Dough expert Jeff Smokevitch of Blue Pan Pizza recently earned high honors for a gluten-free pizza at the World Pizza Championship in Parma, Italy, where he competed with scores of other pizza pros from around the globe. It turns out that the dough for the pizza that helped him win the Triathlon award (with combined rankings from three different pizza styles) came from Wild Flour Bakery, a Boulder company that's putting out a product good enough for not just Smokevitch, but for a growing number of top-caliber pizzerias in Denver and Boulder.
Kim Desch started Wild Flour Bakery a year and a half ago in Boulder after two years of research and development to come up with a pizza dough that would stand up to high standards in Denver's competitive restaurant scene. "Boulder is like the capital of gluten-free living," says Desch. "If you're going to do it in Boulder, you'd better do it right."
Making a good gluten-free dough that will satisfy chefs who demand high-quality foods in their kitchens and gluten-free diners yearning for a decent substitute for wheat-based products means starting with good ingredients. Although Desch, who was a nurse practitioner with a focus on autoimmune disease and gluten-sensitivity before founding Wild Flour, doesn't divulge the exact ingredients in her dough, she says "we're really picky about non-GMO status," and that all of her products are soy-free and egg-free (except for her cookie dough).
And although sourcing ingredients is the first step in ensuring an excellent dough, how those ingredients are handled is equally important. "The secret sauce is in the process," Desch adds. Part of that process includes natural yeast rising, which allows the dough to develop character with time — unlike many other gluten-free products that lack the consistency to form air pockets that make pizza crust light and airy.
Wild Flour mainly provides finished dough balls to restaurants, but also sells the dry mix for those with the capacity and expertise to make their own dough. In addition to Blue Pan, some of the company's top clients include Pizzeria Locale, Backcountry Pizza & Taphouse, Bru Handbuilt Ales & Eats, and the Gondolier.
Desch notes that Wild Flour provides dough balls (along with education on how to prepare it without cross-contamination from wheat flour) as the primary option over par-baked crusts to allow restaurants flexibility on how they use the product. At Blue Pan, Smokevitch uses Wild Flour's standard pizza dough for an Italian-style, thin-crust pizza and has adapted the company's breadstick dough for use as a gluten-free crust for the pizzeria's distinctive Detroit-style deep-dish pies. The dough can also be used for stromboli, calzones and other risen and baked products.
And with the proliferation of Neapolitan pizzerias in Denver, Desch's recipe is built for the imported ovens many chefs are using. "This dough loves the heat of wood-fired, coal-fired ovens," she notes. The dough is perfect for high-heat baking in the 850- to 1000-degree range typical of Neapolitan brick ovens.
Gluten-free dining has gone from a rare request from those with Celiac Disease and severe gluten intolerance to a fad diet and now to just another option for restaurateurs and chefs to consider when designing menus. "Our goal is to get gluten-free pizza out to everyone who wants it," Desch says.
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