Oh I am excited to share with you how to make your own Homemade Frozen Pizzas. It may sound a little mad, but stay with me – there’s a method to my madness. You see, Hungry Hubby and I just love pizza, which you will surely have noticed if you follow me on Facebook and I already have plenty of ideas of recipes for you to try on the blog. However, despite a rapid cooking time, pizza isn’t truly fast food when made from scratch because of needing to let the dough prove slowly to maximise flavour and texture. When I went on my Sourdough Masterclass with Dan Lepard, the topic of conversation drifted onto pizza and he shared some of the best advice about making your own I’ve ever heard and I’ve been putting it into practice ever since. It’s finally time to share the method with you!
When making pizza from scratch, the one thing I’ve come to learn myself is how much better they taste for allowing the dough to prove very slowly. I typically make mine in the morning before work and as long as it’s not a hot day, leave covered on the worktop all day to prove. It’s a soft, almost batter like dough and 12 hours of rising gives a hint of tang reminiscent of sourdough. Leaving it 24 hours is just dandy if your plans change and the flavour will only benefit from it. Thing is, the time when you want a freshly cooked pizza is all too often when you don’t have the time to make one. Enter Dan and his sage advice. In a nut shell, he shapes the base and coats with only the layer of tomato sauce before cooking for 8-10 minutes. The base will be risen and set but will have little colour on it, once cold, it can be frozen for another day. When you are ready for it, sprinkle on your toppings and cheese and cook in a hellish hot oven for a mere 10-15 minutes and bam, dinner is served!
Other wisdom from Dan included the importance of pre-shaping the dough as you can see here – once proved, divide the dough into portions and shape into balls. Allow to rest for an hour and then pat and push it out to a round. You could pick it up and spin it in your hands if you are more deft than I! This helps give strength and structure to the dough so it doesn’t snap and tear as you shape it.
Next up was making sure your tomato sauce (by this I mean a passata base – i.e. whizzed up canned tomatoes – with a few select seasonings, not ketchup!) was liquid enough for you to quickly spread on the pizza base without dragging and get it in the oven pronto so it doesn’t go soggy. Be generous though as it is getting baked twice so you want plenty on there.
To bake it in the absence of a pizza oven, a Welsh bakestone is something Dan advocated and I bought one as soon as I got home from the class and I haven’t looked back – it is a thick steel plate you put in the oven to preheat and it gives a beautifully crisp base and also the heat from underneath really helps with getting the pizza cooking and puffing up immediately to give a well aerated base. Of course, you can later use it on the stove top to make actual Welshcakes with, for a more traditional use out of this handy dandy piece of kitchen kit. One thing though – you only need this to cook the raw dough pizza on. When you reheat it with the toppings from frozen, place it directly on the oven shelf, like the ones from the supermarket tell you to do. As the base is already crisp enough, it will go too hard if you use the bakestone the second time too.
Using Dan’s nuggets of wisdom I have developed my own recipes for the base and tomato sauce for you to try. In truth, every pizza I make has taught me something. I make enough dough for 3-4 large pizzas and conveniently, that uses up one large (approx 400g) can of plum tomatoes to make the sauce. I must have closure issues as I find it very hard to leave half open ingredients of any sort in the fridge for long without finding a use for them, so if you’re like me, I’m sure you will find this recipe very satisfying too! You can vary the seasonings to suit your mood or the toppings you have planned on using for the pizza. This is a basic starting point for you to tweak to your own preferences. Adding a teaspoon of my Italian Seasoning is delicious, especially with a nice fennel and black pepper studded salami.
The point to making pizza bases specifically to freeze for later is to make getting a real meal on the table fast one days when you may have otherwise bought one part-baked from the supermarket on the way home or worse, ordered from your local pizza delivery place. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some tasty takeaway pizzas but the portions tend to be huge and I can’t imagine any of them use higher welfare meat or quality ingredients in general. Waking up the nice morning bone dry and needing a gallon of water to drink leaves me a touch concerned about the amount of salt they use too. Make your own life easier (and your family healthier) by whipping up a large batch of dough on a weekend when you have time to enjoy the process. Be mindful that if using a stand mixer, they can’t always accommodate large volumes of a heavy, yeasted dough so you may have to do this by hand. Which brings it’s own therapeutic benefits too. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of cool, soft, smooth dough in your hands.
When we get to a weary Wednesday when all I want to do is eat and collapse onto the couch with a whole season of Lucifer or Sherlock (my current Netflix obsessions) then I simply bang the oven on as hot as it will go, text Hungry Hubby and get him to bring home a bag of salad and get chopping a few toppings to strew across my frozen, sauced up pizza base and once the oven is about 240˚C, in it goes and out comes the glass (bottle) of wine to serve with it. No stress. No mess. No worrying where on earth the pepperoni came from or how much salt the takeaway has laced your pizza with. It would have had to be one pretty horrendous day for me not to mind 10 minutes of prep in order to get real, home cooked food on the table. It would also make entertaining midweek a breeze. Your guests will be amazed at your domestic god or goddess powers when you ask them to select their favourite toppings and a mere quarter of an hour later, you shimmy forth with a steaming hot, home cooked pizza! Just make sure you put plenty of beers in the fridge the night before and they will never eat another Dominoes again 😉
- 900g strong white bread flour
- 10g dried yeast
- 15g sea salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil (I use extra virgin here)
- Approx 700ml cold water
- Extra white flour
- Fine polenta
- 1 can of plum tomatoes (about 400g in weight)
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tsp dried oregano or Italian Seasoning (recipe also on the blog)
- 60ml red wine
- Salt and black pepper to season as liked
- Dough scraper if making by hand
- Silicone baking sheets or greaseproof paper
- A metal baking sheet without a lip
- A bakestone
- Make the dough by combining the flour, yeast and salt (don't put the latter two directly on top of each other) then pour in the olive oil and rub it in well.
- Next pour in the water slowly, mixing by hand or with a spatula until you have a shaggy mess (that's the official term). Bring together to a smooth dough, adding water cautiously but with pizza, the wetter the better is the way to go - it should be like a very thick, stiff batter rather than a dough.
- If kneading by hand, knead for 10 minutes and make use of a dough scraper to work the dough. It should be smooth and when gathered into a ball, will flow slightly to take the shape of it's container. If using a stand mixer, 5 minutes should do it but do it on the lowest speed and stop every now and again to scrape the dough down as most domestic mixers can't take this volume of dough and it won't mix thoroughly otherwise.
- Place in a large, oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Allow to prove for up to 24 hours in a cool kitchen. If it is hot, put it in the fridge until needed.
- Next, divide the dough into portions - I mostly divide it into thirds to make three 12 inch pizzas that are ample to feed two hungry people each. You can portion it up however best suits you.
- On a lightly floured surface, take a portion of the dough and roll it around from cupped hand to hand until it forms a nice, smooth, taut ball. Place on a sheet of reusable silicone paper (sold as Bake-o-glide in a lot of shops) or greaseproof paper which you have lightly dusted with flour and then sprinkled with polenta - the latter helps the dough not to stick. Cover with a large upturned bowl and leave the rest for an hour. Repeat for the remaining portions of dough.
- When ready to bake, make your sauce. This couldn't be easier - simply put everything in a blender or a jug for a stick/immersion blender and whiz until smooth. I check the consistency and add 2 tbsp of water if needed (swill the tomato can out with it first so not to waste the juice left behind).
- Put your bakestone in the oven on a middle shelf. If you haven't got one, use a heavy duty baking tray which won't warp in high heat. Preheat your oven as hot as it will go - usually this is around 240˚C for domestic ovens.
- Return to your dough and leaving it on the silicone/greaseproof, pat it out to a large round, making sure the edges are the thickest bit to help with containing the sauce later. Oil your hands if necessary and push and pat until it is paper thin in the middle (this dough has excellent oven spring so unless you love deep pan pizzas, go as thin as you dare).
- Spread with tomato sauce onto base using the back of a spoon to get it evenly distributed.
- Now to bake. You are going to scoop the pizza, still on it's silicone/greaseproof onto the metal baking tray without a lip (if yours is lipped, turn it upside down) then shunt it onto the hot bakestone. It's the poor man's version of using a pizza peel! Just be careful when opening the oven door as it is super hot so stand back and do use an oven glove to protect your hand.
- Cook for 8 minutes. The base should have puffed up and the will be set/dry to the touch but without any colour. The tomato sauce will have baked on and become richer and more intense in flavour as the moisture is driven off by the hot oven. If it's not quite done, give it another 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile shape and sauce up the next pizza.
- Use the metal baking tray to retrieve the cooked pizza and transfer to a rack to cool, whilst the next pizza cooks. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
- Once cold, which shouldn't take more than half an hour on a rack, remove the silicone/greaseproof and wrap the pizza tightly in two layers of cling film. There will be some flexibility in the cold pizza bases, which is good - no one likes a cardboard pizza! - so handle gently.
- Place in the deep freeze, stacked up, until needed.
- When ready to cook the frozen pizzas, preheat the oven to 240˚C again this time without the bakestone.
- Unwrap your pizza base and top with whatever you like, finishing with plenty of cheese and I like extra dried oregano on most of mine. Place directly on the oven shelf and give it 10-15 minutes to cook and the cheese to start to bubble and burnish. It will depend on how thick you made your pizza and of course, how large you made it so use the cooking time as a guide and bare in mind how different domestic ovens can be. You will know your own best. Happy pizza making!
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