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Home-made Calzone Pizza| From Dough to Done in 8 Easy Stages
The word calzone actually means “trouser leg”, probably because in early versions of stuffed pizza, the filling was added to a long tube of dough. The wide range of fillings that can be used in calzones make it the ideal food for gatherings, as each pizza can be tailored to suit.
As this is a basic guide to building your own calzone, I have not listed precise measurements or ingredients, but rather I have generalized, focusing more on the process. The four elements that make a calzone are:
1: How to Make the Calzone Dough
Calzone dough is no different to regular pizza dough - it should be soft and elastic, but not sticky.
This recipe uses sachets of dried yeast, rather than fresh, and strong bread flour. To make a single calzone, mix a cup of flour with a teaspoon of yeast and the slightest drizzle of olive oil. Bring this together into a ball of soft dough with warm water and knead for five minutes. Cover the bowl, and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or so, and then knock it back (re-knead it), and press it out onto a warm oiled pizza tray, pressing and stretching with the fingers simultaneously, until the dough fills the tray.
The pressed out dough will continue to rise a little, giving the finished calzone a lighter texture, while you prepare the filling.
2: How to Make Basic Pizza Sauce
I sometimes make my own pizza sauce by slowly simmering tomatoes with herbs and garlic, but if you are in a hurry, you could use passata, or make a sauce by mixing watered down tomato puree with a pinch of dried oregano. Leave this to stand a while so the herbs can infuse.
3: Which Cheese for Calzone Pizza?
Mozzarella is generally acknowledged as the king of pizza cheeses because of its stringy texture when melted. There are many other cheeses that work in calzone pizza, and I suggest you experiment with different varieties, but a 50/50 mix of mozzarella and cheddar is as good as anything.
4: What About the Filling?
In the restaurant I worked at, the default calzone on the menu had ham, mushroom and onion inside. Mushrooms are great in calzone, for in their raw state they really bulk out the filling. Anything you might find on a regular pizza will go into a calzone. Again, don’t be afraid to experiment.
For more adventures with pizza dough. . .
5: Putting It All Together
Take the tray containing your pressed out pizza dough. Load your filling onto one half of the base only. There are no rules as to how you fill your calzone; I like to spread pizza sauce over half of the base and then pile my filling on top, finishing off with cheese so that it melts downwards. Whatever filling you choose for your calzone, when it is stacked on one half of the dough, it’s time for the tricky part – which isn’t really tricky at all.
6: How to Fold a Calzone
To fold your calzone, start by turning the tray so that the end with the filling is closest to you. If you are satisfied that you haven’t overloaded your filled half of the base, carefully slide the fingers of both hands under the dough at the bare end, and grip it lightly. Gently pull the dough towards yourself, and over the filling in one smooth movement. The dough should lift freely from the oiled tray, and once you have pulled it over the filling, press it down all the way along the newly formed double edge. The dough will stay put, but you can crimp the edge with your fingers for a rustic decorative effect. When the fold is sealed, prick a few holes in the top with a fork, or a sharp knife to let the steam escape.
If your attempt at folding the calzone has left you with a pizza that resembles a lace curtain, don’t worry. Put this attempt down to experience, and cover those holes with pizza sauce and cheese.
The short video below shows how to fold a calzone. This particular pizza maker prepares his calzone of a floured surface, while I tend to fold mine in the actual pizza tray to minimize handling. You will also notice the chef cracks an egg into each of his pizzas; something I have yet to try (although I have had eggs cracked onto regular flat pizzas before).
7: Baking Guidelines
Once the calzone is folded, personal preference comes into play again. Many people like to pop the folded pizza straight into the oven with little more than a sprinkling of oregano on top. Others will cut diagonal slits in the dough that will swell and open as it cooks. My own preference is to spread pizza sauce over the dough, and then top with more cheese (as the photo above shows).
Place your prepared calzone in the centre of a hot oven, pre-heated to 240ºC, which is gas mark 9. Check your pizza after 12 minutes. If the dough is golden brown, and the pizza sounds hollow when rapped with the knuckles, then it is done. Take it out and set it to cool a little. If the pizza is not ready, put it back in the oven, but do keep an eye on it as it will soon crisp up too much.
8: The Finished Calzone
Your calzone should come away from its tray without any effort. Slide it onto a large plate, and tuck in. I recommend you eat your calzone with a sharp knife, a large napkin and a glass or two of Chianti
Bon appétit, or rather in this case, buon appetito.