I love pizza. I love it with gooey cheese that forms strings back to the slice after you take a bite. I love it cold, topped with bruschetta and olives and fresh arugula only after you’ve pulled the crust from the oven. I love it seasonal, topped with apple butter and butternut squash and prosciutto on a brisk fall day. I love PIZZA, any way, any time, any how.
I don’t particularly love the taste or predictability of store-bought frozen concoctions or the expense and outsized portions that comes with ordering out as often as I’d have to in order to feed my addiction.
I experimented with recipes for years. Then, when I finally found my dream dough, it called for a long cold rise, the kind of rise that yields perfect flavor and chewiness. Great! Except it kinda prohibits feeding any last minute cravings.
The secret to having both that exceptional homemade crust AND convenience, I discovered, was to make a large batch of dough once or twice a month. Form and bake the crusts until just firm, and then freeze them in that perfect state of half-doneness.
That partial baking is called par baking. Once the crusts are par-baked, I cool them on baking racks.
If I’m making a specialty pizza, like this Roasted Butternut Squash Apple Burrata Pizza (a personal favorite recipe from Half Baked Harvest), and I’ve got enough of the toppings to make more than one, sometimes I’ll go ahead and top some of the crusts before freezing them. Creamy cheeses like fresh mozzarella or brie that don’t normally freeze well are fine to use on homemade frozen pizzas. As long as you bake the pizza within a month, you won’t notice any difference in the texture or flavor of the baked cheese from its time in the freezer.
I topped two of the crusts in this batch with fig butter, sliced apples, roasted butternut squash, fresh mozzarella (the one concession I made was not using burrata for the frozen version), and prosciutto. Two of the crusts I left plain so I could top them however I want later.
Once all the crusts have cooled, and I’ve added any toppings I may want, then I leave the pizzas on the baking racks and put them directly in the freezer. DO NOT wrap the crusts at this stage. You don’t want to trap moisture in the wrapping. That way lies freezer burn!
Once the pizzas have frozen, wrap them individually — first in plastic wrap, then in foil — and return them to the freezer right away.
Later, I can pull out a frozen gourmet pizza and be ready to eat it in less than 15 minutes!
Or, say I’m not in the mood for a pre-topped pizza — I want something different. I can pull out a frozen crust and top it on the fly, say with sun dried tomato pesto, roasted red peppers, mozzarella cheese, crumbled gouda, and thick slices of red onion. This particular pizza was made entirely from pantry ingredients and leftovers. I wanted something a little different from that week’s recipes, and just put things together that sounded good.
My dog was mad at me because I ate the whole thing and didn’t share it with her. It was just so good!
New York-Style Frozen Pizza
Learn how to make and freeze New York Style crusts in bulk, so you can have homemade gourmet pizza in minutes on busy nights. Recipe adapted from Pizza by Diane Morgan and Tony Gemignani
Set out two small bowls. If using a heavy duty stand mixer, attach the dough hook.
In one of the small bowls, stir yeast into lukewarm water and set aside for about 5 minutes, until the yeast dissolves.
In the other small bowl, gently stir sugar, salt, and olive oil into the cold water until sugar and salt dissolve.
Measure 5 1/4 cups of flour into the bowl of the heavy duty stand mixer.
Add both the lukewarm water mixture and the ice-cold water mixture to the flour and mix on low speed for about four minutes until the dough forms a loose ball with all ingredients incorporated.
Let dough rest ten to twenty minutes.
Mix again on low speed for about six minutes longer until the dough is smooth, not sticky. Be careful not to overheat the mixer. If you notice it struggling, turn it off for a few minutes to let it cool down.
Dust a wooden cutting board or other work surface with flour.
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead by hand for another couple minutes until smooth, adding up to a 1/4 cup of flour. (If you choose to knead the entire batch by hand instead of using a mixer, do so for 10-12 minutes.)
Prepare dough for rising
If making pizzas that will feed two or more people, divide the dough into three even portions. If making individual pizzas, divide the dough into five even portions.
For each portion of dough, pull the opposite edges together, wrap them underneath, and pinch any edges together until you have a smooth ball.
Place each dough ball in a 1 gallon ziploc bag (for larger size) or 1 quart bag (for individual size). Press the air from the bags and seal.
Place bags in the refrigerator for 10 hours to 2 days.
Par bake the crusts
Remove the dough from the refrigerator about an hour before before you're ready to use it.
At the same time, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven on the bottom rack.
One hour later, place a piece of parchment paper out on your work surface.
Remove a dough portion from its bag and place on parchment paper. Stretch dough with your hands into a large, thin circle about 1/4” thick. Repeat for remaining portions.
To Par Bake Crusts for Freezing
Par bake one portion at a time. Place the pizza dough and parchment paper on a perforated pizza pan and bake in oven for 2-3 minutes. Remove pizza crust from oven and allow to cool on a baking rack. Repeat with remaining portions.
Allow pizza crusts to cool. Add toppings if desired or leave crust bare for topping later. Freeze individually on baking racks or sheets for three hours or overnight.
When pizza is frozen, remove from freezer and quickly wrap tightly first in plastic wrap, then in foil. Return to freezer for up to one month.
To Cook From Frozen
Preheat oven to 500 before removing pizza from freezer.
Remove crust from freezer and place on perforated pizza pan. Add toppings if necessary. Place the pizza in the oven for 9-10 minutes, then remove the pizza from the parchment paper and screen and place it back in the oven directly on the rack for 2-3 minutes more in order to brown bottom of the crust.