I plan to mostly focus on classic children’s books and stories on this blog, but I couldn’t resist doing a post on one of our favorite, newer board books, Dig In! by April Jones Prince. While the team of construction mice in this book appear to be building a structure with their front loaders and cement mixers, on the last page you see that they have actually been assembling a pizza. There are so many things to love about Dig In! It starts out as a book about construction vehicles, but ends up with a big pizza party. Every page features a different tab to pull or wheel to turn that allows young children to be part of the story. Also, unlike many board books, it is sturdy enough to withstand hundreds of readings by eager little hands. I love the theme of working together to create something, and the surprise ending is so fun.
On a recent Friday pizza night, we read this book and then I let the kids play with some small construction vehicles and pizza dough (after washing the construction trucks thoroughly!). My pizza dough recipe of choice is based on a no-knead, no-rise recipe from How Sweet Eats. This dough is perfect for weeknight dinners because it doesn’t need time to rise and the crust still bakes up crunchy, chewy and perfect. I doubled the original recipe for our family of four, added some olive oil and changed the baking method a bit. We like to divide the dough into 6 to 8 small portions so each person can top their own mini pizza. Also, we don’t need to cut the pizzas into slices that way – no pizza cutter needed.
Mini No-Knead Pizzas
Makes 6 to 8 mini pizzas, enough for 4 people
Time: 40 minutes
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus more for greasing pans
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping crust
Toppings: sauce, pepperoni, cheese, olives, mushrooms, etc.
- Preheat oven to 450ºF and generously oil two sheet pans with olive oil. Pour the warm water into a large mixing bowl. Add the honey and yeast and stir to dissolve the yeast. Allow to sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the Tablespoon of olive oil and salt, then add 2 cups of the flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring between each addition to incorporate. You may not need the last 1/2 cup of flour, but slowly add it as needed to make the dough smooth, but not too sticky.
- Once the dough is smooth, elastic and not overly sticky, remove it from the mixing bowl and divide into 6 to 8 equal pieces, depending on how big you want the pizzas to be, and how many people you are feeding. Roll out each piece of dough into a 4 to 6 inch circle. You can fold over the edges of the rounds to form a crust, but it’s not necessary.
- Place the rounds of dough on the prepared baking sheets and top as desired. Bake in preheated oven for 18 – 25 minutes or until crust is browned and crispy. Remove the pizzas from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes before removing with a metal spatula and serving.