They love to measure ingredients, mix, knead the dough, and top the pizza. Oh, and they love eating what they create!
We start by making our own dough, a whole wheat/oat/white flour blend that really handles nicely and fills us up better than all white flour. It takes less than an hour to rise, so I can start it around 4:30 and still have dinner on the table by 6:00. This also freezes well in an oiled zip-top bag, so we make a double batch and freeze half. Less work next time!
Ingredients for a single batch:
- 1 TBSP active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup dry quick oats
- 2-3 cups white flour (start with 2, adding more as needed)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 TBSP sugar (I use a lot, since yeast feeds on sugar and will need more if frozen or kept in the fridge for a few days)
- 1 cup very warm water (hot water kills yeast)
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1/3 cup red sauce (or pesto) We just use regular pasta sauce from a jar...fancy, huh?
- 2 cups shredded cheese - Italian blends are good, mozzarrella, smoked provolone
- Your favorite toppings - we love colossal-size black olives, red onion, peppers, tomatoes, garlic...really just whatever we have on hand. We throw on leftover grilled, chopped chicken breast or sausage when we have it.
- Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir in water and olive oil (a stand mixer works, too, if it can handle a stiff dough...switch to bread hooks once you've got your ingredients mixed)
- If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto floured surface. As you knead, slowly add more white flour until dough is no longer sticky (it should feel smooth and elastic). Kids love to help knead the dough. You can separate it into smaller lumps for them to work with and combine at the end for a final thorough kneading.
- Place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm, dry place to rise until doubled in bulk. (If the sunny spot on my back porch isn't warm enough, I pre-warm my oven and then turn it off to let the dough rise.)
- Once dough is doubled, show it off to the kids...it's fascinating! Punch it down and press into an oiled pan (we use a round pizza pan, but a cookie sheet works fine, too).
- Add sauce, cheese and toppings...this part is fun for the kids, as long as you supervise. Our cheese always seems to pile up in one spot!
- Bake in preheated 450°F oven for 12-15 minutes.
See some of our favorite pizza-making books below. The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza is very cute, and Pete's a Pizza, by William Steig, is a fun read that our kids just LOVE to act out.