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Make-Ahead Pizza Dough

For many families, Friday night is pizza night. As often as it’s planned, it’s a fall-back dinner solution after a long and exhausting week, when no one feels like cooking. With a little planning ahead, a freezer full of fresh balls of pizza dough will ensure homemade pizza on Friday night, with next to no effort, in less time than it takes for delivery. Just pull a ball of dough from the freezer in the morning, and you’ll be ready to go at dinnertime. Roll it out, lay it on a heavy cornmeal or flour-dusted baking sheet or pizza stone, spread with your choice of toppings and bake at 450F until golden and bubbly.

Make-Ahead Pizza Dough

2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups warm water (105° to 115° F)
pinch sugar
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and add a pinch of salt. Let it stand for 5 minutes, or until it’s foamy; stir until the yeast is dissolved. (If it does nothing, toss it out and buy fresh yeast!)

Add half the flour along with the olive oil and salt and stir until you have a sticky mass. Add the remaining flour, half a cup at a time, until you have a kneadable dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Lightly coat a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it over to coat with oil. Cover loosely with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place for an hour or two, until doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down and divide into four pieces. Use right away to make pizza, or wrap tightly in plastic (a sturdy sealable freezer bag works well) and freeze for up to 6 months. To thaw, remove from the freezer, open the bag, and place in a bowl in the fridge, covered loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel, for about 8 hours, or overnight. Makes enough dough for 4 pizzas.

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