Bread and pizza questions

Homemade wheat bread

As usual, I am rather behind in answering email! If you have written and your question isn't answered here, don't worry! I'm getting there. :) Thanks for your patience. :)

Janice asked,

I was just wondering if I can freeze bread dough? I've just started baking bread from scratch and my family loves it, but ylove it best when it is freshly hot. Right now I'm making white bread because that's all we'll eat. Anytime during the process, can I freeze the dough? I'm using my kitchen aid mixer and by hand, no bread machine.

Janice, thanks for asking! I think freshly made bread dough can be frozen and thawed and baked later, but I have never done it. I'm hoping there's a reader who can answer your question for me! :) Has anyone done this? :) We like fresh, warm homemade bread, so I often warm the leftovers in the oven for the next meal. :)

Wendy wrote with a similar question:

I am going to try to make the pizza dough tonight from your video. I was wondering if I could make the dough, let it sit and then refrigerate until dinner time. I don't want to affect the taste or texture, so I thought I would ask.

Again, I've never done this myself. However, the pizza dough recipe is pretty flexible and still tastes great. For example, on occasion I have made the dough and let it rise, but for whatever reason was unable to make it into a pizza crust within an hour or so. (There is an optional first-rise for about 60 minutes, which I sometimes do, sometimes don't!) Even after setting for an hour and a half, I just punched it down and made it into pizza crust. It tasted great!

One thing I will mention, though, is that if your dough is cold (from the refrigerator) when you press it onto the pan, you should let the crust set in a warm place for a bit (15-30 minutes) before baking. Otherwise, your dough will go into the oven cold and won't rise much (if any) while baking. :)

Lin wrote,

I have a bread machine which I haven't used in years and I've never used the dough setting. Will the machine let me know when it's ready? And where do I restart the directions? Do I take the dough out and then put it in a bowl to rise?

Also, I need to know more about a pizza pan to buy.  What have you found to work the best?
Hi, Lin! :) Yes, your bread machine should beep when the dough setting is complete. Usually the dough setting includes the initial kneading and a first rise (in the machine). The cycle takes about 90 minutes.
You can leave the pizza dough in the machine for the entire cycle, then knead (to remove air bubbles) and press onto you pizza pan and continue with the recipe. Or, you can remove the dough any time during the cycle (after it's a nice, elastic texture -- usually at least 20 minutes into the cycle) and press it onto your pizza pan. If I'm short on time, I remove the dough after about 20 minutes, turn off the bread machine, and continue with the pizza.
Pizza pan preference varies according to who you asked -- but since you asked me, I'll say that we're presently really liking the non-stick round pizza pans with holes in the bottoms. If you're using a thicker pan (steel, or stainless steel) you may want to bake the pizza on a lower rack setting in the oven so the crust gets dark enough. But ovens vary, preferences vary. Anyone else want to chime in on their choice of pizza pan? :)
Another email from Lin:
Do you think your pizza dough could be made using whole wheat flour?  And your other recipes...like your chicken pot pie?
Yes, the pizza dough can be made using whole wheat flour! You may need to increase the water by a couple tablespoons though. I find that whole wheat flour seems to absorb more liquid than all-purpose flour, cup for cup. Maybe because it's heavier? :) If you're making the dough in your bread machine, it'll be fine if the dough is a little sticky. Just rub some butter on your hands before pressing it onto the pizza pan. :)
Most of the recipes here would probably work fine with all whole wheat flour, and I think pretty much all of them would work great with half whole wheat flour (and half all-purpose flour). The texture and taste might change some. Also, I'm not sure if whole wheat flour can be substituted for white flour when used to thicken gravies or sauces. Does anyone know about that? Thanks in advance! :)

Comments

You can definitely freeze bread dough! I have had success freezing many different types of dough--the process is easy. Just mix up your dough, knead as usual, and let rise the first time until just barely double. Then shape into loaves or rolls and stick them immediately into the freezer without letting them rise again. I freeze dough loaves directly in ziploc bags (don't worry if the dough gets a little squished, you can straighten that out when you thaw it out). I freeze roll dough right on the baking sheet, and when the rolls are frozen I transfer them into a large ziploc bag.

To bake: remove the dough from the freezer and place in the fridge overnight or allow several hours at room temperature to thaw. Rolls can go back onto a baking sheet, and the loaves can be transferred into loaf pans when thawed enough to remove from the ziploc bag. The important thing is to keep the dough well covered with greased plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out. When the dough has risen as desired, then bake it the way you usually would.

We love to use frozen dough for pizzas, pull-aparts, and just plain bread!!

For some fun ideas on what to do with frozen bread or rolls, go to www.rhodesbread.com
(Name brand frozen rolls are too expensive for me, so I just make my own!)

Roslyn

Roslyn, thanks for sharing! I will have to try this sometime. :)

When you mentioned using the frozen dough for pizza, does that mean you thaw it and then roll/press it into a crust, do you freeze it already rolled/flat, or do you freeze a completely made-up pizza that just hasn't been baked? :)

I can't seem to find the recipe for the great looking Homemade Wheat bread in your most recent post. Is it on here somewhere and I'm just missing it?
THANKS!

It's not here yet... I'll try to get it typed up and posted in the next few days, okay? :) Thanks for your patience! :)

Can't wait! :o)

As a Pampered Chef consultant, I HAVE to fulfill my duty to rave on the benefits of cooking on stoneware! It cooks evenly (even in the middle - no soggy crust!) and is almost impossible to burn things on (ok, my mom baked her cookies an extra HOUR and they turned black, but you get the idea). The secret is that air can flow through the stone and moisture does not get trapped. I think that pan that you use, Tammy, with the holes, would probably do the same thing - but I haven't researched that as much as I have stones. :-) Also, stones are rediculously easy to clean, just scrape them off and you're done. They develop a non-stick surface that rivals Teflon - and you can use metal utensils on them! (Don't use soap - will make your food taste like Dawn). Don't have to worry about them being germy- anything that bakes at 350 degrees will come out sterilized.

*Stepping down off soap box* :-P

Beth (I was the one with the whole wheat flour substition question a few days ago)

Thanks for sharing, Beth :) I think pizza stones might just be something I have to see "in action" to fully understand. :) Maybe someday! :D I do have a stoneware 9x13 dish, and it's wonderful! It was my first (and only!) piece of stoneware! :)

We use whole wheat flour in gravies/sauces all the time. It works great, but does give a coarser texture and slightly darker color to the food. For some things - like chicken pot pie gravy, for instance - this is usually perfectly fine. But when making a fruit sauce or something similar you might prefer white flour.

Hope that helps. :-)

I use whole wheat flour in my sauces and gravies. My husband and I don't seem to mind it but my son who is anything but a picky eater doesn't like it, I think because it has a stronger taste them white flour.

Shari

Yes, you can freeze pizza dough, bread dough, cookie doughs, just be sure to wrap them well. I make my pizza dough and divide it and leave the fridge anywhere from 2 hrs to 2 days (it gets nice and sourdoughy after a day or so and we love it that way). Most pizza places proof thier doughs overnight before they use them anyway (dh used to manage a pizza place when we first married so I make the dough and he does the rest!) just be sure to keep them in the fridge (slows down the yeast).
You can pretty much use whole wheat in place of white flour in anything (may give it a nuttier taste that my kids like) in breads and pizza crusts I have to add either extra yeast or vital wheat gluten to help it to raise.

Mary in getting warmer Ohio

We also FREEZE OUR DOUGH. I am due any day and didn't want to go back to store bought bread during my recovery time...knowing that I wouldn't get in there to make our 2 loaves a week. I don't care for freezing the finished loaves b/c they don't hold up when they are being made into sandwiches. My bread has 3 total rises before baking and I also freeze after the first rise. I don't shape though, just throw one loaf portion into a greased ziplock and into the freezer it goes. I have had great success with this. I thaw in the frig or on the counter--or both. It starts to rise after it gets to room temp which can sometimes take a while. I have about 11 loaves in the freezer for us to enjoy during my recovery.

I posted about this on my blog a while ago: http://organized-wanna-be.blogspot.com/2006/11/works-for-me-wednesday.html

I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my pampered chef pizza stone. I have the rect. one and it is perfect for our pizza crusts. My recipe makes 3 of that size. I have tried many others (pans and recipes) and this is my fav!

http://organized-wanna-be.blogspot.com/2006/11/our-favorite-pizza-crusts.html

We also add WW flour to any recipe that calls for flour to thicken.

I sure am enjoying this blog. Thanks for all the great posts, recipes, and tips!!! I think once I get better I'm going to try your pizza crusts.

We love to bake our pizza and some breads on stoneware too, only the cost of a pizza stone was prohibitive so I bought UNGLAZED, food-safe, quarry tiles for about $.25 a piece at a home depot and that's what we've been using for a couple of years now. We use them both above and below the pizza and it's like baking in a tandori clay oven. You do have to preheat the tiles in the oven for a bit to get them the correct temp.

Here is a site with pictures, only our tiles are terra cotta colored. http://www.sourdoughhome.com/bakingstones.html

I'm not a Pampered Chef consultant, but I do have a pizza stone and love it! Our families a lot bigger now than when I got it, so I probably need another one... it's fabulous for any baking - cookies, pizza, biscuits, etc. I used to have their 9x13 casserole but it got broken. I think I cried!

I have heard a frugal alternative is to simply get some unglazed stoneware from a kitchen counter store (you can buy tiles) and season them like you would a cast iron pan, but I haven't ever tried this.

Mama Says

Abigail and Shari -- thanks for the info about thickening gravy with whole wheat flour! I will be trying that one next time I make something like gravy :)

Mary, thanks for your comment! I think there are several different kinds of whole wheat flour, and they may work differently. Mine rises fine, but it's made from white wheat berries. And yes, it has been cold here lately, hasn't it? :) Today felt like spring, at 40 degrees :D

organized-wanna-be, thanks for sharing! Good job on getting so much bread made up ahead of time! You'll enjoy it soon. :) Congratulations, by the way!! :D

Dana, thanks for that link! I have been to that sourdough site before-- very nice website, I just haven't tried making sourdough bread... yet! :) When you say you bake pizza with tiles above and below, do you mean that you have tiles on both oven racks and you bake the pizza on the bottom rack? I'm trying to picture pizza being smashed between tiles as it cooks ;)

Also, if the tiles are already in your oven, how do you transfer the pizza to the tiles, since they're already hot? Do you take them out, put the pizza on, and then put back in? :) Your frugal stoneware idea is very appealing. ;)

Also, did you season yours, like the commenter below you suggested?

Mama says, thanks for sharing! I love my one stoneware dish (it's a 9x13) but I am always afraid it'll break! It seems so fragile, especially against my porcelain kitchen sink! :D

Ha ha, I too got a vivid image of squished pizza! Actually, I cover the lowest rack (where the pizza will be) and the rack above it, with a layer of tiles, heat them up so they are nice and hot, then transfer the pizza (which has been prepared on a piece of parchment paper) by picking up the sides of the parchment paper and putting the entire thing onto the bottom rack of tiles.
The tiles on the bottom rack stay in my oven at all times. You can place pans and cookie sheets directly on them and it doesn't hurt them.
I never seasoned my tiles, I only scrape them with a small wooden spatula, or wipe them with a damp cloth when they are cool. It's important NEVER to wash them with soap as the porous texture will absorb it and impart a soapy flavor into your food.
I used to use cornmeal under my breads and my pizza, but it would eventually burn and be difficult to clean up, so I've switched to parchment paper which I can re-use many times before throwing away.
I would like to invest in a "pizza peel" which is an enormous spatula used for transfering pizza and breads, but I've not come accross one at a yard sale yet.

I have a pizza stone as well as a non-stick pizza pan with the little holes in the bottom, and I infinitely prefer the stone! The crust baked on the one with holes is soggier than the one on the stone, and I don't think it has as much texture.

Dana, I don't have a pizza peel either (they seemed way to expensive to buy new!), but I've had good success using a cookie sheet that has only one side (for holding on to). I dust it with cornmeal (to keep the dough from sticking), prepare my pizza on it, and then slide the pizza off onto the hot stone. The first couple of times I ended up with an oddly shaped, or messed up pizza, but now I seem to have gotten the hang of it.

-Abutton-

I thought I had seen a question here about where to get bread conditioner, but I can't find it. I just bought flour made especially for bread - Pillsbury Bread Flour, and I noticed that it already contained bread conditioner. I thought I'd share this because it saves a little money - makes the bread last longer, and there is no need to buy additional conditioner.

Dana and Abutton, thanks for the additional information about pizzas/pizza stones! :)

Alexandra, does the flour list what ingredients are in the dough conditioner that's added? I was thinking that "dough conditioner" was any combination of conditioning ingredients... :)

Hi Tammy - I found your receipe for the whole wheat bread, the first loaf i baked came out very tasty, but I felt it was a bit dry and crumbly ie., it left lot of bread crums when i cut a slice... otherwise the shape was intact. To the second loaf, i added 3 tbs of vital wheat gluten flour, and it was definitely better in texture and more elastic, but still the top somehow seems to break apart when i try to cut it. The one thing I did different this time was for the second rise, i heated the oven to abt 200 and put the down to rise in the oven for 10 minutes, and as soon as i started the dough about the rim of the pan, i turned it on to bake... could this cause the lost of shape on the top.... As I start cutting, the slice cuts up pretty well down.. but the first 1 inch is kinda breaking apart. any idea?

And you receipe is very good and perfect, i never had success in making yeast breads before.. but this year after i baked your recipe i am never going to buy another loaf from a store. Thanks very much

What you describe is similar (I think) to what my bread was doing when we moved to Seattle from Ohio... I adjusted the recipe (see the additional notes on my wheat bread recipe) and was able to correct the problem... but not without trial and error. Perhaps try using 50% white flour and 50% whole wheat flour for a bit and see how it goes? Sometimes success has to be met half way, I guess. :)

Butter the tops of your loves as soon as you take them out of the oven and then cover them with a light towel until cool

I would suggest that you stay away from adding any but the most basic ingredients - preservatives are never a good thing - adjust liquids by the tsp if the bread is too dense, starting with oil and then alternate water. Often times the density is impacted by not allowing enough rise before baking...try warming the bowl before mixing to keep all ingredients as close to that majic 110 degrees as possible.

Dough enhancers/conditioners are not the same as preservatives. :) If you read my husband's article about natural dough conditioners, he explains how everything beyond yeast, flour, and water is an "enhancer" of some sort. :) Why not use things like powdered vitamin C or ground ginger to make a fluffier loaf of bread, if that's the texture one prefers? :)

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