Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough

I’ve been holding off on doing a review of Trader Joe’s Pizza dough for a while because I am a pizza freak! We eat pizza at least once or twice a week. I mostly make pizza from scratch, but many times we use the Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough in the fridge section at Trader Joe’s.

Anyway, I make a lot of pizza. I usually make my pizza from scratch based on the dough calculators at www.pizzamaking.com  where everything is weighed out to the gram instead of measuring cups. It makes for consistent results. I usually make two balls enough for two large 16″ sized pizzas. I make a pepperoni for the kids and an adult pizza with whatever I dreamed up that day. Becky loves pizza with potatoes and eggs on it and sometime we even make breakfast pizzas with bacon and eggs on them!

I think I have about 5 different pizza stones. I used those round 16″ ceramic ones for a while, then a friend told me about the Old Stone Oven 16-Inch Baking Stone which I loved for many years. It was much bigger than traditional stones and covered the whole rack in my oven. That was until I dropped the damn thing and it cracked in half. It was well worth the money and the years of service I got out of it. Then last year Becky bought me a granite baking stone from Williams Sonoma and I think I finally found a stone that can give me that crispy bottom at a lower temperature because granite conducts heat very efficiently. I used to think that I had to crank the heat up as high as I could get it but in a traditional oven, I don’t think that’s the key. (BTW, I have a dream to build a backyard pizza oven some day). I also have a Metal Pizza Peel and an Epicurean Pizza Peel which I really like too! I mainly use the Epicurean but sometimes I need to get a pizza that has stuck itself to the stone and the metal one is much better at doing that!

OK, every so often I am in a pinch and the kids want pizza, but I don’t want to make the frozen pizzas from Trader Joe’s. They are good, but nearly as good as the ones you bake from scratch IMHO. Buying fresh dough from Trader Joe’s is a good alternative, but there are a few things you need to know to make a good pizza from Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough:

1. There are three pizza doughs they sell: plain, herbed and whole wheat. I mostly use the plain. I’ve tried the herbed and the whole wheat and thought they were pretty good, but not nearly as good as the plain.

2. These are sold in the fridge section and are quite cold when you get them. I find that working the dough is much harder if it hasn’t warmed up and risen a little more. Generally what I do is take the dough out of the bag and either put it in a big bowl and let it rise a bit and warm up or put it on the cutting board with a towel over it. Once it’s come up to room temperature the dough is much easier to work with. This might take almost and hour, but is well worth it.

3. One bag of pizza dough is too big for one pizza and too small for two 16″ pizzas. If you stretch it out pretty thin it makes a huge pizza. One bag of dough will probably make two nice 12″ round pizzas and that might be enough for you, but with two growing boys I need to buy too bags of dough, but at about $1.25 it’s not a huge expense.

4. The dough is variable. Sometimes it is almost impossible to work with, impossible to stretch out. Then other times it’s really wet with too much moisture in the dough. Most of the time it’s just fine and if you follow my guidelines, pretty easy to work with. I do find that the whole wheat dough can get a little harder to stretch out

You may wonder if the dough tastes any good and I would say the flavor of the pizza dough is pretty darn good! What is happening is that the longer you let dough (to a certain point) rise, it will develop more flavor and I can imagine they make the dough at least a day ahead of time and maybe longer, but that’s fine. As long as it’s in the fridge section it will slowly rise developing more flavor. I would not keep the dough longer than a day at home.

That brings up another thing. Pizza dough freezes excellently! If you don’t think you are going to use it or you just want to stock up. Just throw it in the freezer! I should keep for a month or so. You just want to avoid freezer burn. When you are ready to use it, just take it out of the freezer and you can zap it on defrost in the microwave for a few minutes to thaw it out a bit, don’t over do it or it will start to cook. Or you can just pull it out of the freezer and put it in a bowl or leave it in the bag for a while and let it slowly thaw out.

My typical pizza is 100% Trader Joe’s ingredients. I use quattro fromaggio as my cheese of choice, then use the organic marinara or the Arrabbiata sauce as my pizza sauce. It’s not nearly as sweet as their pizza sauce. Then I use a variety of meats but mostly the salami or calabarese salami which has a little heat. Top with a little oregeno and you are ready to go!

Here is a couple of books I really like on the subject: Pizza: More than 60 Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pizza and My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home

All in all, not bad dough but not the best. There are some issues but it’s way better than premade crusts or frozen pizza. Not as good as my home made dough, but only by a little. I am going to rate this Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough an 8 Bells!

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