We love pizza. We don’t always love the same kinds of pizza (I prefer “interesting” toppings, while Mr. Chumsley is happiest with plain ol’ cheese or pepperoni), but we both love pizza. We claimed “new parent prerogative” and indulged in delivery fairly often when Miles was little, but once he started on solids, we kept away from it. For starters, he had no teeth, so how could he eat it? (As I’ve mentioned before, right from the start he’s been eating whatever we were eating). And of course, we didn’t want to feed him crap.
I’ve flirted with making my own pizza in years past, and while the results have been delicious, the process hasn’t always been smooth. I’m not a fan of store-bought crusts, so I like to make my own. For a while I was fixated on the idea of using a pizza stone, but the process of transferring the floppy uncooked pizza to the stone often ended in frustration as the toppings slid off and then glued the pizza to the stone as it cooked. Then I tried cooking pizza on the barbeque, and while it’s tasty and keeps the house cool, that method also has its share of anxiety-producing moments. I needed to find a solution. Enter the mini-pizza.
With one friend recently returned to Vancouver and another on her way out, it was time for a party. Specifically, a potluck, held 2 blocks from our house and starting at an extremely kid-friendly time. There was no way that we weren’t going, and I decided to make good on our recent cravings and make little snack (or potluck) sized pizzas.
I tweaked my usual pizza dough recipe a bit, and made pizzas about 3 inches across, figuring that that size would be fairly substantial while still being easy to handle. I nixed the pizza stone and barbeque in favour of greased and cornmeal-covered baking sheets. The first round was delicious, but the topping to pizza ratio was a little off, so I tried again a few nights later. With this new method, I don’t think we’ll be calling out for pizza any time soon!
This is the recipe I’ve been using for years (adapted from Best Summer Weekends), but I only just discovered that it can be made in a food processor, which makes it so quick and easy! I can’t find the dough blade for my food processor, so I just used the regular one and it was fine.
- 2 ½ cups flour (I prefer a mix of ½ white and ½ whole wheat)
- 1 package instant dry yeast
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 cup warm (125oF/50oC) water
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- A few teaspoons of cornmeal
Place dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the oil and then the water through the feed tube with the motor running. The dough should quickly form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, add more flour a little at a time until a ball forms. Process for 30 seconds after the ball forms. Remove the dough from the food processor onto a lightly floured counter. Knead briefly, and then leave covered with a damp tea towel.
(If you don’t have a food processor, do the same thing, only in a large bowl. After you add the liquids, stir as much as you can, and then turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead for 5-8 minutes, or until the dough is soft but not sticky.)
This is where this recipe’s flexibility is amazing. You can leave the dough to rest for anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours! So if you need dinner on the table quickly, you’re in luck! Or if you want to go for a run and then pick your kid up at daycare, that’s fine too! The longer it rests, the easier it is to work with, which makes the option of going for a run pretty attractive.
Grease two baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal. Preheat oven to 400oF.
Pinch off an egg-sized piece of dough and pull and stretch it into a roughly circular shape and place on a prepared baking sheet. If, like me, you are doing this while holding a toddler, you may find it is not particularly circular, but fear not, it will taste just as good! Repeat with the remaining dough. I found that I got about 14 mini pizzas that were each about 3-4 inches in diameter. With that yield, the pizzas are not too thin, and not too crusty. You can adjust the thickness to suit your preferences, and of course you don’t need to make mini pizzas at all. This amount of dough can be used to make one thick crust or two thin crust pizzas.
Once pizza shells are all on the prepared baking sheets, spread with sauce, toppings and cheese of your choice, and bake for 12-15 min, or until cheese is melted and the edges of the crusts are slightly browned. Let cool briefly, and enjoy!
Here are some topping combinations we enjoy. I’d love to hear what your favourite toppings are!
- Pesto sauce with grilled chicken, sundried tomatoes, and mozzarella
- Tomato sauce with salami, sautéed mushrooms, and a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese
- Pesto sauce with mixed grilled veggies (like zucchini, eggplant, onion, and bell peppers), olives, and mozzarella