Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Freezing pizza dough


I'm posting this, not because I think it's earth-shatteringly novel. But because up until 5 years ago, I thought making homemade pizza meant starting from scratch each and every time. Figuring out that I could freeze pizza dough got me over the hurdle of "I have to make dinner, again, all from scratch". Just the thought of time-consuming dinner preparations can be overwhelming, at times for me. That's one reason why I usually get a start on dinner prep in the morning, or around lunchtime.

When I make pizza dough, I do a quadruple batch, enough for 4 large pizzas. I mix the ingredients, knead thoroughly, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. I divide the dough into 4 portions. One portion I press out into a large round, on a greased baking sheet for that night's dinner.

The other 3 portions are for freezing. I form each into a ball. I pour about a tablespoon of vegetable oil into the mixing bowl, then turn each ball of dough in the oil, to coat, before placing in individual freezer bags. The oil keeps the dough from sticking to the inside of the freezer bag while its thawing. This frozen dough keeps for at least 6 months (the longest I've ever had a ball of dough in the freezer before using).

To use the frozen pizza dough, I remove a bag of dough from the freezer in the morning, unzip the seal, and allow to thaw on the counter. (I'll also pull a container of pizza/pasta sauce out of the freezer to thaw at this time, too.) By the end of the day, the dough is perfectly thawed. All I need to do is grease a baking sheet and press out into a large circle. I raise this pizza round, slightly, in a barely warmed oven, for about 20 minutes, before adding toppings and baking.

The dough recipe for pizza crust is the same dough I use for French bread, foccacia, stromboli and calzone. It works as a frozen dough for all of these breads. (I posted that recipe here.)

Foccacia makes easy "bread sticks" to go with soup. I press the thawed dough into a rectangle on a greased baking sheet, then add my toppings (which can be as simple a seasonal herbs and kosher salt, or as elaborate as pasta sauce, herbs, oliver slices and vegetables -- basically pizza without the cheese). After the foccacia is baked, I cut it into "sticks", 1-inch by 6-inch strips.

For those of you who already freeze your pizza crust dough, have you ever encountered a problem with keeping it frozen longer than 6 months? Or it failing to rise? Or any other ill-fate? Thanks for your feedback!


And why does freezing pizza dough come up now, you wonder? My two daughters are on spring break this week. Monday, we all rose at the cracking hour of 9 AM -  university finals seems to have taken it's toll on all 3 of us :-)  (In my defense, even though I didn't have to take the final examinations, I did have to get up at 5:45 AM each day to get my girls to the bus stop for their early morning exams. So a bit of a sleep-in on the first day that we had free, was very welcome.)

The weather forecast was for a gorgeous Monday, with rains returning on Tuesday for the remainder of the week. So we set out to explore the vintage area north of us for the afternoon. But before leaving, I needed to plan out that night's dinner. I pulled pizza dough and sauce out of the freezer to thaw, and off we went.

We had a splendid time popping in and out of vintage shops, enjoying the riverside park watching the fishermen, and sharing some pie. It had been almost a year since our last jaunt to that area, and there was so much new stuff to look at. I spent some of my birthday money from last year. And one of my daughters bought her sister a belated birthday gift. Fun times doing the girlie stuff we enjoy!

So, there's the logical explanation of why I'd post about freezing pizza dough today!




14 comments:

  1. Good morning Lili,

    glad to hear you're having with your daughters on their break. Regarding pizza dough, rather than freeze the dough, I just make several pizzas at a time (usually 3 or 4) and freeze each one individually. But I do like your idea of freezing the dough, and having it available for other uses beyond pizza. I just might try that next time, using your recipe, instead of my usual pizza dough recipe. Thanks for the ideas!

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    1. Hi Jayne,
      That works, too! Having frozen pizzas, ready and waiting, must be a real sanity saver on your super busy days!

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  2. I had about given up on homemade pizza until I tried your dough. If I don't like the crust (and so many pizza dough recipes taste like frozen pizza to me--why bother if it isn't delicious?), then I don't like the pizza. Thank you for posting this. I am like you--if it seems like too much bother, I won't do it. Sometimes (like today) cooking a dinner that takes more hands-on time is okay--other times it's overwhelming. I already freeze pizza sauce so why not the dough as well? Brilliant!

    Glad you had a fun day w/your daughters.

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    1. Hi Kris,
      I'm glad that you like the dough recipe. I think it came in the small cookbook with my food processor 20-some years ago. It's simple and good, so a win-win!

      Yeah, some days preparing a big dinner just sounds like too much for me. The funny thing is, if I do have the time, then I find that it wasn't that big of an ordeal as I had originally thought. I just get these mental roadblocks from time to time.

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  3. What a nice day - sleeping in, great weather, and pie, too! Occasionally, I get to have one of those kinds of days with my grown daughter - she lives about an hour away.
    Jo Ann

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    1. Hi Jo Ann,
      I think, in the back of my mind, I realize that these times with my two daughters are coming to close, at least the frequency of them. So I find myself suggesting outings whenever they are free.

      That must have been difficult, when your daughter first moved away. At least it's a drive-able distance, and not across the country. I'm sure that you savor the times when the two of you can get together for some mom-daughter time.

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  4. I have a recipe for whole wheat pizza crust that makes 8 crusts at once. And I always freeze some of the dough. I also have some personal pan size pizza pans and I try to freeze some of the dough for those pans as well. I can usually get 4 personal pan crusts from 1 regular crust.

    My crust recipe calls for pre-baking the crusts before adding the toppings and if I am really feeling energetic I will bake them before freezing. Now that really saves time when you want a quick pizza meal but it also involves an additional step before freezing.

    I really enjoy your blog. I always thought I was pretty frugal, and I already do a number of things you've blogged about but I'm amazed at how many new ideas I've gathered too. Thanks so much!

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    1. Hi Linda,
      Pre-baking the crusts does sound like it would save a lot of time. I may try making some personal-sized pizzas for my family to grab quick to-go lunches.
      You know, I always learn something when visiting other blogs, as well. I think that's one of the great things about blogs, there is so much information to share. I'm glad you enjoy mine!

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  5. So happy that you are getting some fun time with your daughters. Perfect scheduling that they finished their finals before the break. My boys were always worrying about papers or other school things during breaks.

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      I can relate to what your boys had to deal with with breaks and coursework. My daughters' high school was on the semester system, and they always had breaks at inopportune times (like Christmas break ending 3 weeks before semester finals). But their university is on the quarter system, so they finish fall quarter just before Christmas break, and winter quarter just before spring break. The only drawback to their current academic schedule is they finish spring quarter late, compared to some schools (mid-June), which can make it harder to land summer jobs.

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  6. Did you see anything particularly interesting in those shops that you'd care o share?

    I do freeze dough, it's a great way to deal with those what-to-have-for-dinner blues. What a good idea to put the oil in with the bag, I always end up scraping dough off the sides!

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    1. Hi Jessica,
      I have a couple of favorite shops that do a fabulous job of showing how to use items in new ways. And then there are the mini-malls with dozens of vendors inside, and so much to look at. And a couple of the shops feature locally handmade items, which I'm always eager to see and support. One local artist has made a gorgeous woodsy-themed candle chandelier. I wish I'd taken a photo. Something my daughter always looks through are the vintage sewing patterns. And I'm always drawn to the practical things. I'll share more about what I've found there soon.

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  7. I'm amazed you can get by with making only one large pizza! My children are still young (five of them 4-13) but our family will eat three large pizzas with no leftovers these days. So I have not tried freezing so far. :P Might be something to attempt, though, to make it less often.

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    1. Hi Cat,
      When we have pizza for dinner, it's always accompanied by 2 side dishes, at least one of which is substantial, and often a dessert, so 1 large pizza does barely suit us. (I cut the pizza into 10 medium-size slices -- it's pretty large, fills my largest baking sheet).

      It's funny, but it doesn't seem all that long ago that 1 large pizza would leave us with an extra slice or two for my husband's lunch the next day.

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