Author Topic: Freezing dough?  (Read 5735 times)

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Offline Kevin Pierce

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Freezing dough?
« on: June 29, 2005, 05:52:29 PM »
First time poster...

I've pretty much cooked my way through Peter Reinhart's "American Pie," and have settled on his Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Dough as our "house" dough. I like his suggestion of freezing some dough so there's always some just a thaw away, but...

He describes two possible times in the process to remove the dough to the freezer:

1. After mixing and a 15 minute rest, "put (balls) in the refrigerator overnight, or FREEZE ANY PIECES YOU WON'T BE USING THE NEXT DAY."

2. The next day (after rising overnight in the refrigerator), "You can hold any balls you don't want to use right away in the refrigerator for another day, OR YOU CAN FREEZE THEM FOR UP TO THREE MONTHS."

So, freezing before the rise? Or after the rise? Either or both?

I've tried the post-rise freezing with good result, but would appreciate the wisdom of the board...

Thanks,
Kevin


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Freezing dough?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2005, 07:01:10 PM »
Kevin,

I have tried all the different combinations of freezing pizza and bread doughs since I prefer to mix up larger batches. What works best for me is:

ferment - shape - freeze - thaw - proof - bake - eat - eat more - moan

I've found pizzas made this way can be better than ones made from the same batch that had not been frozen. Not always - every batch is an adventure.  ;)

I have not yet tried freezing any doughs made using Marco's Italian cultures.

Bill

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Freezing dough?
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2005, 08:10:34 PM »
Kevin,

This is a topic that comes up quite frequently.

Generally speaking, freezing is not good for dough because the freezing cause damage to the yeast cells as the moisture freezes and expands. The result is the leaching of glutathione (a/k/a "dead yeast") from the yeast cells that results in a soft and slack dough upon defrosting, especially if the damage is severe or the period of freezing is long. The damage can also more severe if the dough is permitted to rise before freezing. Professional dough commissaries that made dough balls for pizza operators flash freeze dough at very low (cryogenic) temperatures--at far lower temperatures than you will ever be able to achieve in a home freezer. Plus, a home freezer will go through repeated defrost cycles, which is also not good for a dough. For a few days, I think you will be OK for just about any way you get the dough into the freezer, but beyond about 15 days, the conventional wisdom, at least among professionals, is that the quality of the dough will start to degrade rather quickly.

You will find many more details on the experiences of our members with frozen dough at the following threads:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,905.0.html
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,990.msg8821.html#msg8821
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1061.0.html
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1008.0.html

Peter


Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Freezing dough?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2005, 09:17:31 PM »
Wow, Peter! The conventional/professional wisdom runs so counter to my personal experience that I'm shocked. Shocked, I tell you! :o

I've NEVER found any degradation of any kind in my frozen doughs. My freezer is NOT frost-free (very dry here - frost doesn't build up) and I run it at about -10F. The dough rarely hangs around for more than 1-2 weeks, so maybe I'm the exception that proves the rule.

Bill/SFNM


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Freezing dough?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2005, 09:56:27 PM »
Bill,

In April, I participated in a PMQ online chat in which Tom Lehmann offered to answer questions about dough, and frozen pizzas and doughs in particular. I participated because one of the things I had been meaning to do for some time was to make a frozen version of the Lehmann NY style dough--for those occasions where it might come in handy to have a few spare dough balls on hand. I had already read a considerable amount of Tom's writings on this topic, and reported on the subject on several occasions on this forum myself, but most of what he has written has been for professionals, such as commissaries that make frozen dough balls for use by pizza operators who do not want to make their own dough balls. And those commissaries have all the latest equipment for freezing dough balls quickly (which is important to minimizing damage to the yeast), using either flash freezing that gets down below -25 degrees F, and maybe even lower when cryogenic freezing techniques are used.

The basic question I posed to Tom was what I should pay close attention to if I were to experiment with making frozen dough in a home setting. I intentionally left my question open ended so that I wouldn't bias the response. Tom's answer was that I should forget about trying to make frozen dough at home, saying that it was hard enough just to make ice cubes in a home freezer, never mind trying to freeze one pound balls of dough. His advice was to freeze the crust by itself, then top it, freeze it again, and then wrap. Doing this, he added, the pizza would last for about 2 weeks. He also made a point to mention that I should go easy on the veggies as they do not freeze well in the home freezer, and that they get all soft and mushy when the pizza is baked.

The one time I intentionally made a frozen Lehmann dough ball, the results were nothing to write home about. I followed all the steps that Lehmann (and others) recommended to make and freeze dough, including using ice cold water and increasing the amount of yeast to compensate for the yeast that would be destroyed by freezing, but the dough several days after freezing and following the recommended defrosting steps yielded only a mediocre crust in comparison with a freshly baked one. Lehmann has never said that a dough can't be used outside of his recommended 15-day period--only that the quality starts to go downhill rapidly after that. I remain optimistic that at some point I will figure out how to achieve better results. I do not have a separate standalone freezer--which I suspect would do a better job than my refrigerator freezer section.

Peter

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Freezing dough?
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2005, 10:07:10 PM »
Peter,

Tell you what I'm going to do, if you're willing. One of these days, I'm going to begin experimenting freezing doughs made only with wild yeast. If those doughs freeze as well as my other ones, I will Fedex one to you and let you try it in your oven if you are so inclined. You can then critique both my dough and my freezing technique. Deal?

Bill


Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Freezing dough?
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2005, 10:20:12 PM »
Bill,

I'd be happy just to read about your results. After working with natural preferments of late, I too have wondered whether naturally-fermented doughs can be frozen. I did some preliminary research on this, and while I saw a lot of stuff about freezing sourdough starters, I couldn't find anything about freezing the dough itself. I'm certain that Marco will know the answer.

One of the interesting things about glutathione, or "dead cells", is that King Arthur used to sell that product as a dough relaxer to relax doughs that are too elastic. I haven't seen the product for some time, either in the KA catalog or at the KA website. Today, pizza operators have products like PZ-44 and L-cysteine to do the same thing, and quite possibly better.

Peter

Offline Sour_Jax

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Re: Freezing dough?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2005, 07:30:11 AM »
In homebrewing you can freeze the yeasts by mixing a little glycerol in the culture before freezing, I wonder if this would work for dough as well.  Then again who knows what glycerol would do to the dough's taste.
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