Homemade Pizza Buns

So, confession -- if you ask my 6 year old what his favorite food is -- "Bagel Bites" will be his answer. (Followed by "spicy sushi and kale chips, so not entirely terrible), but how embarrassing --I'm the freakin' Fresh Mama and my kid wants Bagel Bites? What the heck?!

He first encountered Bagel Bites at a friend's house 2 years ago and has had a mild obsession with them since. Can't make a trip to the grocery store without him begging for them, and I admit I have succumbed to the pressure a couple times. I even tried one. once. Ok, if you are a fan of cardboard, with bland tomato sauce and flavorless grated cheese then go ahead and buy Bagel Bites. Buutttt, if you want a easy bite-size pizza snack, with homemade ingredients where you control the flavors, then make some Homemade Pizza Buns! If making everything from scratch doesn't work for you, then pick up some pizza dough and premade sauce at the store. No judgement here - do what works for you.

Homemade Pizza Buns
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup warm water

Pizza Sauce:
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup pepperoni or sausage, chopped
olive oil spray

1.Place warm water, yeast, sugar, salt, and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer with hook attachment. Slowly add flour mixture and mix on low speed until well combined. If too dry, add additional warm water one tablespoon at a time until dough forms one big ball. Then increase the speed to medium and stir an additional 5 minutes until dough is well-formed and stretchy.
2. Place dough in large bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Place in warm spot for 30-45 minutes until dough is doubled in size.
3. While dough is rising, heat tomato sauce in small saucepan, with garlic and Italian seasoning. Simmer about 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
4. Once dough has doubled in size, punch down the top, place on counter and knead a few times until it forms a smooth round ball. Allow to rest an additional 10 minutes. ( I used to skip this step, but allowing it to rest will make it nice and stretchy when you are ready to roll it out). Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Sprinkle clean/dry countertop with flour, place your dough ball on the flour and flatten it with your palms, then roll out your dough with a floured rolling pin. Shape it into a rectangle approximately 12x16.
6. Spread 2/3 cup pizza sauce on dough, all the way to the edges.
7. Sprinkle with cheese and pepperoni or sausage. You will be rolling lengthwise, so make sure to put toppings right to the long edge that you will be starting to roll from. Then start rolling until a log is formed.
8. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with olive oil.
9. Use a sharp knife to slice the log into circles, slightly less than a half inch thick. Place circles in baking pan, leaving a 1/2 inch gap between buns. Place in oven and bake 25-30 minutes until browned and cooked through. Allow to cool completely and freeze or store in fridge. These will be going in the lunchboxes or for afterschool/pre-activity snacks. So excited they came out so delicious and the kids love them! Makes about 16-20 buns depending how thick you slice them. (I sliced thin and needed to do 4 in the brownie pan).

TIP: Use a kitchen scale to measure ingredients! Proper portioning is essential for good quality dough, so I always use my scale! I use the "Kitchen Scale" app on my iPhone to convert measurements from volume to weight (cups to ounces or grams).

Below you will find links to my favorite tools for mixing pizza dough. Having the proper tools makes all the difference in the world when it comes to homemade dough. Hands down, my favorite bowl when measuring dry ingredients is the Le Creuset batter bowl -- the perfect shape for pouring into the stand mixer without making a mess. I have been using a French rolling pin for years, and it is so easy to handle. Perfect for newbies learning how to roll out dough! 
My tools for the job:

 And the verdict????? Well, its a good thing I checked on them while cooling, because the kids snuck a couple each and declared them delicious! I popped them in the freezer before they could completely ruin their dinner appetites and these babies will be going in the lunchboxes this week.
If you haven't already, make sure to check out my Fresh Mama Fitness Page where you can find my healthiest recipes, fitness tips, home workouts/challenges, motivation, and inspiration for living a healthy, fit life!
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