Great Pizza from a pre-made Crust? That’s Amore!

Turn these quality pizza doughs into your own little kitchen secret

by Iain Ilich

Pizza Dough

Making excellent pizza dough at home takes time, skill and patience. While it’s fun to be able to tinker and perfect your own from-scratch dough recipe over years of experimentation, even the most diehard bakers can find themselves wanting a shortcut in a pinch. Whether you’ve got last-minute guests coming over tomorrow night or you want to have something on hand in the freezer for the family, you don’t have to resort to popping an industrial rising-crust pepperoni pie in the oven. There’s a better way.

The Italian Centre Shops and Bonjour Bakery have found the perfect middle road: handmade frozen pizza dough balls. They take care of the mixing, kneading and portioning, and you take care of forming it into a pizza, topping it and baking it. It’s like having an extra pair of expert hands in the kitchen, and an extra hour or two of prep time that you don’t have to budget for.

The Italian Centre has been selling their balls of pizza dough to home cooks since 2013, which is long enough to become a well-known semi-secret in both Edmonton and Calgary pizza communities.

Depending when you get to your local shop, you can find either fresh or frozen dough, sold in balls large enough to make one traditional-style Italian thin-crust pizza. All three Edmonton locations stock the dough, as does the Calgary shop, though fresh supply is limited to what they make that day. Too late for the day’s supply of fresh? Check the freezer for their four-packs of frozen dough balls. Just know that you’ll have to adjust your prep times to allow the dough to thaw before you use it.

There’s an air of mystery to these dough balls, as there’s no information on the packaging to guide you in your pizza journey. There are no recommended baking times, temperatures or methods for how to turn the dough into supper. If you’re used to making and using your own pizza dough, you’ll know roughly what to do. But for first-timers, it can be daunting.

To help clear up any confusion, our friends at the Italian Centre have provided their own recommended method to form the dough into pizzas at home. Clip out the method and stick it on your fridge, or take a photo to keep it handy for when you need it.

If you want to try the product before you buy a ball of fresh dough in a baggie, the dough used in the Italian Centre cafes to make their range of pizzas is the same dough they sell to customers. Between the shops, they go through hundreds of dough balls a day, yet they can still run out of the fresh stuff. It’s just that good.

While you may not think of pizza when you think traditional French bakery, Strathcona’s Bonjour Bakery has their own unique take on pizza dough. Vive la différence!

Bonjour sells its dough frozen in bags, each weighing around 500 grams. While the dough costs more than at the Italian Centre, you’re also getting twice as much, so the price is comparable. It’s a different type of dough, with a different taste profile that bakes up beautifully and can handle loads of toppings.

There’s enough dough in each bag to make either one thick-crust 12-inch pizza or two thinner-style pizzas like you’d get by using the Italian Centre dough. The process for turning the dough into a pizza is much the same as with the Italian Centre dough. See below for the method.

Quick Tips for Working with Fresh and Frozen Dough

At the Italian Centre, you can buy your dough balls either fresh or frozen, depending on what’s available. They’re both the same, though the frozen dough needs to thaw before it can be used.

If you’ve bought fresh dough in baggies, you can either use the dough right away (or within a few days if you keep it in the fridge), or you can pop it into the freezer in the individual baggies for later use.

If you bought your dough as a multi-pack of frozen balls, lightly oil some ziplock bags, place one frozen ball of dough in each, then keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.

If you’re starting with frozen dough (either from the Italian Centre or Bonjour Bakery), transfer it from the freezer to the fridge in the plastic baggie. You’ll need to do this the night before you want to make pizza to give it time to thaw.

Making Pizza with Italian Centre Shop’s Dough

This is the basic method for using the fresh dough from the Italian Centre Shops, straight from south side store manager Camilla Tagliente.

Dust your tabletop and hands with flour.

Take the dough from the bag by ripping the bag open and turning the dough ball out onto the floured tabletop.

Shape into the desired size by using a rolling pin and/or your hands. Ensure the table and hands are well floured. Suggested size is 10-12 inches for a thin-crust pizza.

For traditional Italian thin crust pizza, add toppings and go to step. Or, for a thick crust pizza (you may need to combine 2 balls of dough), lightly dust the top with flour and gently cover the dough round with a clean tea towel. Let rest for 15 mins, then add toppings.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400ºF, or for longer if you like it crispy. For the thicker pizza, bake for 20 minutes or to desired crispiness. Ovens vary, so that may change the cooking time.

Camilla and the bakery manager Angelo Antonucci share their favourite pizza topping combinations.

Camilla’s Favourite Pizza Toppings

  • tomato sauce (strained or Pavoncella Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped)
  • anchovies
  • capers
  • olives (black or kalamata)
  • tomatoes (fresh cherry or sundried)
  • fresh garlic
  • fior di latte (fresh mozzarella)
  • fresh Italian parsley for garnish
  • chili flakes (optional)

Put the above ingredients on the pizza as is and bake it, then garnish with parsley after baking. Or, sauté the above ingredients in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil as a sauce, then put on your pizza dough, add the mozzarella and bake. Garnish with the parsley. Either way, delicious!

Angelo’s Favourite Pizza Toppings

  • Pavoncella Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • garlic
  • salt
  • dry oregano
  • fior di latte mozzarella (fresh mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella)
  • fresh basil
  • extra virgin olive oil

Make the pizza sauce by combining the tomatoes, garlic, salt and oregano. Top the dough with the sauce, then top with cheese. Bake as per the Italian Centre dough instructions, then garnish with fresh basil and drizzle with your favorite extra virgin olive oil.

Method for making pizza from Bonjour Bakery’s dough

Because there’s about twice as much dough in the bag from Bonjour, you can choose to either use it all for one delicious thick-crust pizza, or split it into two balls once it’s thawed and make it into two thin-crust pizzas. The cooking times below assume you’re making a single pizza with one bag of dough.

Transfer the dough from the freezer to the fridge the day before you want to make the pizza. Keep it in the plastic bag.

On baking day, take the dough out of the plastic bag and set it on a lightly oiled patch of counter for 30 minutes to let it warm up. (If you’re going to split the batch into two balls for smaller pizzas, do it before the rest on the counter.)

Form the dough into a pizza roughly 12-inches across, and place it in an oiled pizza pan, then let it rise again for another 30 minutes before topping and baking.

Bake in the oven at 425ºF for around 20-25 minutes. Your oven may vary. The more and heavier toppings you add, the longer it will take to cook.

Iain Ilich has been writing about food for more than a decade for the Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, Dose and Vue Weekly. He also blogs about curious grocery items at His go-to homemade pizza is Margherita, but he’s also a shameless Hawaiian apologist.