Freezer Meal Cooking Day yesterday was a success! I didn’t get as much done as I wanted, but I did get four meals prepped and into the freezer. I made two pans of to-be-baked ziti and two homemade pizzas. I have about half of the ingredients ready for black bean burritos so hopefully this afternoon I’ll have time to finish and assemble them. I actually really enjoyed doing all the prep in advance and could possibly see this becoming a regular routine in the future. As a future full-time working mom, having meals ready to go would be very convenient.
Today I’ll write about how to make a homemade frozen pizza. I’ll write up the ziti recipe in a separate post for this week. I love pizza, including frozen pizza. Pizza is a wonderful comfort food and frozen pizza is so great to just pop in the oven when you get home from work. Add a salad and you have a quick and (depending on the type of pizza and how much you eat) not too unhealthy meal.
But homemade pizza tastes worlds better than anything you can find in the freezer section of the grocery store. Unfortunately homemade pizza is not a quick process due to the dough mixing and rising. So it’s not a good candidate for a week-night meal if you work all day. What I found yesterday is that it’s actually very easy to make a homemade frozen pizza, all assembled and ready to go, so that you can pop it in the oven just like any store-bought pizza. It does take a bit of time, but I’m certain the end result will be worth it!
Homemade Frozen Pizzas
Makes 2 thick-crust, approximately 12″ pizzas
1 recipe Pizza Dough (see below)
1 recipe Pizza Sauce (see below), or bottled or canned if desired
Pizza toppings such as vegetables or meat
Mozzarella or Italian-blend cheese
2 pizza pans, reusable or foil
1 ½ cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 packages dry yeast (or 4 ½ teaspoons yeast)
4 ½ cups bread flour
½ green pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, undrained
2 tsp sugar
1 ½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Frozen Pizza Directions:
1. First make the pizza dough, as directed below:
Combine water, oil, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water mixture and stir until dissolved. Using paddle attachment or spoon, gradually add flour, mixing well after each addition. I usually stir in the first three cups of flour manually with a wooden spoon and then switch to the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid.
Once the dough forms into a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, knead with dough hook for 12 minutes, adding flour if necessary. If you don’t have a mixer, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. If kneading by hand it will take longer.
Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.
Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for approximately one hour or until doubled in size. TIP: set the bowl on top of a smaller bowl filled with warm water.
2. While the dough is rising, make the sauce and prep the toppings. To make the sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and simmer at least 30 minutes. Allow sauce to cool to room temperature once it is finished simmering.
3. Once the dough has doubled in size, form and partially bake the pizza crusts:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle a little flour on it if it’s a little sticky and knead a couple times. Cut the dough in half. Roll out one half into a circle and place in pizza pan. Use fingers to pat dough all the way to the edges or tuck in dough that is over the edge. I sprayed my pans with non-stick spray first (because I’m paranoid) so you can do that if you want. Repeat with other half of dough.
Bake pizza dough for 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to cool COMPLETELY. It is important that the dough and the sauce are cooled to room temperature so that when you add cheese at the end, it does not melt.
4. Once pizza crusts and sauce are cooled, assemble the pizzas.
Layer as much sauce as desired on top of pizza crust. Unless you like tons of sauce, you probably won’t need the entire batch of sauce. Freeze the rest for another time.
Then layer on desired toppings. I made one pizza with spinach, red peppers and red onions. The other I topped with two browned, cut-up Boca burgers and green peppers.
Finally top both pizzas with as much cheese as desired.
5. Resist the urge to bake the pizza immediately. Wrap both pizzas securely in plastic wrap and freeze.
I used two strips of plastic wrap, one going each way, to wrap up the pizzas tightly. Then I placed both in my deep freezer in the garage.
Note that if your only freezer is a side-by-side, it may be a little tricky to get the pizza in the freezer because it can’t lay flat. I would suggest wrapping it as tightly as possible and then sliding it in sideways. Use other frozen food to support the pizza. Then once it’s frozen all the way through it will be fine. In that case it might be easier to use solid, reuseable pizza pans rather than foil pans. I used foil pans and they gave in the middle. They would not stand up on their side on their own without support.
6. All done! To enjoy later:
Defrost the pizza in the refrigerator if desired. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bake for 10-12 minutes if thawed, until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown. If baking straight from frozen it will take longer. I’m not sure how long, so keep an eye on it.
If thick crust is not your thing, you can divide the dough into three parts and make three thin crust pizzas.
Anyone else ever make homemade frozen pizzas before? I think next time I may double the dough recipe and make four pizzas at once. It really wouldn’t take that much longer than making two. The hardest part is not wanting to bake one and eat it immediately! After all that hard work, I really wanted the reward of eating the pizza. If I made four then I could eat one right away and still have three for the freezer. 😉