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We're having friends over and I'd like to make 3 or 4 pizzas. I'm considering stretching out the dough and put on the toppings ahead of time, say an hour ahead of when I pop them in the oven. How long can the pizzas sit on the counter in this pre-oven state?

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4 Answers 4

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You can stage pan pizzas (chicago style, or pizza hut style) for up to four hours as long as you keep them covered. You can stage a stretched dough for up to an hour and a half between two pieces of wax paper. However, you need to take the time into consideration when proofing your dough so that you don't get blown dough as that will not be delicious. You should not sauce the crusts or top them as pre-saucing will change how your dough cooks in the oven.

If the dough forms a harder crust/ dries out, you should consider tossing it as it will not result in good pizza after cooking.

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When you say "stretched dough", is this specific for pan pizza or for regular pizza? –  Neil Fein Oct 3 '10 at 15:42
    
as in hand stretched/new york style. Basically, the kind that you build on a peel and put directly on a pizza stone. @neil –  sarge_smith Oct 3 '10 at 20:28
    
I'm trying this right now with a stretched pizza. The dough is on parchment paper on my pizza peel, with waxed paper on top of it. Will report on how this works. –  Neil Fein Oct 7 '10 at 22:28
    
@neil if it dries out to much for you with just the paper, I know someplaces use a little olive oil on the dough, but I never have bothered –  sarge_smith Oct 8 '10 at 1:25
    
@sarge_smith - I stretched out the pizza 2 hours before putting sauce and cheese on it and baking it. (I was aiming for a bit over an hour, but the company came later than expected.) It does suffer a bit -- the dough loses a bit of taste -- but not very much at all. I'd say that no more than an hour ahead of time would work just fine, and this works very well. –  Neil Fein Oct 8 '10 at 2:34

I wouldn't recommend that; the dough may well overrise and poop out on you, not to mention get soggy from the fillings. Your best bet is to just get the dough rolled out into balls and the fillings all fully prepared in separate containers and the oven preheated. Then, say 10 minutes before you want to fire them, roll out the first one and top it, and do each of the succeeding ones while the previous one is in the oven. Give your guests a drink and an appetizer and they won't mind that you are busy in the kitchen for a few minutes.

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I learned at a local culinary school that you have max one minute after you top a pizza to get it in the hottest oven available before the crust (of a thin crust, specifically) is adversely affected. –  justkt Oct 3 '10 at 20:20

We always bake our crusts for 6-8 minutes before we top them. The pre-bake can be done well ahead (and you can even freeze the pre-baked crust) and then topped and baked for 6-10 minutes when you're ready. If you have all the ingredients ready for topping, it can be a very efficient process.

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Interesting... maybe I'll try this one out. –  Neil Fein Oct 3 '10 at 17:58
    
Agreed -- the pre-bake helps as most home kitchens can't get to the high temps that a dedicated pizza oven can; the pre-bake can be done in advance and easily held for an hour or more in this state. –  Joe Oct 3 '10 at 19:59
    
We do both baking stages at 500 degrees F, but we dream of a brick oven.... –  Rebekah Oct 4 '10 at 0:54

I would store prepared ingredients in separate boxes and 3 or 4 balls of dough in the fridge. Then just before dinner time I would let friends have fun by preparing their own pizza by choosing exactly what they want on.

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Agreed on the preparing the toppings in advance ... but I wouldn't keep the dough in the fridge ... I find it a pain to work with straight from the fridge (it won't stretch out right, it tries to spring back on you). –  Joe Oct 3 '10 at 20:06
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I forgot to mention to bring the dough out of the fridge about half an hour before working it. –  mouviciel Oct 4 '10 at 5:06

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