The single most important component of the pie, the pizza crust, is the foundation of the pizza itself. Not to mention the obvious, the pizza crust is the vehicle for which the carefully selected and paired toppings are thoughtfully spread, baked, served and finally consumed. As it is important to the whole pie, the pizza crust must take on, so to speak, the role of the supporting actor, be every bit as good, but never over shadow the lead of the toppings. There becomes a delicate balance the crust must take on, to have a character all its own that will, in the end, complement and even bring forward the toppings that adorn it. A great wood-fired pizza crust should have slight char marks (flavor), bubbly on the ‘cornicione’ (the end crust) be thin in the center and have a crisp but tender and chewy texture. A sign of a hand stretched and prepared pizza crust is its non-symmetrical, almost dysfunctional shape, each pizza, like the snowflake, never the same shape or dimension.
Before launching Brava! we knew the quality we wanted our pizza crust to exude. Getting there, achieving this end result that is the Brava! pizza crust, took several bags of test flour, hours of precise tinkering, sweat, some tears and over all determination. We arrived – and by all accounts our hard work has paid off. But getting to a great dough recipe does not guarantee the same success in the final product. To achieve consistency in the crust and ensure that every time you bite into a Brava! pizza it is always the same great experience, several factors and conditions must be managed precisely. You see, dough and more specifically, yeast is a living, breathing entity – it likes certain, most specific, conditions. If these conditions, for instance, temperature or humidity vary and not even widely, the dough will be all together different in many different ways. Now – consider that Brava! is for all intents and purposes an outdoor cafe and operating year-round in Colorado’s glorious, but schizophrenic, weather. Consistency is all but lost. We do not have the benefit of operating in a climate controlled space. We’ve thrown pizzas in all types of weather – below freezing, above three digits, wind, rain and snow. And, in each of these conditions we have successfully managed to keep our yeast happy and thriving, resulting in a pizza crust that is just the right balance of crisp to chewy texture with complementing char flavor.
So, the next time you bite into a pizza, any pizza, pay particular attention to the crust. What impression is it leaving with you – because the crust is the true signature – the pure expression of the chef and pizzaiolo.