Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Freezing pizza dough

Homemade pizza has become something of a weekly tradition in our house. The kids love it and making it at home lets us have a dairy-free version for The Girl (hello, soy "mozzarella"!). It's a fair sight cheaper--and less greasy--than ordering it in, too.

After experimenting with some different healthier crust recipes, I settled on a favorite from one of my Moosewood Cookbooks.  It's low on sugar and oil, uses some whole wheat flour without tasting too "healthy," and incorporates rolled oats for a little bit of texture. I typically make it that day in our bread machine using the Dough setting. But when I have more time--or an antsy child who needs to work out some energy pounding dough--I make up a big batch and freeze it in dinner-size portions.

Mix the yeast with warm water and set it aside to do its bubbly thing. The recipe calls for a teaspoon of sugar, but sometimes I feed the yeast with a half-teaspoon of honey instead.

Now you get to make your own oat flour! Whirl rolled oats in a blender or food processor until they've become a coarse flour. I like to leave it pretty chunky for the texture it gives the dough.

By this point your yeast should be foamy and ready. Add the oat flour, whole wheat flour, salt, olive oil and enough of the white flour to make a stiff dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until stretchy and smooth, about ten minutes, adding more flour as needed. This is a great time to get the kids involved! Little fists are great for pounding on dough.

You know the drill: put the dough in a greased bowl, cover and set in a warm place until doubled in size.

Time to punch down the dough--The Boy's favorite step! If you're using it right away, roll out your crust and get your pizza on. If freezing, work quickly to wrap it up and pop it into the freezer before it starts to rise again. I wrap it in plastic wrap then put the frozen dough balls into a freezer zipper bag. If I pull the frozen dough out in the morning and leave it on the counter, it's ready to use by dinner time. If you were more on top of things than I am, you could probably defrost it overnight in the refrigerator instead. Frozen bread dough usually lasts just fine about three months in the freezer.

This recipe makes a little over a pound of dough, which makes a 12-inch crust (a medium at most pizza places). It's just a bit more than enough for one meal our family--the Girl puts away more pizza than I do!

Recipe below, or view a printable version here.

  • 1 tablespoon baking yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup very warm water (105° to 115°)
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup whole wheat bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ to 2 cups unbleached white bread flour
Combine the yeast with the sugar and warm water in a large mixing bowl and set aside until bubbles rise to the surface.

Whirl the oats in a blender or food processor until they are the consistency of coarse flour. When the yeast is thoroughly dissolved and frothy, about 7 to 10 minutes, add the oat flour, whole wheat flour, oil, salt, and enough of the white flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and elastic, adding the remaining flour as needed.

Lightly oil or spray a large bowl. Place the dough in it; turn it once to coat, cover it with a damp towel, and allow to raise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings.

When the dough has doubled in size, preheat the oven to 450°F and prepare a 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray or oil.

Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead for about 1 minute. Using your hand or a rolling pin, stretch the dough into a large circle. Place the dough on the pizza pan and continue stretching it until it covers the pan. Using your hands or a rolling pin, stretch the dough into a large circle. Place the dough on the pizza pan and continue stretching it until it covers the pan. Using your fingers, make a slightly thicker edge of crust around the perimeter of the pan. Very lightly spray or oil the dough and allow it to rise in a warm place for 10 minutes. Evenly spread the topping of your choice on the dough, top with the grated cheese, and bake for about 15 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Makes one 12-inch pizza crust; serves 4

From Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites: Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals (instructions slightly modified from cookbook version)

1 comment:

  1. Try subbing Whole Wheat Pastry Flour for the Whole Wheat flour in this recipe, and others. WWPF is a great substitute for general white all purpose flour in a lot of baking recipes. It is a very fine delicate crumb that is great for baking. Start with a 50% substitution and if you like that, try a full substitution.


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