The Perfect Pizza Party

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Looking for a way to keep your grandkids busy on a rainy day? Why not throw a pizza party?! Pretty much everyone loves pizza, and it’s a perfect meal for getting kids involved in cooking.

• Even the littlest helpers can decorate their own pizzas.

• Young kids can grate cheese, slice mushrooms with a butter knife, knead dough and build their own pizzas.

• Encourage older kids to explore the science of yeast by making their own pizza dough.

• Depending on how much time you have, making pizza can take all afternoon, or be a quick 30-minute meal. So put on some music, prep your ingredients and dance your way to a delicious pizza dinner.

Alternative Pizza Crusts

Pizza doesn’t have to be made on a traditional pizza dough. There are all sorts of alternatives depending on how much time you have to prepare.

Uncooked Pizza Crusts. If you have 20 minutes to bake a pizza but aren’t interested in making your own dough, use store-bought pizza dough instead! Like traditional pizzas, the ingredients don’t need to be cooked or heated in advance as they will have plenty of time to cook in the oven.

Top with all your favourite toppings, then follow the baking instructions on the package.

• Balls of traditional yeasted pizza dough are usually found in the freezer section of the grocery store. Defrost them in the fridge for 24 hours then get ready for your pizza party.

• Pillsbury offers a quick, refrigerated dough that isn’t quite the same as a classic pizza crust, but it’s a LOT tastier than premade frozen pizza.

• Puff pastry results in a crispy golden pizza crust. Just cover it with the toppings and bake according to the instructions on the package.

Bread Pizza Crusts. Looking for a super quick meal? Using bread as a pizza crust means that the pizza will be ready in under 30 minutes. Here are three options for bread pizza crusts:

• Greek-style pita bread and naan bread are both perfect for a quick pizza.

• Little kids enjoy making tiny, individual pizzas out of English muffins. Slice the English muffin in half, then decorate the cut side.

• A baguette sliced in half also makes an amazing pizza crust. I recommend using pasta sauce instead of pizza sauce on a baguette, for a really saucy, Sloppy Joe-inspired pizza.

Here’s how to cook your bread-based pizzas:

1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F.

2. Lay the bread out on a baking sheet and top with your favourite pizza toppings. Since the pizzas are only going to cook for a few minutes, avoid toppings that you wouldn’t enjoy eating raw. Alternatively, sauté any ingredients that you would prefer fully cooked (for example onions and mushrooms).

3. Bake the pizzas until the cheese is brown and bubbling, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Traditional Pizza Dough

Making pizza dough from scratch is the perfect rainy-day activity. It’s fun to watch the yeast bloom and see how it makes the dough rise.

Give your grandkids a small piece of dough so they can play with it and make their own dough creation. Bake their butterflies, turtles and hearts beside the pizzas, just keep an eye on them, as they’ll probably be ready about 5 minutes before the pizzas.

11⁄2 cups water

1 envelope instant dry yeast (21⁄4 tsp)

1 tsp sugar

2 Tbsp olive oil (+ more for coating the dough)

31⁄2 to 4 cups of all-purpose flour

2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp cornmeal

1. Mix the water, yeast, and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Allow the yeast to dissolve and bloom. Then mix in the oil, followed by the flour and salt. The dough will be very sticky. I recommend coating your hands with a little bit of oil then kneading and kneading the dough until it’s smooth and elastic.

3. When you have a nice smooth ball, coat it with a drizzle of oil. Place it back in the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Let it rise for 1 hour.

4. After 1 hour, punch down the dough and divide it into 2 balls, along with a few smaller balls for kids to play with. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes while you get the rest of the pizza ingredients ready.

5. Preheat the oven to 475˚F and prepare the pizza toppings.

6. When the oven is preheated, roll out the pizza dough on a lightly oiled surface. Each dough ball should make a 12-inch pizza crust.

7. Sprinkle two baking sheets with cornmeal and place the pizza crusts on the baking sheets.

8. Decorate the crusts with your favourite toppings.

9. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

Emillie Parrish
Emillie Parrishhttp://emillieparrish.com/
Emillie Parrish loves having adventures with her two busy children. She lives in Victoria and is the author of the fermentation-based blog fermentingforfoodies.com.

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