Pizza making is a great way to get small kids to get involved in cooking, its also a great idea for a casual dinner party. Once the dough is made then the rest is easy peasy. The dough can be made the night before, and even better it can be frozen in ziplock bags, meaning an authentic slice of Italy is never too far away.
Ever the calorie conscious diva that I am, I usually go in for pizzas with ‘zero point’ toppings and a ‘zero point’ homemade tomato base sauce. By adding flavour in the form of chilli and herbs then the pizza can remain low fat and still taste delicious.
I tried to be a true pizza making hero and ditched the rolling pin, in favour of the traditional way of making them with my hands stretching, and tossing and flipping in the air. My advice for this method is, unless you are a true Pro, then don’t do it, more dough will end up on the floor than in your belly. Furthermore, I didn’t get anything that resembled a round pizza. In saying that, a rustic ‘circle’ gave the pizza more homemade’loving’ feel. I do recommend rolling out the pizza until the dough is paper, nearly see-through, thin. It gives a fabulous crispy base and less dough is needed, thus fewer calories, but more pizzas.
As far as toppings go, anything goes really. I don’t like to put too much on the pizza as I find if you overcrowd it, then the base gets soggy and nobody wants a soggy bottom!!
The list is endless for pizza toppings, you can add any type of meat, eggs, fish, veggies, fresh salad post cooking, and the variety of cheeses is endless. I like a traditional Italian pizza with just buffalo mozzeralla (low fat of course), olives and sundried tomatoes. Whereas my husband will go all out with a total meat feast of salamis, pepperonis, parma ham, bacon and pinapple (the pineapple makes him feel healthy).
I decided to make pizza over the weekend when I had a toddler to entertain. My beautiful niece Naoise is used to cooking and baking with her mom, so I thought it would be a great way to keep her occupied for an hour or so. The little munchkin came equipped with her own apron and rolling pin, meaning big business. The making of the pizza I think, was more enjoyable for her than the eating. The smooth running of this was all in the prep. I had her own dough ready made for her, so she could play with it and roll it. I had her grated cheese and ham and pinapple pre-cut and ready to go also. She got a great kick out of it and stayed quietly eating her pizza for an hour at the table, allowing us a chilled out time for grown-up pizza and white wine! If you are having kids over, or planning a kids birthday, then judging by the response the pizza making got from Naoise, a pizza making party should go down well. A word of warning though, be prepared, very prepared for a messy flour covered kitchen.
Serves 6 pizzas
Tomato sauce base
(You can use passata from a carton/jar if time is of the essence)
· Tinned of peeled tomatoes
· 1 onion finely diced
· ½ red chilli, deseeded and chopped (no chilli for children)
· 1 tbsp of tomato puree
· 650g 00 flour
· 7g of fast action yeast
· 25mls of olive oil
· 25mls of olive oil
· 50mls Milk
· 325ml warm water
· 2 tsp of salt
· Dried Oregano
· Chilli Oil
· Low fat Mozzerella
· This is a personal choice. Feel free to use which ever you like best to create your own individual pizza. I like olives, sundried tomatoes and rocket.
Ham & Pineapple – what it says on the tin!
Meat Feast - salami, pepperoni, parma ham, bacon bits, jalapeno peppers
Veggie Heaven – courgette, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, sweetcorn
The tomato sauce and the dough can be both premade 24 hours in advance, even frozen.
The Tomato Sauce
1. Get a pan on the heat and sweat the onions and garlic for 5 minutes
2. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced down considerably.
I got the dough recipe from the BBC Good Food website, there are lots of different versions out there, this is Silvano Francos take on it, and it was simple and gave a really great crisp dough, that didn’t feel stodgy.
1. Add the flour, salt and yeast to a bowl and mix well.
2. Add the milk and oil and mix well, and then gradually add the water and mix to form a soft dough
3. Dust the work surface with flour and turn the dough out onto the flour.
4. Kneed continuously for 5-10 minutes. Once the dough isn’t sticky and is elastic, place in a clean bowl that has been rubbed with olive oil.
5. Cover with cling film and leave for 2 hours to rise.
6. At this stage if leaving overnight just refrigerate, and take out of fridge 2 hours before you wish to use.
7. When ready to use the dough, flour the work surface again, and turn out the dough to the flour. Kneed again for 5 minutes to knock out the air.
8. Shape the dough into a sausage shape and cut into equal balls.
9. Roll the dough into rounds and place on baking paper on a tray.
1. Have the oven preheated to 200 degrees.
2. Smear the tomato sauce over the base, leaving ½ inch clear on the edges. Use only 2 tbsp of sauce per pizza (the base will have a very soggy bottom otherwise)
3. Then top with your preferred toppings and sprinkle with oregano.
4. Bake in the oven until the dough is cooked and cheese melted, approx. 15 minutes. Careful it doesn’t burn.
5. You may wish to add herbs/rocket/chilli oil just before serving.