The Quickest Way to Thaw Frozen Pizza Dough Without Ruining It

Photo:  foodstck (Shutterstock)
Photo: foodstck (Shutterstock)

Pizza for dinner always sounds like a great idea, until I come home and realize someone never put the dough in the fridge to thaw. Alright, it was me, but never mind that. Don’t change your dinner plans, and don’t get the microwave involved. The quickest way to safely thaw frozen pizza dough is with a cold water bath.

You don’t have to worry about rampant bacterial growth while thawing pizza dough, but the is another risk you have to mitigate when thawing yeast doughs: over-proofing. Leaving frozen dough on the counter for a couple hours, or worse, thawing it in the microwave, will unevenly warm the dough. This can result in some sections of the dough thawing and moving on to the proofing stage, while others are still frozen, or just coming up to room temperature. By the time the center of the dough has become pliable, you may have spent much of the yeasts’ power before it even hit the oven.

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If you’re good at planning ahead, the easiest, chillest way to thaw frozen pizza dough is overnight in the fridge. It’s hands-off, and the dough can slowly return to a pliable state without fear of proofing and blowing all that leavening power. That being said, the fridge-thaw takes eight to ten hours. When you’re short on time, the ways to warm something up without applying aggressive heat are severely limited. That’s where the cold water bath comes in. Since water is a better conductor of heat than air, this chilly dip in the pool will thaw the dough notably faster than the fridge ever could. This goes for frozen meats as well.

Wrap the frozen ball of dough in a plastic bag and push the air out before you tie it off. If your dough is already in a plastic bag then you’re one step ahead. Forcing the air out before you seal the end will keep the dough from floating in the water bath. Fill a large bowl with cool tap water. The bowl should be big enough for the dough to sit inside. Put the bag of dough in the water, and leave the tail of the bag outside the bowl to prevent water from getting in there. Sit a small pot or another bowl on top of the dough and fill it with water. This will act as a weight to keep the dough from floating. A one pound disk of pizza dough will thaw in about 45 minutes. If you’re thawing more than that, add 15-45 minutes to that time. Occasionally come around and prod the dough to see how it’s thawing. If you’re having trouble keeping it submerged, just give it a flip every 15 minutes. Once the dough is pliable through to the center, dry the bag and use your dough.

This cold water bath technique will ensure the outside of the dough does not begin proofing significantly faster than the center of the dough before it’s ready to use. Keep that in mind before you yourself, “Why don’t I use boiling water to make it thaw even faster?” Remember the goal is to keep the dough from heating unevenly. Use the 45 minutes of thaw time to mise en place your toppings and get the oven preheated. Then once your dough’s ready to sling, you’ll be ready for it.

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