We’d finally come to the last day of the six-week holiday. And what a holiday it had been! The smaller members of the ‘G’ family had spent heady days enjoying themselves, tearing around various indoor and outdoor play centres. The other half had just about clung onto her sanity whilst coming to the bittersweet realisation that the youngest was about to start full-time school.
It had been an emotional weekend, for the schoolers and proud parents too. So, to make it as enjoyable as possible, we decided to ask the kids what they’d like as a final holiday tea before the school day madness ensued. The youngest, despite our best efforts to persuade her towards a roast dinner, chose the not so traditional Sunday evening meal – pizza.
We really enjoy making our own pizza from scratch. Ok, there’s no getting away from it, pizza’s not the healthiest of meals compared to some. However, as a treat, and also being homemade, we know what goes into it within reason – no added salts, sugars and preservatives, so we certainly didn’t have huge guilt in preparing it. We also find the whole family gets involved (and enjoy it!). Plus, it’s quick to prepare, once the dough is sorted, so was one of the best ways to spend a chilly, damp Sunday afternoon.
Getting Started – Homemade Pizza Recipe
There are 3 main components: the dough, tomato sauce base and toppings.
We use a take on a homemade ‘Magic’ bread dough recipe from chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from his ‘Veg Everyday’ book. This is really versatile and works really successfully for us nearly every time (we’re no Paul Hollywood!). We like the way we can choose the thickness of the base depending on which member of the family is rolling (mummy likes a thinner base etc.).
There are of course ready-made pizza bases readily available from supermarkets or even premix ‘just add water’ dry dough, to make it even easier if you don’t have time to make your own dough.
‘Magic’ Pizza Dough
- 250g Plain White Flour
- 250g Strong White Flour
- Sachet dried yeast
- 325ml Luke warm water
- 1tsp Salt
- 1tbsp Olive oil (with a little extra for proving)
When we first decided to make our own pizzas, we were a bit apprehensive. Yet, now we’ve had a bit of practise, we’re really happy with the results and never buy shop bought pizza!
Mix the dry ingredients well and add the water gradually until all combined. It’s a sticky mix – as you can see from the photos, but it does combine eventually with a bit of persistence and kneading on a floured surface for up to 10 minutes (we all had a go). The dough should ‘bounce back’ when pressed in.
Pop it in a bowl with a little drizzle of oil rubbed over it, before covering it with a damp tea towel. You then need to leave it in a warm place (we leave it in the microwave for an hour or two) until it’s doubled in size.
Next you need to tip it out and knock it back so the air lets out of it. We then flour a surface and cut the dough into four pieces – two smaller and two larger. Now, the dough is ready to roll!
Tomato Sauce Base
- 400g Tinned Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 tbsp EV Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
This is as simple basic and easy as it gets for a tomato sauce. There are lots of ‘proper’ recipes out there. These tend to include herbs and spices and involve different preparations methods. We find this once works for us and gives just enough sauce for 4 pizzas!
Pour all the ingredients into a pan, bring to the boil, mix in the oil and puree. Then simply, simmer it for 30 minutes, until thickened. You can then spoon the desired amount onto each rolled base!
- 1 x Bag Ready Grated Mozzarella
- Grated Cheddar – weight unknown – until the eldest’s arm was tired of grating, which wasn’t long
- Homemade Roasted Vegetables (optional)
- Smoked ham
Toppings are fairly self-explanatory. We try not to go overboard so that the bases stay crispy. Too many toppings can cause a soggy bottom in the middle and nobody wants that…!
We cooked the smaller pizzas first in a pre-heated fan oven at about 200C, with the kids choice of topping. This was mostly cheese and pepperoni.
It’s tricky to advise an exact time to cook them, as each batch cooks slightly differently but in our experience 10-12 minutes gives a crispy crust and a nice colour on the cheese but it’s definitely worth keep an eye on them if you can.
This isn’t a recipe you can just ‘leave the kids to’, as the kneading of the dough takes quite a bit of effort and it needs to be left to prove. As long as the kids are monitored, the actual rolling of the dough and topping is straightforward, fun and hands on!
As you can see, the smaller G’s, and one of the nieces, had fun, loved getting messy and enjoyed the finished product.
We served them with crudité veg and crème fraiche for dipping. The final bonus for them was eating ‘on their knee’ before the dreaded bedtime routine. If you’ve got younger kids, the Melissa and Doug Pizza set is perfect for making them feel involved at the same time as older siblings!
Why not have a go with your kids!