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Pizza dough: Okay to make earlier in day for baking tonight?

I promised hubby I'd make pizza for dinner tonight. I always make the dough and then bake it immediately. I'd rather get it out of the way, though, today. So can I make it now (mid-day), through the rise, then oil and wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge until I assemble it?

Or (even better) can I make it through the stage where I have it in on the pan, cover it and keep it in the fridge?

I think is probably somewhat of a simpleton question, but as I said, I've never tried holding it before. TY.

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  1. AFAIK, what will happen, is that the gluten will be ... not stronger.. better connected? So the dough will be stretchier, which is a good thing. The flavour should be improved too.

    I can't honestly see why you shouldn't roll it out beforehand, but I don't think I would.

    someone will be along shortly with superior knowledge no doubt. Another tip which you may or may not know, is set out your ingredients before hand, and assemble it as quickly as possible before you pop it into the oven, so that the tomato doesn't seep in and make the base soggy. I'm guessing you already know this actually. Good luck Normandie :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Soop

      TY, Soop. I do usually get all the toppings, etc., ready and lined up, but just because it's efficient for me to do the mise-en-place (not that I'm that organized with *everything* I make, LOL). I did not know that it was also good in terms of keeping the crust crispy. Good to know about that additional benefit, Soop. :-D

    2. I usually make my dough a few days before I use it. I let it rise slowly in the fridge for a few days. I take it out of the fridge for about 2 hours before using. If you are making it mid-day and cooking later tonight, I wouldn't even bother with the fridge. Just put in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap till you are ready to use it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ESNY

        That's helpful, ESNY, and it makes sense. There's nothing really in this recipe, anyway, that would call for refrigeration. TY for helping me.

      2. What kind of flour do you use? Do you measure by weight or volume?

        11 Replies
        1. re: grampart

          My favorite recipe, which I'm using today, is Giuliani Bugialli's classic Neapolitan crust, grampart. It calls for using unbleached AP flour and measuring it by volume. (I usually end up adjusting the flour amount a little bit by feel, anyway, depending on the weather and humidity of the day.) Why do you ask?

          1. re: Normandie

            I was going to supply you with a recipe from PizzaMaking.com which is for an "emergency" dough that can be used the same day. Most of the dough recipes on this site call for a 1-3 day rise (room temp or refrigerated). This emergency version uses high-gluten/bread flour and the amounts are given in weights. However, had I known you were going for a Neopolitan type crust, I wouldn't have asked.

            1. re: grampart

              No, I'm glad you did, because you just taught me something. :-) Should I presume the other doughs you were talking about were deep-dish types? Because I like those, too.

              1. re: Normandie

                Actually, I was thinking about thin NY style.

                1. re: grampart

                  Ah, I may be suffering from a confusion in terms, then. This particular recipe of Bugialli's is thin crust--a la NY (or, a la New Haven, for diehard Pepe's or Sally's or Modern "apizza" fans). Supposedly, archetypal Neopolitan crust.

                  1. re: Normandie

                    NEAPOLITAN STYLE PIZZA: 'a pizza Napoletana. According to the Associazione vera pizza napoletana, genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of wheat flour (type 0 and/or 00), natural yeast or brewer's yeast, and water. For proper results, strong flour with high protein content (as used for bread-making rather than cakes) must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with an approved mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or any other mechanical device, and may be no more than 0.3 cm thick. Baking the pizza must take place in a wood-fired, stone oven at 485°C (905°F) for 60–90 seconds. When cooked, it should be soft and fragrant.

                    1. re: grampart

                      They do look similar, but a true Neopolitan is a different animal.

                      1. re: grampart

                        Interesting. I know Bugialli would have adapted this to the home cook, but I went to check his wording. He calls it "Pizza, Neopolitan Style". Sometimes I think "Style" is a nod to the reality that it can't always be "authentic", coming from the home kitchen. But he calls for AP unbleached flour; yeast (generic); water; pinch of salt; 1 T. OO. This recipe is kneaded by hand and he directs not to use a rolling pin, but to use the fingertips to size and shape by hand. It is very thin when sized to the dimensions he recommends, but I don't know if it exactly satisfies the 0.3 cm maximum. And, yes, I would say it is quite soft compared to some of the other thin-crust pizzas I've eaten. So I would say it's a hybrid, based on Neopolitan pizza as you have laid out the specs, but tailored to the non-pro kitchen and cook.

                        1. re: Normandie

                          Is there a reason to stretch by hand? I always use a pin.

                          I also tend to use the pizza mixes (my first attempt to make proper dough ended badly) but I think I could try a traditional recipe now that I know way more about baking

                          1. re: Soop

                            If you stretch the dough by hand you get the characteristic thicker edge that is impossible to achieve if you roll it with a pin.

                            1. re: Kelli2006

                              rolling also forces out air all throughout the dough, making for a more dense pizza.

          2. Ive made pizza dough up to 6 days ahead and kept it in a Rubbermaid container in the fridge. The yeasty flavor becomes more pronounced with time but it rises perfectly. It should sit out on the counter for 6 hours prior to refrigeration to allow the yeast to replicate and colonize the dough. The dough should be allowed 4-6 hours to come back to room temperature before baking.

            There is not a problem with letting it sit on a counter for a day, unless you live in Fla and lack AC.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Kelli2006

              Nope, not in Florida, Kelli; I'm in New England, so no problem there nine or ten months of the year. :-) I actually *like* the yeasty flavor in pizza dough, and some breads, too, so next time I'm thinking of pizza maybe I'll try assembling the dough a few days ahead, per your post. I'm more of a cook than a baker, so I didn't know that about yeast. Thanks!

              1. re: Normandie

                When I make pizza I start the poolish/starter after I dinner the night before and let it ferment until I get up the next day. As I'm drinking my fist cup of coffee I put it in the Kitchen aid and let it mix/knead. I then place it in a rubbermaid container during the day to rise, so it is ready to form and bake when I come home.

                1. re: Kelli2006

                  I'm all for advance prep. I honestly didn't know one could do this. I guess I've always thought of yeast as being delicate and fleeting. I take it you'd leave the starter out on the counter overnight, right?

                  1. re: Normandie

                    Yeast are tough critters if the liquid is not too hot(under 110°F) and they have carbs to eat. I leave it on the counter all night and on the next day. Its called the poolish or sponge method and any recipe can use it.

                    You add all the liquid and enough flour to make a paste similar to Mayonnaise. Some recipe call for the salt to be added but I tend to add the salt when I add the remainder of the flour in the morning, I also tend to add the oil in the morning, but it can go either way.This is mixed well and allowed to ferment for 8-12 hours. In the morning add the remaining flour, salt, oil and any seasonings, and mix/knead until its a smooth ball or it windowpanes. Move this to a oiled bowl and let it ferment in a warm place for 8+ hours. Punch down as needed.

                    Shape, bake, consume and repeat as necessary. Leftover dough can be frozen for 3-4 weeks in a zip bag.

                    1. re: Kelli2006

                      Frozen? Even better.

                      Thanks for the instructions, which I have copied. I will give this a try.

            2. I do mine overnight, using Peter Reinhart's recipe from 'American Pie". Its listed on 101 cookbooks website:

              1. I use Tom Lehman's dough recipe and usually allow it 2 days in the fridge before using to make pizza. It's amazing.

                3 Replies
                1. re: TatyanaG

                  Jibe and Tatyana, I'm happy to have both of your referrrals to "new" (to me) recipes. Sounds like something fun to experiment on, now that the cooler months will be on us soon. TY both very much; I'll check out both those links.

                  1. re: Normandie

                    There is quite a lot of science to pizza dough (and bread baking in general). From the King Arthur Flour site:

                    Bread yeasts attain an optimum growth temperature in the mid-90°F range. One might think, therefore, that in order to favor yeast development, we should aim for bread dough in the mid-90s. This high temperature, however, would be at the expense of flavor development through the production of organic acids, which requires considerably lower temperatures.

                    Many recipes for pizza dough (such as the Reinhart method mentioned above) now call for and extended stay in the fridge -- the slower the activity of the yeast, the more flavor compounds are created. So really, there's much less last minute work. If you can manage the advance planning, it's easier to make great pizza than good pizza.

                    1. re: sbp

                      Ooops. There's the answer to my question to Kelli, above, re leaving it out on the counter overnight. That's interesting, sbp. I always thought cold either killed yeast, or at least put it into suspended animation. But King Arthur would know.

                      It was really worthwhile to post my question here. I'm not exactly new to making pizza, but obviously I have a lot to learn about it. I know DH would be thrilled if I consistently had a ready supply of dough on hand. :-) TY.

                2. Pizza dough develops better flavor and the gluten strands relax when allowed to rise over night in the fridge. Makes a tastier crust that is easier to stretch.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chefj

                    I really like the recipe I used today, and have used it on a number of occasions. It's generally very easy to handle, but I do have to say that today, for some reason, it wasn't awfully elastic. I really didn't do anything differently (that I know of), so I don't know what the issue was. The yeast was fine...fresh and it did rise. In the end it worked out all right, but it's been better previously. So I'm happy to know that one can make it ahead and I'm going to try a longer rise, in the refrigerator, next time. Thank you, chefj.

                    1. re: Normandie

                      The elasticity of the dough is a function of gluten. So either you flour is weaker or you did not knead as well as usual.

                  2. I make pizza dough, let it rise once...then freeze it in "balls" for later. Once unthawed, it easily rises again to use. Great to always have on hand for Sunday afternoon pizza and wine! I am never without it and I only have the mess once a month!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: sedimental

                      I actually like making the dough, except for those moments when I'm adding the liquid into the well. They can be a little hair-raising as I try to make sure the liquid ends up mixing with the flour, instead of three feet of the counter and the kitchen floor. I could do with limiting the times I have to deal with that aspect of it.

                      1. re: Normandie

                        This may not be traditional, but I am a slob with the flour on the counter thing. I use a very large, low sided pasta serving bowl to mix my wet and dry ingredients. It allows me to make the well without worrying about a "broken dam" - something I've unfortunately experienced before trying this method. It works great using about 2 lbs of flour.

                      2. As you've no doubt gathered by now, the answer is yes, you can absolutely refrigerate the dough for later.

                        The only thing I'll add is to make sure that you let it warm up on the counter for an hour or so before trying to stretch/roll it out--it will make things a LOT easier. Cold dough tends to be very stubborn.