A Bit Obsessed

SOURDough has obsessed over many different things in his life, some momentary fads, others turned into lifelong pursuits. There was the summer of Texas style BBQ during three unemployed months back in 97″. Salad be dammed, it was all about grilled meats. There was also a five year stint as an aspiring pro bowler after repeated screenings of the movie Kingpin, the magic of Ernie McCracken’s character firing our imaginations, constantly pitting Joe and I against each other on the lanes.

The Greatest Bowler Alive

No real mention of who Roy Munson was in that conflict, our performance on the lanes declaring that for us. My current obsession is looking to be a lifetime one, pizza and all forms of it’s cheesy, chewy goodness. It really has become an all consuming quest for pizza pie perfection.


As I try to educate myself on all things pizza, I’ve run across many clips online showing pizza pie shaping and baking technique. Unfortunately, I stumbled across this clip recently. It was previously brought to my attention by Albert, and refusing to see the whole clip at the time had removed it from memory. But there it was again, an odd kid’s video featuring the Olsen twin’s about pizza slowed down to utter insanity. I have labeled it NSFS (Not Safe For Sanity), so you have been warned.


Apologies to Monkey and Olive and anyone else disturbed by the video, but others must be warned. The self proclaimed “Queens of Gourmet” must be stopped!


After pulling myself away from the window ledge after that, I decided to work on a variation of a mortadella pizza I had seen on one of these lifestyle food shows. It’s hard to remember which program it was, after a couple of hours of viewing they all seem to blend together. It will take a bit of time to get all the elements together, but it is worth it. Just make the pizza dough the night before and it will be ready for dinner the next evening. Grated mozzarella and parmesan cheese, dolloped fresh raw tomato sauce and swirled olive oil bake up on lightly tangy, airy crust which gets topped with mortadella as soon as the pie comes out of the oven. The mortadella melts a bit from the pie’s heat, making for a moist, almost creamy mouthfeel of cheese and lightly melted fat from the mortadella, contrasting the crunch from the crust. Leftover slices reheat very well and the mortadella gets crispy edges, making for new flavors to enjoy.


The worst part of this obsession? Preventing myself from experimenting with new pies everyday. Only once a week to keep my weight down, unless of course, I start making more salad-style slices. You know it’s an obsession when you start rationalizing to make an excuse to do it, same as the “I’ll have a Diet Coke with a Big Mac because it’s less calories” line. Uhh yeah………

Mortadella and Cheese Pizza

Pizza dough from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking

French Culinary Institute by Judith Choate

Tomato sauce by Peter Reinhart



For the liquid levain:

Bread flour 28 grams/1 ounce

Water 35 grams/1 1/4 ounces

Liquid levain culture (see Joe Jr) 3 grams/1 teaspoon

Total 66 grams/2 1/3 ounces


For the final dough:


Bread flour 666 grams / 1 pound 7 1/2 ounces

Water 452 grams / 16 ounces

Liquid levain 66 grams / 2 1/3 ounces

Olive oil 33 grams / 1 1/8 ounces

Salt 16 grams / 1/2 ounce

Fresh yeast 7 grams / 1/4 ounce

Total 1240 grams / 2 pounds 11 3/4 ounces


For the pizza sauce:

1 can 28oz / 794 grams crushed tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced or pressed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt


Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl, adding more salt if needed. This makes a decent amount of sauce, so store leftovers in the fridge for a week.


Additional ingredients:

Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese to taste

Olive oil for drizzling and brushing

Thinly sliced mortadella, torn into pieces


Preparing the pizza dough


To make the liquid levain, combine the bread flour and water with the culture in a large mixing bowl, stirring with a wooden spoon to blend. When blended, scrape down the edge of the bowl, cover with plastic film, and set aside to ferment at 70°F (20°C) for 12 to 14 hours.


Combine the bread flour with the water, liquid levain, olive oil, salt and yeast in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the flat beater. Mix on low speed until blended. Switch to the dough hook and increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for about 8 minutes, or until the dough has come together but remains sticky. Check the gluten development by pulling a window.


Lightly dust a clean, flat work surface.


Scrape the dough from the bowl onto the floured surface. Divide the dough into three 413 gram pieces and shape into a round. Leave on floured surface and cover with plastic film, ferment for about 2 hours at room temperature.


Transfer to the refrigerator and proof for 1 hour or up to overnight. ( I usually go overnight to build more flavor for the dough.)



About an hour before you are ready to bake the pizzas, place the baking stone into the oven and heat the oven to 550°F or broil. Remove the dough balls from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.


Lightly dust a peel or the back of a sheet tray with semolina or flour.


On a lightly floured surface, carefully flatten and stretch the dough ball into a 11-13 inch disc. Place the disc on a lightly dusted peel or sheet tray.


Top with the shredded mozzarela and parmesan cheese.


Drizzle with olive oil.


Dollop the crushed tomato sauce.


Transfer the pizza to the hot baking stone and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the dough is crisp and crackling brown around the edges.


Top with torn pieces of mortadella and finish with a light brushing of olive oil on the crust edges. Let cool and enjoy.




4 responses to “A Bit Obsessed

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