Dough is key to good pizza
PRESCOTT - Forget choosing between thin crust and thick crust.
At Bill's Pizza in downtown Prescott, the only decision customers must make is what toppings they want on their pizza.
Chef Bill Tracy keeps things simple, healthy and delicious. He experimented with 400 crust formulations before hitting on his sourdough crust recipe.
"We only make thin crust. It is so healthy, I don't see any need for a thick crust," Tracy said.
He said the sourdough crust has a low glycemic index, making it low in carbohydrates. He uses pure olive oil and half of the flour in the dough is finely ground and imported from Italy.
Making a pizza at Bill's Pizza begins with the crust. Tracy starts with one cup of sourdough and keeps between 200 and 300 pounds going all the time.
Tracy mixes the dough and then lets it rise overnight in a cooler.
"Sourdough is slow-rising. That allows the dough to develop more flavor," he said.
Tracy removes the dough from the cooler and lets it warm up to room temperature. He hand-shapes the dough into various sizes on a floured marble table.
"We start off by making a circle and then expand it. We don't hand-toss because we have more control if we hand-shape it. Also, our dough has a high moisture content that makes it more difficult to handle," Tracy said. "Sometimes we hand- stretch it. The edges and the middle of the crust must be the same thickness."
Tracy said the reason the edge of the crust is higher than the middle is because the crust has nothing on the edge to stop it from rising.
Tracy places the crust on a pizza screen. It is ready for sauce, cheese and toppings.
Tracy said a company in California makes the sauce from vine-ripened tomatoes.
He adds a full pound of grated mozzarella cheese on an 18-inch pizza and a variety of fresh toppings onto the cheese before the pizza heads to the oven.
Tracy bakes his pizzas in a brick oven at temperatures between 500 degrees and 550 degrees.
"Most pizza shops use conveyor ovens which cook in half the time and eliminate one employee," he said.
Tracy places the pizza in the front of the brick oven and rotates it from side to side and from front to back.
"We keep rotating the pizza in the oven, checking for hot spots. We want the pizza to cook evenly," he said.
Each pizza bakes for about 12 minutes. Tracy removes the pizza from the oven and places it onto a pan with a mesh crust saver that eliminates condensation on the pizza pan.
Tracy slices the pizza and delivers it to the customer.
Bill's Pizza also sells pizza by the slice.
Employees keep track of the time each pizza comes out of the oven. Tracy said this ensures that each pizza is fresh.
When a customer orders a slice of pizza, Tracy places it in a small electric brick oven to reheat it.
"The small oven gives the slice a nice crispness and freshness," he said.
Tracy said the number one type of pizza nationally is pepperoni.
The final step is to grab some napkins and enjoy.
And don't let the cheese burn your tongue.
Bill's Pizza is located at 107 S. Cortez St. The telephone number is 443-0800.
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