It is probably not a secret that I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. And ever since they were little, both my kids have hung around with me in the kitchen. Initially banging pots and pans then slowly setting up their own kitchenette by me on the floor and then eventually stirring and chopping and cleaning for me. Both of them love it there and so cooking as a family is one of our favorite things to do. The butterfly, as she is growing older is learning to cook dishes by herself although the little monkey is still too little to follow instructions very well. So when cooking with both of them it sometimes get tricky and needless to say, messy!
After a lot of such “tricky-messy” experiences I now have a few recipes that I know is both fun and fulfilling for the kiddos. Homemade Pizza from scratch is one such dish. Its fun for the kids to make with all the flouring, pulling and rolling involved at the same its pizza, and which kid doesn’t like a pizza?!
So last weekend we had one of our “pizza making parties” and this time it was mostly the little ones who did all the hard work. Well, to be totally fair, it was the butterfly who took the lead but the little monkey was there 100% with all her solicited AND unsolicited help! It was a good opportunity to also test out this great avocado oil Calpure sent my way, to give it a try. I liked the oil. It was slightly thicker than the extra virgin olive oil I use and also darker in color but I like the consistency and smell. Apart from the other benefits of avocado, this oil has a high smoke point so I figured it should be great for a recipe like pizza.
Alright back to the pizza. Although this particular recipe uses whole wheat flour and all purpose flour in 1:1 ratio, you can also use just whole wheat flour. After trying both or rather also one with just all purpose flour, I felt finding the mid ground between the two flours creates the best pizza crust for me.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water (approx. 110-115 deg. F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil (plus 1 teaspoon for oiling the bowl) (I used Calpure Avocado oil)
1 teaspoon salt
In a cylindrical jar or mug mix together sugar and water. Stir in yeast until the water turns milky and the yeast dissolves. Cover for 5-10 minutes.
The process is called proofing and froth will form on top. (If yeast doesn’t dissolve and no froth is formed that means your yeast it dead. Start again with active yeast.)
In a large mixing bowl mix together flour, salt and olive oil. Add the yeast mixture and with the pedal attachment of your stand mixer or using your hand, knead until the dough comes together. Sprinkle more water if you think the dough is hard. Knead for 8-10 minutes until you get a soft and smooth dough and it separates from the walls of the mixing bowl. We want to knead the dough for a good 8-10 minutes because this kneading will develop gluten in your flour which means more strength and elasticity of the dough.
Oil a large bowl at least thrice the size of dough. Shape the dough into a big ball and drop in the oiled bowl and then turn it to make sure all sides of the dough are oiled. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, dark place (I prefer my oven in turned off position), for 1 1/2- 2 hours.
Once the dough doubles in size, uncover and gently fold 2-3 times. Do not punch it down to deflate. Punching the pizza dough too much will deflate the air pockets and that means the crust wouldn’t be very light.
Dust the work station and divide the dough into four parts. Lightly knead the dough again to form smaller balls. Dust a baking sheet. Transfer the dough balls and let it sit again for 45 minutes for a second rise OR at this point you can also wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for future use.After the second rise, transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll it down to 12- 15 inch flat circle. Be very gentle with the dough and use your fingertips and hands to stretch the dough into a disk.
Transfer to a pizza pan lined with cornmeal. Add toppings of your choice. and cook it in an oven preheated to 475 deg. F for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust is brown.
Some fun pizza recipes for you: