In our ever-widening experience concerning bread-like foods, I finally encountered a calzone I could actually make. Aha! I have conquered the calzone! This particular stuffed bread was usually something one finds in a pizzeria, stuffed with cheese, meat or spinach, or all three. My experience with them was that they were often overstuffed, sloppy, messy things to eat. Something that required a knife and fork almost (but refusing to look like a sissy, I persevered). In particular, I didn’t like the way the molten cheese could end up all over you.
Enter Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. For those of you who haven’t read or bought this book, I highly recommend it. The authors provided a great jumping-off point for calzones, providing a recipe for the crust (reprinted for your convenience below). The first time I made this, it was experimental mode, and used only cheese. There was a definite concern on my part about a drippy calzone that would leak out the filling as it baked, too. I needn’t have worried. On my spinach/cheese calzone in the photo, you can see a little cheese and spinach oozed through the slashes, but nothing to worry about. It was also sprinkled with some sesame seeds and herbs. For more of that authentic wood-fired flavor, I baked the calzones on my Big Green Egg, my outdoor baking appliance. Sometimes I even barbecue on it, but it’s mostly my outdoor oven.
I suggest that you start this recipe the day before, but if you’re really motivated, start in the morning and go for it. Without further adieu, here’s the recipe from Five Minutes:
Spinach and Cheese Calzone
Olive Oil Dough Ingredients:
2 ¼ cup lukewarm water
1 ½ tbsp. granulated yeast (1 ½ packets)
1 tbsp. salt, or to taste
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
I make the dough using the bucket method, combining the ingredients in a large, food-safe plastic tub with lid. Mix well and let sit on your counter until the dough rises and falls back down the bucket. This takes a few hours.
1 grapefruit-sized ball of the above dough
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup fresh or thawed and drained frozen spinach *
1 egg (see instructions below)
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
¼ tsp. salt
Cornmeal for dusting *
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
If you’re using your oven with a baking stone, heat it now at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. See Egg instructions below. Sauté the garlic in the olive oil until fragrant. Add the spinach and sauté for two minutes until wilted. Drain and squeeze spinach gently, discarding any liquid. Note: Do squeeze out as much water as possible, as spinach seems to always retain a bit of water.
Beat the egg in with the ricotta, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix in the spinach.
Calzone Dough Instructions
I floured the ball of dough, and then rolled it with a rolling pin on a lightly floured board, about ¼ inch thick. I cut the dough in half to make smaller calzones, but you could make one large one. Just keep in mind these aren’t small calzones. If you make two smaller ones, each would be good for two people. With three people, we still had leftovers (one was a teenager, so that gives you an idea – all depends on the appetites). Once your dough is rolled out, place ½ cup cheese mixture (or 1 cup if you’re making the one large one) on one side of the circle. Wet the edges of the calzone using water, with your fingers or a pastry brush to moisten; this will help seal the edges. Fold the bare side over, crimp and seal. Cut three slits on top to release the steam, and then slide your calzone onto your stone or baking sheet. If using your oven, they suggest a broiler tray underneath filled with 1 cup water. Bake for exactly 25 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes to allow the cheese to set.
* I didn’t use spinach the first time I made this, but now do. Also, you could add ham, pepperoni, sun-dried tomatoes – whatever you want – to personalize your calzone.
* I used cornmeal for dusting rather than the whole-wheat flour originally called for, as I felt the cornmeal was more authentic.
I started and stoked the egg as normal, with the grid and ceramic baking stone inside the egg. When the egg reached 450 degrees, I put the baking sheet on the stone. Bake for 25 minutes exactly, but watch toward the end that nothing starts to burn. Eggs like to cook along at jet speed. Watch your temperatures: If it goes a little higher than 450 degrees, that’s OK, but do keep an eye on it.
See www.ArtisanBreadInFive.com, which has a gluten-free recipe for calzones, among many other wonderful things.