There are two kinds of pizza-at-home nights, I reckon. The weekend take-your-time kind, and the fast-and-fun weeknight kind.
They’re all good at different times and the second two – where you’re making the pizza in some way – are also a fab way of getting kids to take control of their own food and maybe even try something new. Let’s talk about the kinds of pizzas you can make (rather than order).
Weekend cooking yeast pizza
Since Covid-19 lockdowns and the Great Yeast Baking Discovery of 2020, lots more families have had a go at full-on pizza bases and that’s a brilliant experience when it works. Taking your time on a weekend, you might also use a home-made pizza sauce like this one and experiment with your own cheese blend or slices of fresh mozzarella or crumbled feta and go to a farmers’ market or deli for some super fresh or unusual toppings.
But … perhaps you’ve also discovered that any cooking involving yeast has a chunk of uncertainty and time attached. There are certainly methods for fast-rising yeast doughs, and if you’re super organised you could make an overnight no-knead yeast dough and have it ready for rolling out the next day.
Honestly though, I’ve done the fast-rise on a school night and even though I’m an experienced bread-witch (my kids hate me saying that: hi kids!) it’s messy and risky in terms of timing.
As far as being super-organised with an overnight dough? Well you already know if you’re that kind of cook. I’m not.
The first pizza I ever ate as a country kid was in Home Ec class and what I’d now call a pantry pizza. It was made on a pita bread base, with a tomato paste ‘sauce’, and grated cheddar cheese.
Weeknight pantry pizza
And hey, that’s still a good, quick option for getting family pizza happening fast – especially because now you can buy a premade pizza style tomato paste, bags of pizza mix cheese, and any number of fresh or frozen pizza style bases.
As usual, I’m never going to judge you for needing to throw things together fast and take advantage of some excellent convenience ingredients. But if you’re trying to avoid processed bread products or just want to add some hands-on joy to a weeknight, read on.
From scratch – two-ingredient pizza
Something like the two-ingredient yoghurt pizza base is the perfect compromise between store-bought pantry style bases and artisan yeast recipes.
When I first began making this two-ingredient dough I used a 50:50 yoghurt and flour ratio recommended by an Australian nutrition site. What I found was that it always needed more flour to get that ‘shaggy’ dough stage into something manageable. Now, wet doughs do tend to have a bit more flavour and a higher rise, but they are also VERY messy and a bit unpredictable.
If you’re making home pizzas on a weeknight or a busy weekend, you don’t want a big clean up and you don’t want surprises.
So rather than making a wet dough that needs a lot of flour added, I’m now advocating a drier dough to which you can add a little more yoghurt or even water or oil if it’s proving too hard to work.
Reliable ratio 2:1
New ratio? Two parts self raising flour to one part Greek yoghurt. This also makes beautiful flatbreads, baked or quickly fried in a dry pan and served with pretty much anything you like.
Kids in the kitchen jobs
This mix literally is child’s play and you can delegate the whole job to anyone with enough dexterity to mush things together in a bowl with a big spoon.
Another kitchen kids’ job would be getting the toppings ready and laying them out on a platter or in little bowls so it’s easy to choose your own.Print
Makes two medium or four small pizza bases (see Notes)
- 1 cup plain Greek yoghurt
- 2 cups self raising flour
- Combine flour and yoghurt in the mixing bowl
- Mix until they are fully combined. It helps to start slowly and keep dragging any dry flour into the wettest part of the bowl until all combined.
- It should now come away from the sides of the bowl fairly easily. If not, add a little more flour. On the other hand, if it’s in dry chunks that won’t stick together, add a little more yoghurt or some water, a tablespoon at a time.
- Tip the ball of dough out of the bowl and stretch and knead it for a few minutes or until the dough feels a bit springy. It’s better to be under-kneaded than over-kneaded so don’t get carried away.
- If it’s sticking to the surface or falling apart, see Step 3 above.
- If you’re busy with other things you can now cover the dough with plastic wrap until you’re ready to roll it out. It won’t rise like a yeast dough so it’s safe to turn your back and supervise homework or chop up pizza toppings.
- When ready, divide the ball into sections and roll each out or spread with your fingers into manageable sizes. Top with sauce, cheese, and two or three pizza toppings and bake in your hottest possible oven for 10-15 minutes or until crispy and golden.
Make a cheesy crust pizza by stretching the edges a little further than you need and adding a line of grated cheese inside the border. Fold edge over and press to seal.
Think ahead about how you’re getting the topped bases from your bench to the oven, because once you’ve added toppings you don’t want to be shifting a floppy base around by hand! You can keep each pizza small enough that it won’t collapse as you transfer it, or you could set up pizza trays on the bench and top them there.
One way to get the whole family eating pizza at the same time is to make a big rectangular pizza or two on oven baking trays. Put sauce and cheese across the lot, and then everyone can still add their own toppings to their allocation of the shared base. This is especially good if your oven doesn’t hold heat well, because you have less opening of the door than with individual pizzas.
Overloaded toppings are the enemy of home-made pizza and just about guaranteed to create a soggy middle and burnt edges. Even commercial pizza ovens struggle with this, so try and encourage children (and others – looking at my husband!) to limit their choice to 2-3 toppings if you can.
Kids will often want to top their pizza with extra cheese, which is only a problem because adding more cheese last creates a seal for the moisture of the sauce and toppings underneath and makes a soggy pizza and a sad kid 🙁