Cabin fever is hitting homes harder this season than most! When it comes to keeping kids occupied in the kitchen in an activity that requires measuring, stirring, kneading and teamwork, homemade pizza dough couldn’t be more perfect.

When I first started baking yeast raised dough, I focused primarily on tender enriched yeast rolls and pastries. It is common to find ways to add flavor into those types of recipes. With homemade pizza dough, most of the recipes I found didn’t incorporate any other flavors into the recipe besides the common ingredients. So you’ll see this recipe has plenty of flavor boosting ingredients added!

When rolling out individual crusts, the shared experience is dough that wants to snap back to the original shape after it is rolled out into a crust shape. To address this situation, simply give dough a 5 minute rest. This allows the gluten in the dough to relax and allow for easier shaping and rolling out to the desired thickness and shape.

Don’t fall victim in adding too many toppings to your homemade pizza. Toppings that have high water content like marinara sauce or vegetables that haven’t been sautéed first can be the nemesis of great homemade pizza. Try a layer of pesto or garlic flavored olive oil for the base layer of the toppings. The oil won’t make the crust watery and gooey, plus the flavor of pesto is out of this world! If marinara is a must-have, consider dipping the baked pizza pieces into warmed marinara instead. Give veggies a quick flip in a hot pan with a pat of butter to caramelize and boost flavor in addition reducing water content that can make your pizza wet and wonky.

This recipe can also be used to make breadsticks for dipping in soups and stews or to serve alongside spaghetti and meatballs. Roll out thick ropes of dough and dip in butter, then roll in parmesan cheese. Let rise until double. Bake at 425F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons of melted butter mixed with 1 teaspoon of garlic salt.

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Homemade Pizza Dough

(Enough for 4-6 generous individual pizzas) *number dependent on the thickness of each crust

1 1/2 cups warm tap water (The temperature should be 115 F or less. Think warm bath water.)

1 packet or 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

Proof yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water along with sugar. When yeast is foamy, add remaining water, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, olive oil, salt and flour. Mix until a shaggy dough mass forms. Turn out onto a floured or oiled countertop and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth. Place into an oiled bowl or zip top bag to rise for 45 minutes to an hour. Punch down. Refrigerate until use or divide dough into 4 pieces if using right away. Let dough relax 5 minutes. Shape into crusts. Dock crusts many times with a fork to prevent bubbling. Par bake crusts at 450 F for 4-6 minutes (depending on thickness) until slightly golden, then add toppings and finish baking for 5-8 minutes until cheese is golden. Serve warm.

Check out more recipes from Cristen Clark:

Cristen Clark lives on an Iowa farm where her family raises corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. She loves cooking and writing, and sharing contest winning recipes with people she knows. She can be reached at cristen@foodandswine.com or at foodandswine.com.