My daughter recently turned eight years old and this year she wanted to have a birthday sleepover party with a few of her girlfriends from school. At their age, there’s a mix of “MOM! Leave us alone {giggle}!” and “MOM! We’re bored,” so I tried to have a few things on hand to keep them occupied during their stay.

Probably the biggest hit among the bunch (and with my four year old who tried desperately to crash their party) was the homemade personal pizza station I set up for them to work on just after their 6:00 PM arrival. I had never made my own pizza dough before, but felt like it would be an easy and inexpensive way to feed the small army of girls, along with my son and husband.

Homemade Personal Pizzas - (cool) progeny
I scoured Pinterest for different dough recipes, and for the most part I found that basic pizza dough ingredients don’t vary much from one recipe to another. Armed with my list of ingredients, I set to work crafting my perfect crust.

The end result was a thin, but not crispy, crust that had a little crunch from the super-hot oven, but also a soft chew. The girls each chose different ingredients – plain cheese, some with pepperoni, others with sausage and mushrooms – but everyone gobbled up their pie with happy, content smiles.

Homemade Personal Pizzas - (cool) progeny
Homemade personal pizzas were the perfect way to get the girls in the kitchen and also kill some time to keep the boredom at bay. We’ll definitely be making these again – soon!

Homemade Personal Pizzas

Prep: 2 hours | Bake: 7 minutes | Yields: 4 mini pizzas

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/3 cup warm water (about 140°F)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Cornmeal

For the toppings:

  • 1 jar pizza sauce
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup mini pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup crumbled sausage
  • 1/2 cup diced green onions
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

Directions

At least 2 hours before you’re ready to eat:

Preheat your oven to 250°F.

In a mixing bowl, gently stir the yeast into the warm water and let it sit for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt together in a separate bowl. After the 8 minutes is up, add the flour mixture to the water, and then mix it on medium-high speed with a Kitchen Aid (or similar) mixer. Drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil, mix for 10 seconds longer, and then turn the dough out onto a floured countertop.

Homemade Personal Pizzas - (cool) progeny
Continue kneading the dough by hand for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth, soft and elastic. Coat it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Homemade Personal Pizzas - (cool) progeny
Turn the oven off. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl, cover the top of the bowl with a towel, and then set it in the oven to rise for 1.5 hours. It should be nearly double in size once the time’s up.

To make the pizzas:

Place a pizza stone in the oven, and then set it to preheat to 550°F. You MUST start the stone in a cool oven so that the stone preheats as the oven does, otherwise putting the cold stone in a hot oven can cause it to crack, which would be unfortunate – and unsafe.

Homemade Personal Pizzas - (cool) progeny
Split your pizza dough into 4 equal sections.* Dust the countertop with cornmeal, and then roll out the dough with a rolling pin, flipping the dough over and rotating it 90° every so often. You’re done when it’s about 10-inches wide and fairly thin. There will be a light dusting of cornmeal on both sides – this is a good thing.

Homemade Personal Pizzas - (cool) progeny
Add a generous amount of cornmeal to a pizza peel – about 1/4 cup. Place the rolled out pizza dough on top of the cornmeal, and then top it with sauce (leave about 1/4-inch from the edge unsauced), cheese and whatever veggies or meats you like.

With a quick jerk, slide the dough onto the preheated pizza stone in the oven. The cornmeal on the pizza peel will help it slip right off without any hesitation or sticking. Bake it for 7 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Use your pizza peel to remove it from the oven.

Homemade Personal Pizzas - (cool) progeny
Repeat the steps for the three remaining rounds of dough.

*If you’re not ready to make the pizzas, you can place the dough into a zip top plastic bag and set the dough in the refrigerator until you’re ready – it can last up to 24 hours. It will continue rising, but that won’t affect its taste or texture! Or, place the dough in a freezer safe zip top plastic bag and freeze it for up to 3 months.

Photo Credit: Liza Hawkins