If Anna Harrington knows one thing about keeping kids entertained, it’s that the magic often happens in the kitchen. The food stylist, chef, and founder of the savory cookie company The Rounds often invites her little ones to participate in (fun and easy!) culinary challenges. Her 11-year-old son, Casper, has always loved to cook, but now that he’s spending a lot of time inside their New York City apartment, he’s elevated his status to mini sous chef.
Cooking with children can be daunting, what with knives, exact proportions, and hot ovens involved. Harrington’s advice? “Guide the chaos” and prep as much as possible before your kids get involved. “If the kids are going to clean and chop, have cutting boards, tools, and ingredients arranged and organized before they join in,” says Harrington. “Talk through specific jobs or assignments—they can even choose what they want to do and help divvy up the work.”
With a willingness to accept “happy mistakes,” cooking can be the perfect stay-at-home challenge for parents and kids. Lucky for us, chefs Anna and Casper are letting us in on one of their favorite recipes: homemade pizza. Read on for everything you need to know to get started.
Making the Dough
All ingredients can be ordered online. If you do not have the ingredients or time to make your own dough, try looking in the freezer section of your grocery store. Most carry some brand of frozen pizza dough, which can be defrosted in the fridge. Let the dough reach room temperature on the kitchen counter before rolling out.
*Makes 2 to 3 pizzas
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (should feel warm but not hot to the touch)
- 2 tsp granulated sugar, divided
- 1 pack dry active yeast (1/4 ounce)
- 1 tsp table salt
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus ½ cup for kneading and rolling on counter
- 1/3 cup olive oil plus a bit for drizzling at end
- Sprinkle of sea salt at end
In a measuring cup, mix warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar, add yeast, and stir with a fork. Let stand until bubbles form on the surface (about 2 to 3 minutes).
In a large bowl, mix 3½ cups flour, 1 teaspoon table salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon sugar. Make a well in the center, then add yeast mixture and oil. Stir with a fork until smooth.
Once it starts to come together, use your hands to form a ball. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Try to use the base/palm of your hand to get a good kneading action. Place dough in a large, olive oil–greased bowl (you can use the same one as above) and turn once to grease the top.
Cover dough and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours—the dough should roughly double in size and feel nice, warm, and pillowy. You can use it now, place it in the fridge for tomorrow, or divide into 3 balls and place into freezer-safe bags to save for later. If you chill the dough overnight or freeze it for later, allow it to come to room temperature before rolling.
Making the Pizza
Choose whatever toppings you like! You can also make a cheeseless pizza or a white pizza—this part is really up to you. Here are Anna and Casper’s personal favorites.
Pizza Ingredient Recommendations:
- Mozzarella (Try slicing up a ball of mozzarella. Shredded mozzarella works, too!)
- Sweet or Spanish onions
- Black olives
- Fresh tomatoes
- Green, red, or yellow peppers
- Jar or can of artichokes
- Pineapple and boiled ham
- Fresh basil (do not add it to your pizza until the pie has come out of the oven—it will just turn black and lose its fresh flavor if you bake it)
- Prosciutto or arugula (add these after baking)
- Sauce! (It’s fine to use a jar of marinara instead of making your own sauce. Anna and Casper recommend Rao’s.)
Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and prep your toppings in small bowls. Then take a room-temperature ball of dough and place it on a counter sprinkled with flour. Use a rolling pin to get the dough evenly flat (if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can try to spin or stretch it in your hands “pizzeria style”). Any shape your dough ends up in is great; it does not need to be perfectly round or rectangular. It should be about 1/8 to ¼ inches thick.
Place the pizza dough on a lightly oiled and salted cookie sheet. Spoon tomato sauce in the middle and spread it out to the edges. Cover evenly with mozzarella. Place your other toppings however you’d like. Put the sheet in the preheated oven for approximately 5 minutes. Keep an eye on your pizza, as all ovens vary. Make sure the bottom of the pie is a nice golden brown. Once you remove it, let it sit for a minute before cutting so all the cheese doesn’t slide off. Enjoy!