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Pre-baking pizza crust?

I'm having a party this weekend and I plan to make about six 12" pizzas during the course of the evening. Since I don't want to be stuck in the kitchen for a good part of the night, can I pre-bake the crust and then add sauce and toppings during the party and finish baking it then? If you have done this, any tips or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. I wouldn't unless you were going to do a Sicilian style pizza. My regular (neapolitan) pizza crusts cook in about 2-3 minutes under the broiler and I'd imagine the crust would get too tough if you cooked it bare and then reheated it with toppings. Sicilian style pies can either be par-baked since they take longer to cook or still do well reheated. For my Sicilian pies, I use a focaccia recipe and let it proof in the pan and then put the cheese directly on the dough and the sauce on top, this prevents the dough from getting soggy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ESNY

      "My regular (neapolitan) pizza crusts cook in about 2-3 minutes under the broiler and I'd imagine the crust would get too tough if you cooked it bare and then reheated it with toppings."

      That's exactly what I thought. Thanks ESNY.

      1. re: ttoommyy

        There's a whole industry of commercial pre-baked pizza shells that come in a variety of sizes, shapes and thicknesses to accommodate different applications for restaurants, bars and the home kitchen.....including very thin pie crusts. Most notable are the Boboli brand. If I am not mistaken, you're from the same area as myself and in these parts, Kontos, the pocketless pita bread and Filo dough maker also has versions. The Restaurant Depot also sells similar products locally....so it can definitely be done.

        The question you have to answer yourself, is how your dough recipe will hold up after pre-baking. If it turns out hard like a cracker, maybe not such a great idea, but if your dough recipe stays soft after pre-baking, absolutely. I would suggest you try a test run with one shell and see how it works out.

        If you want to try something different, very easy and very inexpensive, use Flour tortillas for the thinnest pizzas possible. There's a well known chef who makes his Smoked Salmon Pizza for his restaurants using commercially produced flour tortillas which he purchases from his regular food service company. For a twist, you can impress your guests with Whole Wheat, Spinach or Sun Dried Tortillas.....and tell them you slaved all day making them.

    2. I agree with fourunder.

      And, if you plan to grill them, you can certainly grill the dough ahead of time, then use the hot oven or broiler to bake the pizza when it's topped. Go lightly on the toppings and make sure they are all at room temp.

      1. Have you made pizza before in a style that you prefer? I'm guessing that pre-baked crusts won't produce very good pizza. I make pizza probably once a week, and I rarely do it when I have to make more than 4 or 6, and that reason is because the quality drops. I'm better off making burgers or something else that I can make very well for a crowd. If you're compromising your product, why bother? If you don't mind how pre-baked crust tastes, then go right ahead.

        But has been suggested, certainly do a test run. I tend to avoid experimenting on guests (other than those who demand it).

        1. Depends how you make it, but yeah I do with mine anyway, just to get the base cooked through sometimes.

          1. Would you consider making focaccia pizza? I make mine in advance, have them refrigerated overnight. Top with toppings in the morning, then bake before everyone gets there.

            9 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              Sounds interesting. Not sure what you mean by "focaccia pizza" though. Can you elaborate? Thanks chowser.

              1. re: ttoommyy

                It's thick crust "pizza". I use Peter Reinhart's focaccia recipe (have doubled it but it does serve a lot).

                http://veganyumyum.com/2008/05/poolis...

                The longer the rise, the better. I do the second rise the night before I plan to bake it, in the trays. I should have gone into more detail in my last post. If the toppings can be baked for half an hour, I'll top them in the morning and then put it back in the refrigerator. Remove about an hour before baking. But, I find with things like tomato sauce and mozzarella, it works better to bake the focaccia half way, add toppings and then finish it.

                It's a great, hearty pizza but nothing like the thin curst, charred ones--just as good but different.

                1. re: chowser

                  I just pulled out Bread Baker's Apprentice. Reinhart suggests toppings (since mine were more trial by error):

                  pre-proof: sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, fresh herbs, walnuts, pine nuts, sauteed mushrooms, red or green peppers, onions

                  pre-bake: high moisture cheeses (blue cheese, fresh mozzarella, feta), cooked ground meat or meat strips, coarse salt, sugar

                  during bake: dry/semi hard cheeses (parm, reg mozzarella, jack, cheddar, swiss)

                  1. re: chowser

                    Thanks for all the great info chowser, this looks like it may be a good alternative.

                    And thanks to all the others who answered...lots of good info and tips here. I appreciate all the responses.

                    1. re: chowser

                      I make my square pizza with Reinhart's focaccia dough as well. It takes really well to reheating (the fully cooked pies), possibly even better than the initial bake. It might be a function of the pan i'm using, but I never get the bottom as crispy as I want on the initial bake, even though its nice and golden brown, but on the reheat, its crisps up perfectly and gives its a nice textural contrast to the chewy dough.

                      Also, as I mention above, I put the cheese on first and then the sauce and don't see a need to put the cheese and sauce on halfway through baking.

                      1. re: ESNY

                        How do you rebake it? As you said with yours, my bottom crust isn't that crusty since I bake it in a half sheet pan or tall cake pan, stainless steel. I'm thinking I could remove it, after baking and finish it on tiles on high to get that crust, as you do.

                        I started doing this a few years ago and I can't remember why I started putting certain toppings on at the midpoint, except that it wasn't turning out the way I wanted. But, I can't remember why at this point, just got into the habit. I have done goat cheese, figs, caramelized onions and prosciutto where I put the first three on before and prosciutto near the end so the prosciutto just got hot but not dried.

                        1. re: chowser

                          I also use a half sheet pan. I don't rebake it but noticed that the crunch on the leftover slices is much better than the initial slices. I reheat in the oven on my stone. preheat the stone at 450 and put the slices on the stone till the slices are hot, maybe 5-7 minutes. Get's a nice crust on the bottom and even more golden brown.

                          I think next time I make it, a few minutes before the end of baking, I may take it out of the sheet pan and cook it the last few minutes directly on the stone.

                          Attached are a few pics of my last pie. A hot sausage and hot hungarian wax pepper/jalapeno pie.

                           
                           
                          1. re: ESNY

                            Nice shots/pizza! Great idea on reheating pizza--I'll give that a try next time. Sure would beat the microwave.