Sunday, January 8, 2012

Amazing Pizza Dough - Freezer Friendly

Okay folks, I may have completed one of my goals for 2012 already! I was so so pleased with this pizza dough. I want to try it baked fresh (not frozen) before I call it the perfect pizza dough recipe. This dough is not too thick, not too thin, has a great texture. We made this pizza for a group of people tonight and everyone loved it and commented on how good the dough was. I found this idea over at Annie's Eats. I recommend reading her whole post, it has good information on pizza dough and how to freeze the dough successfully. Make this soon, it's so good!

-makes enough dough for 2 pizzas
½ cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant yeast
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting*
1½ tsp. kosher salt
1¼ cup water, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.

Press down the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.) Cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes. Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Shape the dough with lightly floured hands. Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil. Top as desired. Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

*I required more flour. The amount varies on where you live, altitude, humidity, whatever. I need to add more flour to most every bread and pastry dough I try. I added about an extra cup to this recipe.

Freezer Instructions:
If you don’t plan on using your dough immediately, freeze it. To do this, mix up the dough as usual and let it rise as normal. After dividing the dough into two equal portions, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and store inside a freezer-safe bag, and transfer to the freezer immediately. (Reuse these bags to avoid being wasteful!) The double layer is important here. Even after the dough is moved to the freezer, it will continue to rise a bit before the rise is completely suspended. It always, always pops through the plastic wrap so the extra layer of protection is needed to prevent exposure.

Freeze the dough until it is ready to be used. The day you plan to use the dough, transfer it to the refrigerator in the morning to thaw in time for dinner that evening. (If using the dough for lunch, transfer to the refrigerator the night before.) The dough that has been frozen tastes every bit as good as fresh, so it is incredibly convenient to have available for a quick, throw-together meal.

I’ve had many questions pertaining to the need to freeze the dough if you plan to use it the very next day. It seems logical that you could simply refrigerate it immediately after the rise and use it the following day. However, I have tried this and it didn’t go well. The refrigerator is not cold enough to stop the rise quickly and the result is an over-risen, crazy puffy monster dough.

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