While I was planning for the lil fella’s first birthday (he turned 1 last month), one thing I was keen on was making everything bite-sized. The age-group of the invited kids ranged between 2 years and 12 years, with three-fourths of the crowd under 8. So I wanted to make snacks that could be served in tiny portions so that it was easier for the lil ones to eat up their goodies and also so nothing got wasted.
While I could think of so many sweet snacks, I could hardly come up with any savoury items. I had planned out stuff to do for each of the 6 days preceding the birthday and had already lined up decorating the cupcakes as well as savoury dish making on D day, so I did not want anything time-consuming activity on hand.
I did not want to work my brain too much knowing that the BM gang of girls would help me out with good suggestions. I shot a mail to the group asking for suggestions with make-aheads or quick dishes and got a variety of ideas, from mini-idli sambhar to samosas and spring rolls to open puffs. While I loved these suggestions, I had lots of reservations with most of them. It was, in fact, with the help of my BM gang that I decided on the birthday cupcakes I posted about yesterday.
For idli-sambhar on large scale (did I mention there were 25 kids on the list plus some 10 grown-ups?), I’d have to depend on my mother-in-law, which I did not really want. Samosa on a large scale would be too effort intensive (but I’m seriously contemplating it for any next party!). I wasn’t too confident about pulling off the spring roll wrappers myself and did not want to buy them either, and while open puffs was too tempting a choice, we do not get ready puff pastry in India and I just wasn’t willing to labour over it with butter, dough folds, rests and repeat folds!
I had been thinking pizza as it is and Vaishali’s suggestion only strengthened it. She also said ready coin-sized pizza base was available in the markets these days, but I couldn’t finds it in the shops I visited in my neighbourhood. I was thinking I’d get large bases and cut them up into small squares post-baking. And then a real crazy idea struck me. I decided I’d prepare the base myself too.
I’d seen a lot of blog posts on homemade pizza from scratch and I have myself made it quite a few times, but with ready base. Also, I was really looking forward to start using the Baking book that I’d got during the BM#25 meet at Ahmedabad. It has got lovely pictures and I almost immediately head to the kitchen to munch on something whenever I flip through the book because it makes me hungry !
So I looked up the recipe for tomato and cheese pizza and it seemed quite easy too. In fact, the procedure and ingredients were almost the same as that for making pav buns (dinner rolls), except that this called for a single rise for the dough post adding in yeast, opposed to the traditional two rises for buns and breads. I nearly doubled the recipe and got two medium sized pizzas and 35 bite-sized ones. The only change I made was that te recipe called for direct baking of the base along with the toppings, while I pre-baked the bases so I could pop the base with cheese and toppings into the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt. The pizzas turned out beautiful and it really gladdened me that many kids came back for a second serve!
This is my 8th entry under the theme Dishes fit to be served during Occasions for the month-long Blogging Marathon hosted by Srivalli. Other posts from me this week:
CHEESE & TOMATO MINI PIZZA
Recipe adapted from ‘baking: 100 everyday recipes’
(makes about 50-60 mini pizzas. I made 35 mini and two 6-inch pizzas)
APF/Maida – 2.5 cups (I used 2.25 APF + 0.25 Whole Wheat)
Active dry yeast – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1/4 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Warm water – 1/4 cup
Water – Just under 1 cup
Mozzarella cheese (sliced) – 100 gm
Tomato (cut into rounds) – 2
Oregano (optional) – a few shakes from the oregano shaker
Add sugar and yeast to warm water and stir till most of the yeast granules dissolve. Close with a lid and set aside for 10 mins for yeast to turn bubbly
Take both flours in a big wide bowl. Add salt and mix well. Add yeast mixture and the rest of the water and knead for 10-15 minutes to get a smooth dough. Pour oil over it, cover with a lid and set aside in a warm place for an hour or so till dough doubles in size
Once dough doubles, knead again to incorporate all the oil into the dough (See note 1) . Pinch out balls and roll out into discs about 1/4 inch thick (See note 2). Prick all over with a fork
Option 1: Arrange cheese slices and tomato (see note 3) on the rolled out bases and sprinkle the oregano on top (if using). Bake in a preheated oven @ 200 deg C for 15-20 minutes or till bottom turns crisp
Option 2: Bake the bases in a preheated oven @200 deg C for 10-12 minutes. Let cool and keep in an airtight container. When ready to eat pizza, arrange cheese slices and tomato on the baked base and sprinkle the oregano on top (if using). Bake in a preheated oven @ 200 deg C for 2-5 mins till cheese melts (see note 2)
1. I divided the dough into three portions. I rolled out the first one to the thickness specified and cut them into cute heart shapes with a cookie cutter. I then proceeded the recipe with option 2. I got nice puffed up bases like the commercially available ready-to-use ones in India.
2. I refrigerated the remaining dough at this stage and took them out of the fridge an hour before we needed to bake the pizzas. These two bases were rolled out into oblong egg-like shapes (couldn’t manage to do any better!). These were thinner than the first one, almost like that for an Indian chapatti/roti. They were more crisp and closer to ones we once had at an Italian restaurant 😉
3. I wasn’t too sure if the kids would eat tomato slices, so I used a homemade Tomato chutney mixed with store-bough tomato sauce instead!