The perfect party host, Katy Hofstede-Smith explains how to plan a stress-free pizza party for little fingers!
“If the idea of a group of excitable children with floury fingers, escaping ingredients and splashing sauce sounds like your idea of hell, I’d advise you to phone around your local Italian restaurants, as many are happy to let little ones loose with the pizza dough. If it sounds like something you can handle, albeit with a large glass of wine, then welcome to what is admittedly likely to be, a slightly manic but hugely enjoyable way to entertain the children and get them interested in cooking and eating new things.
Preparation is key to making this as fun and as ‘controlled’ as possible! Get all of the ingredients out and spread them, so that all of the children can reach them. Lay down plastic sheets where the pizza making will take place and set out clear making stations with a chopping board to work on.
For ease, make the dough either the night before or about 6-8 hours earlier to allow it to rise. Give each child their own piece, some flour to dust their chopping board and show them how to stretch, roll or push the dough out into a rough circle shape.
The best tomato sauce is the simplest, either a spoonful of passata or chopped tomatoes, blitzed until smooth. Spread this on thinly, as too much will just make the pizza soggy. Then it’s time to let them loose with the toppings. Either start with torn pieces of mozzarella or if you’re using the grated stringy type, leave this as the last thing to go on.
Let them free with their creativity, encourage them to taste and try as many of the toppings as possible – they may not like them but it’s a great way to get little ones trying different things, especially if their friends are. I’m always amazed at the combinations my children choose and whilst many, I wouldn’t necessarily eat them together. If they’ve made it themselves they always seem far less fussy.
If you’re trying to juggle a lot of pizzas, children and a messy kitchen, I find it far less stressful to send them all off to play and give yourself time to calmly cook them. You can always keep the pizzas warm in a low oven, giving you time to reclaim the kitchen.
Once cooked, serve the pizzas with mixed salad to ensure you’re offering a balanced meal. Follow it by ‘top your own’ ice-creams and you will send the little ones home thinking you are the best mummy ever. Then sit back and enjoy the warm fuzzy glow with that large glass of wine!”