Anneka Manning, a food author, mum of two and passionate baker behind BakeClub, joins us each month to share some of her industry tips, tricks and 25 years worth of experience. Today she gives us the scoop on getting the kids in the kitchen and beauty of baking together. She also shares her recipe for Tomato and Pumpkin Pizza which is perfect for little hands!
We see, we smell, we taste, we hear and we touch when we bake – it engages all of our five senses. This unique quality is what I believe makes baking such a powerful medium through which to teach our children life skills – including some that don’t necessarily relate to cooking.
When my children were at preschool I ran regular cooking sessions with their classes. I wanted the kids to have fun but I also wanted to pass on some of my knowledge and love for cooking. Once I started the classes, and continued them through their primary school years, I realized that it wasn’t just the ‘knowledge’ about cooking that the kids were absorbing. There were so many other things they were getting from these sessions as well.
Whisking, stirring, rolling, mashing, icing and cutting helped get the cooking job done while also helping development of fine motor skills. Problem solving and experimentation were big in our sessions – the kids were often given the chance to predict what may happen when a bunch of ingredients came together or when a mixture was heated, for example – so there’s a tick for development of cognitive skills. Being introduced to words such as the names of utensils (spatula and whisk), the state of food (stiff and scrambled) and cooking processes (smashing, squeezing and sizzling) did wonders to extend their vocabulary.
And so these sessions created the opportunity for all the kids to participate — they felt proud of what they had created and loved sharing the rewards with their friends and families. The smiles were always huge and the development of positive self-esteem and self-confidence was guaranteed.
This whole experience showed me that sharing your knowledge with your children and the next generation is so incredibly important. And it’s as much about the experience you are creating for them as what you are teaching them. What they learn through learning to bake will help equip them for life beyond the four walls of a kitchen. It gives them lasting memories, a framework they can apply to other tasks and a way they can communicate with others. What better ways to say welcome/sorry/I like you/cheer up/ happy birthday/can we be friends? than with something that is lovingly homemade!
This pizza recipe is one that I have made time-and-time again with my children (now 11 and 14!). Little (and big) hands love to measure, mix, knead, roll, chop and top……and not to forget how much they then like to EAT!
Tomato and Pumpkin Pizza Recipe
Preparation time: 30 minutes (+ 1 hour proving time)
Baking time: 12-15 minutes
What You Need For The Pizza Dough:
- 450g (3 cups) strong bread or pizza flour, plus extra to dust
- 7g (1 sachet) dried yeast
- 11/2 teaspoons salt
- 310ml (11/4 cups) lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
What You Need for the Pizza Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small brown onion, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 400g tin diced tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon sugar, or to taste
What You Need for the Pizza Topping:
- 250g mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 400g seeded butternut pumpkin, peeled and thinly sliced
- 150g coarsely chopped semi-dried tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 40g baby spinach leaves
What You Do:
1. To make the pizza dough, combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Combine the water and oil, then add to the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon and then your hands to mix to a soft dough.
2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic and springs back when you push your finger into it.
3. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning it to coat lightly with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
4. Meanwhile, to make the pizza sauce, put the olive oil and onion in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add the garlic and oregano and cook for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thickened to a thick sauce consistency. Remove from the heat and season with sugar, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Set aside to cool.
5. Preheat the oven to 230°C. Line 2 large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
6. Knock back the dough by punching it in the centre with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Roll out one portion on the lightly floured surface to a rectangle about 3mm thick. Transfer to one of the lined trays. Repeat with the remaining dough.
7. Spread the pizza bases with the pizza sauce, leaving a small boarder around the edge. Top with the mozzarella slices, pumpkin and tomatoes, dividing evenly. Drizzle with the oil. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, swapping the trays after 8 minutes, until the bases are crisp, golden and cooked through.
8. Remove from the oven, cut into portions and serve topped with the spinach.
- The pizza bases will freeze really well, ready to be used at a moment’s notice, for up to 1 month. Prepare and roll the pizza bases to the end of Step 6. Gently brush the edges with a little water and then bake, without the toppings, in the preheated oven for 16 minutes, swapping the trays after 8 minutes, until golden. Cool on the trays before sealing in large freezer bags or airtight containers, separating with a piece of non-stick baking paper if necessary.To use, preheat the oven to 220°C, place the frozen bases on lightly floured large baking trays, and continue with the recipe from Step 7, baking for 10-12 minutes only.
- You will find ‘strong’ bread or pizza flour in large supermarkets and specialty food stores and is well worth searching out for a more ‘authentic’ pizza base.
Anneka will be running her fabulous Kids in the Kitchen BakeClasses in Sydney during the September/October school holidays on Monday 23 September. You can find out more information and register over here. You can also stay in-touch with all that’s happening at BakeClub by following them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.