For several years, most of our foods from the bread group were made by me from scratch. This included bread, rolls, biscuits, pancakes and waffles, crackers, tortillas, pie and pizza crusts, and desserts. I tried my hand at pasta making, but that didn't work out so well, so I did buy boxed pasta and rice. I purchased flour in bulk and yeast in bags, not individual packets. My family loved it, but after two years of spending all day in the kitchen every day of the week, I felt like Almanzo Wilder's mother in Farmer Boy...only I was NOT cheerful.
I awoke in the morning knowing I was going to be whipping up some coffee cake or pancakes or biscuits from scratch while gulping down some coffee and listening to hungry little ones whining about how long until breakfast was ready. As soon as the breakfast dishes were washed by hand (no dishwasher in this old house,) it was time to start making the bread dough so it had plenty of time to rise before baking it for dinner. Midday meant making snacks, punching down the bread dough, starting dessert, and washing more dishes. By 4:00 I had to start preparing dinner and baking the bread. After spending all day in the kitchen (with little breaks to wash and hang laundry,) I had nothing to show for it because my family consumed every morsel ten times faster than it took me to prepare it.
I reached a point where I realized that I was not enjoying my life. We had this wonderful farm on the side of a mountain with incredible views. We had a big family full of beautiful, healthy children full of wonder and exuberance, but I was too exhausted at the end of the day to really enjoy them. I felt years beyond my actual age, and I understood the weariness that mothers on the frontier must have experienced to get up each day and perform the same mundane tasks over and over just to feed and clothe their families. It was then that I decided I didn't have to be Ma Ingalls, and I went to the grocery store and bought a loaf of bread---the first loaf of bread not made by me in over two years. I haven't made bread since.
But this week, some part of me missed the smell of yeast and the feel of dough squishing under my knuckles, and I decided to make homemade pizza once again. It isn't nearly as time-consuming as bread making, and none of the pizza shop creations can compare to fresh, homemade pizza as it comes steaming out of the oven. So I share our family's pizza recipe with you today in hopes that you and your little ones enjoy making this together as much as we do.
For the Crust:
1 envelope dry yeast (or 1 Tbsp.)
1 cup warm water
1 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Soften the yeast in warm water in bowl. Add 2 cups flour, salt and oil. Add more flour as needed to make a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl. Cover with a wet towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled. I let it rise for most of the afternoon. Then punch dough down and pat into a greased pizza pan. This recipe makes one large pizza.
For a quick, no-cook sauce, I use a small can of tomato sauce and add salt, pepper, garlic powder, fresh or dry basil, and fresh oregano and spread over the pizza crust. For those of us who like spice, I add red pepper flakes.
Add mozzarella cheese and whatever toppings your family loves. This week our pizzas were topped with ground spicy pork sausage, and one pizza also contained canned sliced mushrooms, and fresh banana peppers. This is the part my younger children love to help with.
Making homemade pizzas used to be a Friday evening tradition for our family. I've taken a sabbatical from my days in the kitchen when I made almost every food from scratch, and I'm beginning to miss a bit of it. This dish is a good one to bring back into our lives without spending all day in our farmhouse kitchen.