Cooking class for kids: making pizzas
One of the treats in our house used to be Friday night Pizza Night. (That was before it became Friday night Pancake Night after my recent success with wholemeal and spelt pancakes.)
But recently the kids have started asking for pizza again.
Confession time here: I’ve only made pizzas from scratch with my children once. They really enjoyed it but frankly, all that faffing around with the yeast and kneading was always just a step too far after the school run. Especially when you’re dealing with laundry mountains and tiredness and squabbles.
But making pizzas from scratch has long been on my list of things I want to do. After all, a home-made pizza is clearly a lot healthier than a shop-bought version – you can control exactly how much salt goes in, the type of flour you use and the quantity of veg on the top. And there are zero additives too.
So when my older two (aged seven and five) were offered the chance to trial a kids’ pizza-making class in – my stars! – a real Italian restaurant, it seemed as though all their Christmases, and mine, had come at once.
The class was held in Tozi, an Italian restaurant a minute’s walk from Victoria station in London. It showcased their brand new school holiday cooking classes for kids aged five and up, focusing on making either pizza, pasta, biscotti or ice cream.
First, the kids watched a demonstration of how to make pizza dough from scratch. Then they got to knead their own ball of dough in a here’s-one-I-made-earlier kind of way. (I had wondered how they were going to get around the issue of rising yeast in a 1.5 hour class.)
As well as kneading, they were shown how to press their fingertips into the edges to help the dough expand.
Then head chef Maurilio popped them into the oven.
They were ready in a couple of minutes, and looked and tasted marvellous.
We had lots of fun in the class. The kids learned which ingredients make pizza dough and how you can add interest and flavour with different veggie toppings, like artichoke and aubergine. Plus they picked up useful new skills, like kneading.
And I learned something too: that pizza-making with kids isn’t as hard as I think it will be. I just need to try it at the weekend instead, when we have enough time to let the dough rise while we play.
Now then, where’s that yeast?
Recipe for proper Italian pizza
(Thanks to Tozi’s head chef Maurilio)
For the dough:
500ml of cold water
1kg of flour
5g of fresh yeast
100ml of extra virgin olive oil
30g of salt
For the tomato sauce
A tin of chopped tomatoes
A handful of fresh basil
A pinch of salt
Extra virgin olive oil
For the toppings:
Mozzarella, ham, artichoke, olives, plus any other ingredients that take your fancy
Dissolve the yeast in the water. Tip the flour into a metal bowl and slowly add in the yeast-dissolved water, stirring continuously. Add the oil and the salt to the mixture and keep kneading until the dough is nice and smooth. Put the dough in a clean bowl and let it rest for one hour covered with cling film.
Divide the dough into balls of 200g each, arrange them on a tray and cover them with cling film. Let them rest again for three hours, until they have doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Pour a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil into a large frying pan, and add the basil and tomatoes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mush and squash the tomatoes as much as you can and season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Once it comes to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes to concentrate the flavours. It will be ready when it’s the perfect consistency for spreading on your pizza.
Knead and stretch out the dough on the work surface, and shape into pizzas. Spread the tomato sauce on top. Add your toppings and put the pizza in the oven for three minutes at 220 ˚C.
Disclaimer: I was offered free pizza-making classes for review purposes. All views are my own.