LIZ WILLIAMS (this article was first published November 17, 2012)
One of my favorite things to make with my kids was pizza. Actually my favorite thing was dough, but then we would turn it into pizza. We had so much fun mixing and kneading the dough. Watching it rise was an easy way to do something fun and it is foolproof. We split the dough up among all of us to knead, the perfect size for little hands. Sometimes we would leave the dough separated for individual pizzas and sometimes we would recombine it for one large pizza. We would even try to throw the dough. But regardless, it was a way to create a successful meal.
My kids loved to choose their own toppings for their pizzas. We would slice mushrooms, use up leftover sausages, add lots of bell peppers (a favorite of my kids), grate cheese (a Mouli grater was safer than a box grater and the kids loved to operate it), olive oil and minced garlic, and sometime use tomato sauce and sometimes thinly sliced fresh tomatoes. Using leftover gazpacho was not unheard of. And my favorite sauce was made with butternut squash. We would create our pizzas, cook them in a very hot oven and then devour them.
- 1 cup water
- 1 package of instant yeast
- 3 and ½ or so cups of bread flour plus extra flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Mix yeast into the cup of water. Add about a tablespoon of the flour to feed the yeast. Make a well in a mound of flour, mix in the salt, and add about half of the water. Mix in the flour from the edges. Then add the rest of the water. Mix the water into the flour mixture. Begin to knead the dough on a floured board. Do not add too much flour. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. (When letting children knead the dough, I usually put olive oil on their hands to reduce the stickiness.
Let the dough rest, covered, while you prepare the sauce.
Butternut Squash Sauce
Take already cooked butternut squash, perhaps leftover from yesterday’s dinner. Mash it with a little olive oil, and chicken broth until it has the thickness of tomato sauce. Season with a few grates of fresh nutmeg, salt and pepper.
Pull the dough into a circle and spread the sauce on it. Add other toppings. Top with lots of grated Italian cheese of your choice.
Bake in a very hot oven, 425 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until done. Brush a bit of olive oil on the edges. Cut into wedges and serve.