Family Sunday often involves making food with the kids, who, like many others, are pretty fussy when it comes to food. One thing I have noticed, is that the more involved they are in the making of the food, the more likely they are to eat least try some of it once it’s ready for eating!
The one thing that always goes down well with everyone is pizza. I’ve made this lots of times now, for adults as well as children and it always gets a good reception, plus by knowing exactly what is in it, you can be reassured that it’s far better than shop bought ones.
To make the dough:
400g strong white flour (bread flour)
200ml warm water
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt (you could use a little less if you’re worried about salt content, but don’t leave it out, there is no salt in the tomato topping, which reduces overall amounts to less than shop-bought pizza)
1 and a 1/4 teaspoons fast-acting dried yeast. This comes in little 7g packets in the supermarket.
3 tablespoons olive oil.
A scattering of semolina for the outside – sprinkle this onto the work surface when you’re rolling/stretching the dough out.
Add all the ingredients together and mix until you have a firm dough. I use my trusty (best Christmas present ever) KitchenAid with the dough hook on, but I have made it by hand in the past. Once it’s all come together, you need to turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about five minutes. Use the heel of your hand to push the dough away, turn it at a right angle, fold over, and turn it away again. You will find that it doesn’t take long to come together in a nice, stretchy ball of dough. The put it into a large bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave for about an hour. Smear some more olive oil on the inside of the clingfilm in case the dough rises enough to stick to it.
After about an hour, the dough will be roughly double it’s original size. Take it out, and give it a quick knead again before breaking into chunks for individual pizzas. This amount of dough makes about 4 pizzas. Be warned, the gluten in the dough means that as soon a you stretch it out, it springs back again, so you have to persevere with stretching it out – I usually just use my hands to flatten and stretch it out, rather than a rolling pin. You could always have a go at being a proper pizza chef and do a bit of twirling in the air!
Once it resembles something like a pizza base, you’re ready to add the topping. For the sauce, we heat through some basic tomato passata, with a little extra tomato puree and a dollop of ketchup or sprinkling of sugar to take the sharpness away. Add a few dried herbs – oregano or an Italian mix and a grating of black pepper. Leave it to cook through, raw tomato puree is horrible! Make sure it’s nice and thick.
Then the fun part can begin – the building of the pizza. We usually chop a variety of vegetables, cheeses, meats into little bowls and then let everyone choose their own toppings (which brings out the inner ‘TV cookery show presenter’ in everyone!) The kids really enjoy this bit, and it’s a lovely way of getting them to try a variety of vegetables, maybe even something new, amazingly. Make sure that all the toppings don’t end up in a little mountain in the middle of the pizza otherwise that will still be cold when the outside is burnt.
The pizza takes about 10-15 minutes in an 180 degree celsius oven, but keep an eye on them whilst cooking, as they may take even less. Then eat it all up!