Sunday, March 13, 2011

Childhood Favourite: Mini-Pizzas

My favourite thing at birthday parties when I was younger, other than birthday cake of course, were mini-pizzas. Oh and of course there was that bowl of cheese curls, mini-samosas, and the little cups of Coca Cola that you could grab, drink in one gulp, and head back to playing with your friends. See, that was the beauty of all those birthday parties, all the food was bite size and I've always loved food but I've also always loved to play and having those bite-size treats just meant that in under five minutes it was very possible I could complete my meal and head back to that game of musical chairs.

I've been feeling quite nostalgic, you know...craving those mini-pizzas so alas, instead of buying the Herb Pizza Dough from Trader Joe's, I finally tried making my own. And you know what? It turned out really well! It wasn't as time consuming as I thought it would be AND it was really tasty. I also like my dough thick and bready so I doubled the recipe (as shown below). If you prefer a thinner crust, go ahead and halve the recipe.

Pizza Dough
courtesy of Smitten Kitchen
makes one large pie
for mini pizzas, it depends on how small you choose to make them (I got about 20 mini pizzas out of my dough)

3 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
2 tablespoon olive oil

Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.

If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks I picked up from my bread-making class is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.

Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray perfectly does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.

Dump it back on the floured counter (yup, I leave mine messy), and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like.

For a regular size pie, bake it for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees until it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist.

For the mini-pizzas, bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. I try to use the most basic ingredients so they aren't too heavy and/or weight the pizza dough down. I used pizza sauce, sprinkled some dried oregano and red pepper flakes, and smothered the top with cheese.

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