Last week, we were on a pizza kick. To be honest, I usually feel lazy about once a week and throw a pizza or two in the oven for dinner. Last week though, I tried making pizza dough with our bread machine, and I was not disappointed. We ended up making two pizza last week and another one last night, and I wanted to share the results with you.
I discovered homemade pizzas are easy and enjoyable to make, and you can really mix and match ingredients you have on hand to create some delicious results. It’s also nice when you’re trying to use a little bit of leftover sausage, spinach, peppers, etc. This is exactly what I was trying to do, as we ended up with an abundance of barbecue chicken and hot Italian sausage this week.
I loved making the dough – it was quick prep work with simple ingredients, and it only took ninety minutes in the bread machine. It was something I could prepare and run while Mon Cœur (MC) was napping, then we could top and cook anytime after nap and before dinner time.
I had so much fun making the first two pizzas with MC, I knew it would be a fun family dinner to prepare together, so yesterday while Chouchou was off, we made personal pizzas. It gave me another opportunity to clean the fridge, this time with leftover veggies!
Dough recipe (from Hamilton Beach Bread Machine book)
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 cups bread flour
- 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
I added each ingredient to the machine in order, from top to bottom, then started the dough cycle and 90 minutes later, it was ready. At the end of the dough cycle, I took the dough out and put it on a floured counter top and let it rest 10 minutes.
The recipe makes one 16-inch pizza, and the directions say to bake at 475 for 20-25 minutes. At this temperature, in my gas oven, it took about 10 minutes to cook (I’ll discuss the three different ways I baked the pizzas later in the post).
The easiest way I found to shape the dough was to take a sort of circular shape, and holding it vertically, let the dough hang and stretch as I turn it like a wheel. I don’t spend a lot of time shaping the dough perfectly.
My husband on the other hand, will be forever more be our pizza crust guru. I don’t know how he did it, but with only a third of the dough, he made a perfectly round, thin crust pizza, about 12-14 inches in diameter.
This momma doesn’t have the time or patience for that. If I’m making it, you get organically shaped, thick here, thin there pizza crust. That’s why I’ve now delegated this task to my husband. He was super concentrated and his pizza turned out perfect.
Round one: Pizza with sausage, red peppers, onion, and provolone
The first pizza I made to use the rest of some crumbled sausage, half of a red pepper, a lonely onion, and some provolone we had.
Prep work was a breeze – everything was ready except for the red pepper and onion. I sliced those up and put them in the skillet for about 5-7 minutes to soften.
Next I placed each ingredient in a bowl with a spoon and placed the crust with a thin layer of red sauce on the kitchen table. MC jumped in and began topping the crust, deciding what topping to put first, next, and last, and sampling all along the way.
As I mentioned, we baked it in a 475 degree gas oven and after only 10 minutes, our smoke alarm went off. There was no smoke – inevitably whenever I bake a pizza in the oven, the alarm goes off. I’ve decided that 475 is too high, especially in our gas oven, to bake a pizza, and the crust came out crunchier (but not burnt!) than I would like.
Round two: BBQ chicken pizza
We had enjoyed the first pizza so much and we literally had five extra pounds of barbecued chicken quarters, so I shredded a couple of the quarters in anticipation of making this pizza.
All I had to do was slice and cook an onion, and I decided to prepare a special pizza sauce with a blend of red sauce (ratio 1:3) and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce (ratio 2:3).
Again, I placed the ingredients in front of a sauced-up crust and gave MC tongs to practice using with the chicken. She topped the pizza and I decided to try this one on the grill.
We have a Green Egg, and I’ve always wanted to try baking on it. Since the chicken was grilled on the Egg, I thought it would be nice to bake the pizza on it too. It also kept me from heating the house up or setting off smoke alarms – smile!
Let’s just call it “operator error”- we can’t seem to get our Egg to get up to higher temps, so we cook at lower temps for a longer time. I got it up to right under 300 before adding the pizza, and after getting the pizza settled in the grill, the temp hovered around 265 degrees. I baked it on there for a little over 30 minutes, and the crust came out perfect. A soft, chewy crust, with just a little bit of crunch, and bubbly cheddar cheese.
Round three: Personal veggie pizzas
Yesterday afternoon, I prepared another batch of dough with MC’s help. She loves to dump the ingredients in and she’s become a lot more accurate in getting the ingredients in the bread basket. We practiced counting to eight as she pushed the cycle button until we reached the dough cycle, then she pressed start.
Just an hour and a half later, I was taking the dough out to rest and chopping up veggies. This time we had some garden asparagus, red and green peppers, onion, and black olives on hand.
I placed all the veggies with some provolone on a tray, and while MC was waiting for me to divide the dough, she was sampling everything on the platter.
I’m really quite lucky to have a toddler who gobbles up fresh veggies, but since we only had a little bit to work with, I told her, “No more peppers!” She countered, “Okay, maybe I try the asparagus?” Since the last time she tried asparagus, she didn’t like it, I was thrilled (but contained my enthusiasm) and said, “Yes, try some asparagus.”
When I had the crusts ready to go, she proceeded to dump a bunch of olives and then a bunch of the asparagus onto her pizza and I wondered out loud, “Do you want to eat all of that asparagus?” But she did. She ate two whole slices of her pizza, veggies and all.
Pizza making, I’ve discovered, is an opportunity for a moment-of-zen for Chouchou. I was wowed by his level of concentration and how he assembled his pizza. He got all fancy adding parmesan and spices to his pizza, and I enjoyed watching him work. This was a great ending to a family day, making pizzas together.
Oven or Egg?
With summer right around the corner, and the hotter temperatures last week, I really liked that the Egg kept us from heating up the house.
I preferred the crust from the Egg, and in the heat of the summer months, the Egg will be our go-to to bake our pizzas.
Last night the pizzas from the oven came out pretty perfect and sans smoke alarm symphony. So a low oven temp on rainy, cold days will be the perfect back up to the Egg.
Teamwork with Mon Cœur
I really enjoyed making the pizzas with MC – she loved it, too. It gave her an opportunity to really be hands-on in the kitchen, and I was able to be “hands-off” letting her be a little more independent. This is really the first recipe where I wasn’t really hovering. I sat across the table while she made the pizzas.
She choose the order of toppings, and where and how much to put on. We discussed the different ingredients she was using- what they were and what we wanted to put on the pizza next.
She had an opportunity to practice using tongs, forks, and spoons for the various toppings, working those fine motor skills.
MC practiced counting and put those finger muscles to work helping me bake the bread and is mastering how to take measured ingredients and add them to a larger bowl.
This is such a great, easy meal to make that can bring together the whole family and requires little prep, with easy clean up. Win. Win. Win.
Do you have a go-to recipe that involves your toddler? Advice on how to cook on a Green Egg? Favorite pizza topping blends? Chime in in the comments section!