire inside of the large bowl you were using. Place dough in the bowl and cover with a piece of plastic wrap and a few dish towels to keep warm. Place in a warm spot and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. It should double in size.
- Take dough out of the bowl and punch it down (the kids favorite part!). Divide it up into however many pizzas you want to make, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Grease a few large baking pans (cookie sheets or half-sheet pans will work fine), and dust with cornmeal.
- Shape the dough with a rolling pin or by hand. The more interesting shape the better! Place on baking sheet.
- Get creative with the topping!
- Once you're ready to bake, put the pans in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust gets a hint of brown.
- This can be super easy! Use a can of whole peeled tomatoes, pureed, plus some salt, pepper, and any desired herbs like basil and oregano. A can of tomato sauce with nothing added also works. As does a jar of pasta sauce in a pinch.
- A pound of mozzarella, shredded by hand or food processor. (If you want to make it even easier, buy pre-shredded mozzarella. If you really want to get your hands dirty, take an extra hour to make homemade mozzarella using a gallon of whole milk, a rennet tablet and some citric acid! Check out this fun kit at http://www.cheesemaking.com)
- Pepperoni slices, sausage that has been cooked on the stovetop until it crumbles, diced peppers, sliced mushrooms, and whatever else you can think of!
Or, if you're me, I'll start with a brush of olive oil, add a layer of pesto, and top it with some sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, feta, sliced olives, and some prosciutto. Mmmm.....good.
If this sounds like a bit much to start, we'll be making homemade pizzas from scratch during our "Lunchables" cooking class on Sunday, April 9th. Along with some super-yummy baked chocolate pudding. Have your child join us! The class has a maximum of 6 kids and is 100% hands-on.
Happy pizza baking!!