I want to freeze unbaked dinner rolls. Can I do it after the first rising or the shaping or the second rising or do i have to partially bake them to prevent killing the yeast?
Yeast can definitely survive in the freezer, yet timing for the final rising will be altered by unfreezing.
After several attempts, I found it best to freeze viennoiseries such as croissants, pains au chocolat (croissants leavened puff pastry), pains aux raisins (danish leavened puff pastry) and brioches suisses (small brioches filled with chocolate chips and crème pâtissière) after shaping and before the final rise and coating.
I leave them at room temperature at 10-11pm, directly from the freezer and brush them with dorure (blended eggs) in the morning (6am) while the oven is pre-heating. (I also freeze blended eggs in ice cubes and unfreeze the proper quantity for every batch). This works for a week, not that the yeast dies afterwards but it matches the family consumption rate of these viennoiseries.
My experience dictates that dough should be frozen once it is developed but not proofed (after kneading, stretching or stand-mixing) so that it is ready to rise and be shaped after thawing. The recipe that I first followed recommended that the dough be smooshed flat to ensure it freezes quickly.
As to whether you can shape a loaf prior to freezing, I am not a good resource. I have always shaped after freezing, even with store bought frozen dough.
Edit: I should mention that there does seem to be a shelf life. If the dough is kept in the freezer for too long, it will not come back to life.
I do this every week but with breakfast buns. I mix up my dough, do the kneading and first rise, then shape and freeze immediately. Then, every evening, I take the frozen shaped bun dough out of the freezer, put it in the baking pan, and let it rise overnight. The next morning (6:30am), I bake it. I've been doing this for several years.
It works great, but only for relatively fresh dough. Dough that's been in the freezer more than, say, two or three weeks takes longer to rise after the thaw.