“Bread is risen with farts! All this time you’ve been eating yeast farts!” said Cullen with enthusiasm, producing giggles throughout the group.

VFFC Chef Sarah Cullen was explaining the process for making pizza dough from scratch. Unlike the quick bread the kids made last week, pizza dough needs yeast so it will rise and bake properly. Yeast are little bacteria that eat the sugars in the flour and release gas as they metabolize it, causing air bubbles to form.

After pouring the yeast in with the flour and water, everyone leaned into the bowl to get a whiff of the yeast at work.

“It actually does smell like farts!” Alex said jokingly.

Dwyer, Alex and Jamaal are having a blast digging into the dough.
Dwyer, Alex and Jamaal are having a blast digging into the dough.

Now came the fun part: kneading the dough. The little chefs dug their hands in without hesitation to mix together the ingredients and fold them into dough. It was super sticky, so everyone’s hands were plastered with the mixture as they continued to try to knead it.

“It’s like glue!” said Dwyer as he tried to pry it off his hands. Cullen shared that you can actually make glue with the some of the same ingredients: flour and water.

The girls seemed a little grossed out while the boys played with it happily, finding endless amusement high fiving each other so their hands would stick together. They all had a little trouble getting it all off when they needed to move on to the step of the recipe. Needless to say it was a very messy, but very fun, food to make.

They then set the dough aside to rise and, in the meantime, cut up the vegetables and toppings.  Their knife skills have greatly improved since the first class, so they sliced and diced like pros. They diced onions, tomatoes, garlic and basil and put them in a pot to cook down into the sauce. They also sliced up various other types of tomatoes that are in season now like green, yellow and other red ones as well as peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli and two different types of eggplant to top off their pizzas.

“I’ve never seen other kinds of tomatoes before,” Jamaal said. “I guess I’ve been missing out on all the varieties!” There were lots of new things for them to try on their pizzas.

The chefs top their personal-sized pizzas with whichever toppings they want.

Finally, the dough was ready to be rolled out and covered with all the toppings. Before it could be divided up and patted out, they each got a chance to punch the dough to get out any of the extra air bubbles that had formed. One can imagine how much they enjoyed that! Then they each got a piece to pat down, roll out and top. They used the fresh sauce, added fresh mozzarella cut up from a ball, and finished off with all the wonderful vegetables. It was a little bit of a fight to get them to put some of the more foreign vegetables on top, but in the end they decided to give them a shot. Some of them ended up being pulled off later anyway, but most of the kids at least tried them first.

The pizzas went in the oven to bake and a big clean up of the mess ensued. When the pizzas were all ready, as a special last-day treat, everyone took their pizzas outside onto the terrace to eat in the beautiful sunny weather.

Pizza definitely seemed to be the fan favorite among the kids. With kid friendly foods like pizza, it is really easy to get them to eat what they need while still giving them what they want. By making the pizza from scratch, it cuts down on a lot of unnecessary calories and junk that is found it frozen pizzas or those from a pizza place. Also, by presenting a familiar food to the child, they often are more willing to put something unfamiliar on it to try it out. This class did a great job with that overall, and the kids all admitted that they had tried something completely new to them throughout the course of the four weeks. They seemed very excited to go home and continue to experiment in the kitchen.

Cullen and the little chefs proudly show off their final creations.
Cullen and the little chefs proudly show off their final creations.

Now it’s on to a new group of SummerThyme Cooks next week!

-Julia Motis

Recipe Links

Pizza dough