I love pizza. I could probably eat it every day. While I grew up with the occasional novelty of ordering pizza for delivery (always a big deal), I was spoiled by having my dad’s amazing homemade pizza on a pretty routine basis. It wasn’t until I was much older that I even knew that frozen pizza was a thing that existed. And it wasn’t until I was much older than that when I realized why someone might actually want to have one: mostly convenience. It’s in your house, it’s already made. You just have to stick it in the oven. Done. Not too shabby. In my opinion, however, unless you shell out the money that you would arguably just be paying for a delivery pizza, you won’t be getting too much quality. But would it be possible to have the convenience of a frozen pizza without losing the quality of a homemade pizza? We decided to make that the challenge of our next Showdown!
I have been working on homemade frozen pizzas off and on for the past few years. It is a hard science to master. There are several different methods. Some don’t pre-bake at all, some pre-bake a little, some pre-bake entirely. Some pre-bake just the crust and add toppings to a cooled crust later, while others pre-bake with a fully topped pizza.
In my experience, if I didn’t pre-bake the crust enough, even after baking the frozen pizza again for us to eat, the pizza would have a slightly undercooked taste or texture to it. Also, if I added the toppings on for the pre-baking, it was easy for the toppings to get overcooked in the cooking process even if I wanted to have the crust cooked slightly more.
So for the showdown, Katie cooked a few Jack’s frozen pizzas that would have a rising crust, and I made homemade frozen pizzas. I pre-baked the crusts alone, topped them once the crusts had cooled, then froze them. When it was time to bake, I baked them on pizza pans with holes on the base so that the crust could cook as much as possible for maximum crispiness. Overall, I think it was the best outcome I have had with my many endeavors at homemade frozen pizza.
Our taste testers still chose the store-bought frozen pizza in a ratio of 2:1. I wasn’t surprised, but I also wasn’t discouraged, because people still liked the homemade version, whereas my husband and I have definitely not enjoyed some of my previous attempts!
If price is a motivator for you (as it often is for me), Katie spent $10 on her three store-bought pizzas. I spent $6 for my 12 homemade pizzas (smaller in size, equivalent to about 6 of the store-bought size), and we only cooked 6 of them. So basically I spent $3 for the day, and spent $3 for a meal still stashed away in my freezer!
What did I learn from this? I will most likely stick to my more reliable source for a quick pizza meal: freezing the pizza dough. If I freeze the pizza dough in balls and set them out on the counter or the refrigerator to defrost, I can roll them out, top them, and cook them in 5 minutes. Easy peasy!
The recipe I use for these frozen pizzas is also based on my favorite pizza crust that I use for Made to Order Pizzas that I wrote for Martin’s Supermarket.
What you need:
- 5 1/4 c. bread flour
- 1/2 c. cornmeal
- 4 t. instant yeast
- 4 t. kosher salt
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 4 T. olive oil
- 2 c. lukewarm water (about 105F)
- pizza toppings: your favorites!
- suggestions: sauce, pesto, mozzarella, pepperoni, black olives, basil, roasted tomatoes, browned Italian sausage (The biggest benefit to me of making your own frozen pizzas is that you can choose your own combination of toppings that you might never find in any store-bought variety!)
- electric mixer fitted with a dough hook
- plastic wrap and aluminum foil
- large bowl
- clean kitchen towel
- rolling pin
- rolling dough docker (or large flute)
- pizza pan
Time: 10 minutes prep, 90 minutes rising, 20 minutes assembly, 15 minutes baking (plus freezing time)
Serves: Makes twelve 12-inch pizzas
Multiplying the recipe: Yes, this would multiply easily, though the double batch of dough would need to be mixed separately – it wouldn’t fit in the mixer bowl!
Homemade Frozen Pizza:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, cornmeal, yeast, salt and pepper. While mixing on low, add the lukewarm water and olive oil. Increase the speed of the mixer and knead with the dough hook for 3-5 minutes. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of flour on the counter (just enough to keep the dough from sticking) and knead by hand a few turns until you have formed a smooth round ball of dough. Place in a greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
Compile pizza toppings. Brown Italian sausage, if using. Drain fresh mozzarella, if using.
Place a pizza stone on the lowest rack in the oven and preheat the stone with the oven to 500F.
When the dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured counter and divide into 8-12 pieces, depending on how large you want your pizzas. Put each piece onto a sheet of parchment paper and roll into a 12-inch circle. Prick the tops of the rolled circle with a dough docker or large fork.
Pick up the individual pizza by the parchment and place it directly onto the hot pizza stone. You should be able to fit two pizzas on the stone at a time. Bake for 5-6 minutes, until crust is lightly browned. Remove pizza crust from the stone to a cooling rack. You want the stone to remain hot, so keep it in the oven if you are not ready to reload it with more pizza dough.
Once the crusts are completely cool, add pizza toppings. Wrap topped pizzas with plastic wrap and then with two layers of aluminum foil. Label the outside with the kind of pizza and the date, and put in your freezer.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450F. Unwrap pizza and place 2-3 pizzas on a metal pizza pan with holes in the base of the pan. I find these the most effective for reheating the bottom of the crust evenly with the rest of the pizza. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling. Enjoy!