April 7, 2013 2 Comments
It was a busy day here in the Solberg house, as we are preparing for Spring’s arrival (someday). There was cleaning to do on every level of the house, by every member of the household. There was some initial lawnwork to be done – don’t ask – and both the Twins and the Wild were playing. In the midst of this there was grocery shopping, laundry to be done, a soccer game and a soccer practice. Busy, busy, busy!
With all of that, Cath looked over her dinner menu for the day and decided, “I don’t think I want this. Can you make a pizza dough so we can have calzones?” Are you kidding? I always have time to make pizza dough. Especially for calzones!
We hadn’t made this particular recipe before, and Cath assembled the ingredients for the filling ahead of time. That was very thoughtful, as all I needed to do was make the crusts and then actually bake them. The last few times we’ve made calzones they were pretty tough, and I have to take full responsibility. I worked far too much flour into the dough, and it became very difficult to use. In addition, I’ve never really measured out that dough, and when it came time to make an individual calzone there was just too much crust!
I’ve learned a lot about pizza dough from my experience with the recipes from Bon Appetit, and that experience served me well here. I didn’t have the 18 hours of rise time I needed for that crust (no exaggeration!), but I was able to give this crust an extended rise throughout the day. I also worked in the bare minimum amount of flour needed, so that it was quite sticky. I’ve found that a high moisture content is a key for producing texture that is crispy on the outside, yet tender and chewy on the inside. Finally, there was almost no kneading of the dough. I mixed it, let it rise, and that was about it.
One last key to the success of this dough? I actually measured it out – gasp! – to ensure I used what the recipe called for. I know, that just sounds wrong doesn’t it? Turns out it’s a pretty good idea. I cut off what I thought was the right amount for a single calzone, and then, for kicks, I decided to weigh it. The recipe specified each crust to be a quarter pound of dough, but when I measured mine I found I had 8 ounces. Twice as much! I was a little shocked, but I dutifully cut the dough in half, rolled it into a ball and let it rise for another 45 minutes. It didn’t look like it would be enough at all, but it worked perfectly. Who knew? Lesson learned; when in doubt measure your ingredients.
These calzones were simple, but they tasted terrific. We served them with a warmed marinara sauce for dipping, as well as a few slices of Salame Toscano from the deli at our local market. The cheese filling was a savory mixture of the cheese flavors, and I think I enjoyed the ricotta most of all. The crust was very light and crispy, with the thicker portions on the ends being delightfully chewy. The warm marinara was perfect for dipping, and we complemented this flavor with a glass of Spanish red tempranillo we had left over from the evening before. The salame toscano provided a rich contrast to the cheese flavors, which really helped to make this meal interesting with the changes in flavor in every bite. In all it was a wonderfully hearty meal for the end of a very busy Sunday.
- 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
- 1 pound prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Marinara sauce, warmed, for dipping
- 4 ounces sliced salame toscano
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. NOTE: We are big believers in the pizza stone, and that’s what I used for this recipe. I placed the stones in the oven, and then preheated to 450 degrees F. for 45 minutes to ensure they were at the proper temperature.
- Make the filling: Mix the mozzarella, ricotta, basil, scallions, 1/4 cup parmesan and the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl until combined. Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface into a 7-to-8-inch round.
- Spoon one-quarter of the filling onto one half of each dough round, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Lightly brush the edges of the dough with some of the beaten egg; fold the dough over the filling and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Transfer the calzones to the prepared baking sheet.
- Brush the calzones with the remaining beaten egg and cut 2 slits in the top of each to let steam escape. Sprinkle the calzones with the remaining 2 teaspoons parmesan, then bake until golden brown and cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce and the salami toscano.
Jay’s Signature Pizza Crust
NOTE: I honestly don’t know who Jay is, but I found his pizza crust recipe years ago and it’s been a staple in our house. It’s very tasty, and wherever Jay is I hope he knows we appreciate it very much!
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.
- Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.