Mini Pizza: classic kid activity

I know this blog is teetering dangerously close to becoming a mommy blog, but the truth is that almost all the crafty things I do these days involve the kiddos, such is the all-consuming nature of being the parent of a toddler and baby. It’s a blessing (never-ending recipients of crafts and inspirations for craft!) and a curse (no time to do anything for yourself!), but mostly a blessing.

We make pizzas from scratch every other week or so, and this week we stole a bit of the dough to make a wee pizza for the 2 year-old. I diced up some mushrooms (he loves ’em! really!) and gave him some olives and cheese with which to decorate his pizza.

This would be a really great party activity for toddlers, grade-schoolers and beyond, or even adults. Everyone loves to decorate a pizza!

Don’t be intimidated by making pizza from scratch! It’s one of the simplest breads to make, and it’s sooo much cheaper and better than takeout pizza (and light years better than frozen pizza!). Buy your yeast in bulk at a warehouse store or cash-n-carry. You can get a pound of yeast for around $4 in the US. It will last for years in your fridge, and is such a better deal than the stuff in packets. It also works a LOT better! If you shop at these kinds of stores, don’t forget to pick up pre-shredded mozzarella and tomato sauce to maximize your bargain. Double the recipe, make the pizza, and freeze it cut into quarters for nights when you don’t feel like cooking. If you have a toaster oven, it reheats the pizza like new! Okay, now you have our full process for pizza-making! Ha!

In case you don’t have your own pizza dough recipe, here’s ours. Yields 4 small pizzas or 2 large ones.

5 ½ cups flour
2 ½ cups warm water
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp salt
pinch of sugar
Pam® or oil

1)  Whisk warm water, yeast and sugar together in a large bowl.  Let sit for 15 minutes for the yeast to activate.  Foam will form on top.  tip:  If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast.  It should be comfortable to the touch.

2)  Gradually whisk the first 2 cups of flour into the water/yeast mixture until it is smooth.  Pour in 3 cups of flour and add the salt.  Use hands to mix together and form dough.  tip:  Use the last ½ cup of flour if you need it.  You want a soft, barely sticky dough.

3)  Knead dough for 8-10 minutes, form into ball.  Lightly coat inside of bowl and dough with oil.  Cover with plastic wrap or damp cloth.  Allow to rise for 3 hours.  tip:  Since this is pizza dough, not bread, the rise time isn’t essential—let it rise as long as you can.

4)  Punch down the dough and cut into quarters (or in half for 2 large pizzas).  Knead into four (or two) balls of dough.  Set the oven to bake at 500° F.  Lightly oil 12″ pizza pan (or 16″ for large) and work first ball into pizza crust on pan.  tip:  If you let the dough balls sit for 10 minutes or so they will begin to rise again and will be easier to flatten onto pan.

5)  Add sauce, cheese, toppings.  Bake for ten minutes.  Let cool before cutting.  Repeat.  tip:  If you want the make the outer crust a little bit special, melt some butter with garlic (powdered, diced, minced, whole, whatever you like) and brush it onto the edges of the crust before adding sauce and toppings.