Do-Ahead Pizza

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One of my favorite meals to make when family or guests come to dinner is homemade pizza. However, since I am a type-A personality and like to have everything prepared in advance before guests arrive, and assembling pizza is really best done at the last minute, serving pizza has usually meant that I wouldn’t be very relaxed during dinner. But that was before I discovered my favorite do-ahead trick: parbaking the pizza shell. Not only does this enable me to easily assemble multiple pizzas before guests arrive, but it also improves the texture of the crust.

You can parbake crusts and freeze them as is, or you can top them with sauce and cheese and freeze the completely assembled pizzas.

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Here’s how to do it:

  • Make your favorite pizza dough, or purchase a good-quality pizza dough from the supermarket, selecting a brand that is additive free (with only flour, water, yeast, and olive oil).
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Roll out the dough to a desired thinness, using flour to keep it from sticking. Place it on parchment paper and then slip it onto a baking sheet, or lightly oil a baking sheet and place the dough directly on it.
  • Bake 3-6 minutes, or until the dough is slightly puffy and the top is dry to the touch but still very pale.
  • Cool the pizza shell on a wire rack.

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  • When at room temperature, wrap in plastic wrap then foil. Freeze the empty shell up to a few months. Defrost before assembling your pizza. Alternatively, assemble the pizza with sauce, cheese, and toppings and freeze uncovered.When it is frozen, wrap it in plastic wrap then foil and return to the freezer.
  • Cook the pizza at 450 degrees until golden brown. If I’m not cooking the pizza on a pizza stone but rather on a baking sheet, I like to use tongs and slip the pizza directly onto the oven rack for a few minutes before it is done cooking to brown the bottom of the crust.

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