Going back a short time ago, I had mentioned in another thread about static freezing of dough, which is nothing more than freezing the dough in a "freezer" (0 to 05F and little to no airflow). As we know, this is quite deleterious to the yeast but all of the results that I got when doing the research on freezing dough indicated that the dough can be frozen in this manner and still perform reasonably well BUT the shelf life is reduced from 21-weeks for blast frozen dough to 10 to 15-days when it is static frozen. I seriously doubt that there is anything that Norma could do short of blast freezing or cryogenic freezing (-65F) to achieve any significant improvement in the quality of her frozen dough. I'm in total agreement with you, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The rules for formulating a fresh dough into a frozen dough is to increase the yeast by 50%. This is done for two reasons, 1) it compensates for the damaged yeast cells and 2) it helps to reduce the overall proofing time and improve the oven spring properties of the dough which are lost through weakening of the dough. Increase (maximize) the salt and sugar levels to reduce water activity (Aw) in the dough as a means of further protecting the yeast. Change from oil to shortening and have the shortening at 4% or slightly more to help seal the gas cells in the dough for improved gas retention resulting in better finished volumes (not so important with pizza dough but critical for dough that will be used to make bread and rolls). Minimize the amount of water added to the dough (% absorption) so as to help in retaining a firmer dough after slacking out, remember that freezing the dough results in it getting softer, some times to the point of being sticky so more water will just compound the issue. Use "additives" as needed to achieve the desired shelf life characteristics. Mix the dough to full gluten development and then just enough more to achieve the necessary dough properties that will allow for uninterrupted high speed processing of the dough. After the forming of the dough into balls, pucks, or moulded loaves get the dough into the freezer as quickly as possible with two objectives 1) reduce the internal dough temperature to 38 to 40F (this will control the yeast activity) and 2) bring the internal dough temperature down to 0 to+10F (this is the lowest temperature that we take the dough down to (economics) and then package and place into a holding freezer at -10 to -5F for a minimum of 24-hours before loading on a freezer transport for distribution. If the dough is cryogenically frozen the process is a little different in that the dough is frozen at -65F (what we call shell freezing) and the internal temperature is between +15 and +20F, the dough is then packaged and placed into a holding freezer (-10 to -5F) for 2-hours after which the internal temperature of the dough is again measured, we're looking for 0 to +5F. If the dough balls have equillibrated to that temperature they will remain in the storage freezer for the mandatory 24-hour period, if the dough balls have a higher core temperature they are given a longer residence time in the cryogenic freezer, if they are below the target temperature the residence time is reduced accordingly (again economics). I might add that the term "anal attentive" is properly and politely used to describe anyone responsible for commercial frozen dough production. Why is this? Because in a frozen dough operation you may have up to 21-weeks of production out there on a limb.....now is not the time to find out that all of the dough is failing after three weeks of storage. In a frozen dough plant it is a life of measuring the quality of each ingredient that goes into making the dough and then religiously maintaining the processing parameters and enforcing those parameters so if a dough falls outside of the parameters it is scrapped or diverted into a different processing area for use in making something else or for use in a special application where shelf life is not the order of the day such as sale or donation to a food bank where the dough will be used rather soon. It's even more fun when you get into studying the distribution of frozen dough, and to put a twist into the cat's tail there is another type of frozen dough which is called "pre-proofed frozen dough". I know, it sounds contrary to everything we've discussed but it can and is being done very successfully, where you ask? Look no further than your local supermarket, frozen pizza section, Schwan's Foods Freschetta Pizza, yep, pre-proofed frozen, but that's another story.
Tom Lehmann/the Dough Doctor
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor