Anyway, thanks again for your help, I almost gave up making pizzas.
I do have a few questions:
1. I am having a party and want to have a few skins ready. My wife doesn't like the mess I make. How can I make the skins before hand if I am using a cold dough. Shape them and then put them back in the fridge? or let them come to room temp. first then shape them?
2. I think I have read from other forums that you are not a fan of freezing, but have you tried or have any suggestions for freezing this dough for emergency purposes? Thanks.
I'm glad that you achieved such good results. Your pizza looks very good. The PJ clone doughs, especially those that can be made in reasonably short periods of time (a few days or less), seem to be in that "sweet spot" that makes it easier for people to successfully navigate. Or else I am only hearing the success stories and not the failures.
With respect to your first question, my practice in the past when making several pizzas for a party has been to keep the dough balls in the refrigerator and remove them about 1-2 hours (depending on the room temperature) before planning to use them to make pizzas. I would then make the pizzas one at a time, knowing that the last dough ball used will still be in good shape (i.e., not overferment) for several hours (say, 3-4 hours). What Papa John's does when they know they are going to be slammed is to make the skins in advance, dock them like crazy, place them on pizza screens or disks, and stack them in racks pending orders. The problem with this approach is that the skins can sometimes overferment and result in less than optimum results. Also, the excessive docking leads to a less attractive pizza (the rims are riddled with holes that show up in the baked pizza). If you have no choice but to make the skins up in advance, I think I would form the skins, cover them very lightly with a film of oil to that the surface doesn't dry out, cover them in plastic wrap, and put into the refrigerator. You might even stack them separated with cardboard or parchment paper, and then cover the entire stack before refrigerating. They should be removed from the refrigerator about 1-2 hours before using and left to warm up at room temperature for that period of time before using. You will want to separate them from the stack so that they don't compress each other. If you have enough time to experiment using this approach before the party, that would be a good thing, just to be sure that it will work with your particular dough formulation and operating (kitchen) environment.
As for your second question, I have not tried freezing any of the PJ clone dough balls simply because PJ does not do that and I was trying in this thread to replicate PJ's methods as closely as possible. However, I have had a lot of experience playing around with frozen doughs and, in my opinion, it is a workable solution for those who would like to make several dough balls in advance and freeze them for later use. But, I think I would only use this method for PJ clone dough balls that contain a fair amount of yeast to begin with. I don't think I would freeze PJ clone dough balls with very small amounts of yeast. If you know in advance that you want to make and freeze several dough balls, the approach to use is to double to triple the normal amount of yeast to compensate for the fact that freezing kills some of the yeast. But, even then, I think I would do this only for the PJ clone doughs that have a fair amount of yeast to begin with to be sure that there will be enough yeast in the dough to sustain proper fermentation. Also, I would not freeze the dough balls for more than about two weeks. I would personally keep the freeze time period as short as possible. In preparation for using the frozen dough balls, they can be moved from the freezer compartment to the refrigerator compartment and allowed to defrost there for about a day. They can then be removed from the refrigerator and allowed to warm up at room temperature for an hour or two before using. The dough balls can also be defrosted at room temperature but the defrost time will depend on the actual room temperature.
If you decide to use any of the above methods, I'd like to hear back from you on your results since they may help others who would contemplate doing the same sorts of things.