Most parents will agree, pizza is a food staple in their child's diet. Picky eaters never turn down the well loved dish and it's an easy family meal to fall back on when you have a busy day. There were a few times when our kids joined cooking classes at resorts and one of the most popular is always pizza making. The chefs assisted in making the dough ahead of time and of course each pizza was placed in a wood fired oven at the end, but the results were always delicious and created the perfect family meal. I realized one day while homeschooling it was an easy idea to replicate at home. The dough is probably the hardest part and I recommend buying premade dough from the local bakery if possible. This makes prep time less messy and easier on you. Our kids did miss the wood fired oven, but other than that it was just as fun at home and takes up a few hours. It is also a great activity when they have friends over or during a birthday party.
Get the kids involved as much as possible. Shop for the ingredients together, have them help with preparations, get them to measure out the recipes, and set the table at the end. This a fun way to teach independence. My kids now love to make pizzas a few times a week for lunch, so I keep pre-chopped toppings and shredded cheese in the fridge. They need help with the oven, but other than that they can almost manage it all themselves. You can also give them extra time to play with the dough, with clean hands of course. Spread out a few cookie cutters and rolling pins and they can have a little play dough session before pizza making.
Here are a few things you'll need buy to have your own pizza making party.
What you will need:
- baking sheets
- two large baking pans
- rolling pins (you can order kid sized ones for extra fun)
- an oven
- Dough: You can buy dough from your local supermarket or make it yourself. Your nearest pizzeria or bakery will most likely be willing to sell you dough as well.
- Pizza sauce: Blend one can of tomatoes with a generous squeeze of tomato paste. Add oregano, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar to taste. You can make the sauce to your family's preferences. Maybe add a bit of garlic or spring onion for extra flavour or blend in a few leaves of fresh basil or pesto if they prefer. My measurements are never exact but I make sure to add enough tomato paste to ensure the sauce is not watery.
- Cheese: You can go for the traditional mozzarella or do a mixture of different cheeses that your kids love. You can also shred a bit of parmesan to sprinkle at the end. My kids love a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar. Get creative and allow them to choose.
- Toppings: This is the fun part. What are your family's favourite pizza toppings? I like to have at least five options and you can easily cut veggies into fun shapes so they're more excited about the healthy choices. Popular toppings are ham, pepperoni, shredded chicken, pineapple, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, and olives.
Easy Pizza Dough Recipe if you would rather make it yourself:
- Ingredients: 4 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 envelope of instant dry yeast, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1.5 cups of warm water.
- Mix sugar, water, and yeast and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Once the mixture is foamy, add the olive oil, flour, and salt. Stir the mixture.
- The dough will become a sticky ball. Sprinkle more flour if needed.
- Sprinkle flour on a hard surface and transfer the dough.
- Knead until a smooth ball forms.
- Once the dough is smooth and not sticky you can split into small balls for each individual pizza crust.
The hardest part is getting the yeast right, but with a few trials and errors it will become second nature. Make extra in case they want to do the activity again the next day.
Instructions for DIY Personal Size Pizza:
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F
- Lay out a baking sheet for each child and sprinkle a little flour on the sheet.
- Give each child a small ball of dough. Enough to roll out to a 6-inch pizza.
- Hand out the rolling pins and get them to start rolling. Encourage them to play as they would with playdough and let them create their own shapes. This should be a fun and creative activity.
- While they're rolling you can set out the sauce, cheese, and toppings into serving bowls and have a small stack of spoons so they don't mix the up the toppings. I know my daughter is very particular and gets upset when the sauce spoon is used in the cheese bowl.
- Once the dough is rolled out into mini pizza shapes they can spoon on a dallop of sauce and spread evenly over the dough. Make sure to leave a little space for crust.
- Next it's time for the cheese. Let them sprinkle it on to their heart's desire. My son loves to have tons of cheese.
- The last step for the children is the toppings. Encourage them to create faces, use more colours, shape flowers, or something different for each slice. Imagine it similar to an art project. I usually let my kids decorate two each and then make one larger pizza that is simple which I know the adults can enjoy.
- After they are done place the pizzas on a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes. The cheese should be fully melted and crust will look slightly browned. Don't crowd them on the tray. A maximum of two pizzas at once depending on the size of your oven.
- Remove pizza from oven and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Use a pizza cutter to slice them up. Don't forget to admire each creation before cutting and let the kids take a few pics with their pizzas.
- Set the table and enjoy!