You make some good points about freezing dough. I have seen the practice vary widely all over the place. Some people freeze the dough immediately after being kneaded, for use at a later time. Others will let the dough rest for several minutes, like an autolyse period, before freezing. Then there are those who freeze leftover dough, either after an initial rise and, in some cases, after one or more additional rises. The practice will also differ for professional dough makers and home bakers. The professionals, such as those who make frozen dough balls in commisaries for use by pizzerias, usually freeze the dough balls fairly quickly after kneading since otherwise they may start to grow in size and act as insulators and be difficult to cool down quickly once they go into the cooler. For the small amount of dough used by most home bakers, this is not likely to be a problem.
For those who may wonder why freezing pizza dough can pose problems, Tom Lehmann, the dough expert at PMQ, says that freezing, especially if it is done slowly in a home freezer (as opposed to flash freezing), tends to toughen the dough so that it is harder to shape (after defrostiing), and it may also affect the yeast (through damage to the yeast cell walls due to the freezing of moisture in the dough) so that the yeast's gassing power (the production of carbon dioxide) is reduced to a fraction of its original capacity. Also, as was discussed in a previous post, glutathione (an amino acid) can leach out of the damaged cells and have a softening effect on the dough and reduce its oven spring and limit the rise of the crust. Lehmann says that the damage to the dough during freezing will not be severe for up to several days, but the rise characteristics of the dough will be inconsistent and its quality will start to deteriorate if left in the freezer for really long periods. Also, there will be a loss of fermentation flavor in the finished crust, which many people like, because of the lack of fermentation of the dough while it is frozen. From my own personal experience, I dont think it helps the dough to also expose it to the multiple thawing and re-freezing cycles of the typical home refrigerator freezer.
From what Lehmann says, if it is desired to make a batch of dough to freeze from the outset for later use, there is a way of doing this and limit the effects of freezer damage as discussed in the preceding paragraph. The dough that is to be frozen should be prepared in the usual fashion (using the preferred dough recipe) but, instead of using warm water (other than what may be needed for proofing, or rehydrating, yeast), the water used to mix and knead the dough should be ice cold. (Some bakers, but not Lehmann apparently, also recommend that the amount of yeast be increased from normal levels to compensate for the anticipated damage to the yeast during freezing, however, care should be taken on the total amount of yeast used since an overabundance can foreshorten the useful life of the dough balls). Also, the dough should be mixed only until it takes on a smooth appearance. Once this stage is reached, the dough should then be divided into the number of pieces to be frozen. (At this stage, the dough balls can be weighed to insure consistency in size.) The dough balls should then be shaped into round balls, be lightly coated with oil (any oil will do), covered with plastic wrap, and left to rise at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes, or until the dough balls can be flattened by hand or with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 1 1/2 inches. The flattened dough pieces are then placed into the freezer on a wire screen or rack and frozen completely through--not just at the outer surfaces. Once this is achieved, the dough pieces can be put into airtight containers, as densely packed as possible (to reduce air space), and placed back into the freezer until ready for use.
According to Lehmann, for best results, the frozen dough should be used within 10 days, but no longer than 15 days. Otherwise the dough will be subjected to the same type of dough damage and deterioration of dough quality and performance as discussed above. Beyond 15 days, it may be possible to use the dough to make pizzas, but the quality of the crust will not be nearly as good as one made within the 15-day window. To prepare the frozen dough pieces to make pizzas, the dough pieces should be removed from the freezer to the refrigerator section and left to thaw. This will take about 12 to 16 hours. The dough pieces can then be used the next day. Any dough pieces that won't be immediately used can remain in the refrigerator for another day or two. When ready to be used, the dough pieces should be brought to room temperature, covered lightly with flour and a sheet of plastic wrap, and left to rise until they are warm enough (above 55 degrees F, to minimize blistering or bubbles in the baked crust) to shape into pizza rounds.
I sometimes read recipes that say that pizza dough can be frozen for several months. I have not done so, although I have taken steps to "rejuvenate" dough that has been frozen for long periods of time. I'd be curious to know the experiences of othes in this forum with frozen dough.