Calzone is Italian for pocket food. Er, or something like that. Pocket food was traditionally made by and for poor folk: your missus makes it in the morning, you put it in your pocket, and eat it on your lunch break in the fields or mines or what have you. Cornish Pasties, Empanadas, Jamaican Patties, Samosas, Turnovers and calzones are all similar: what makes them different is determined by culture and environment.
I’m not sure what traditionally goes in calzones, but I imagine it’ll be something like mozzarella, marinara, basil and if you’re really well off, some kind of meat. What all pocket foods are good for are using up leftovers. I’ve made a mean spinach, mushroom and chicken calzone before with what was lying around in the fridge.
As far as toppings are concerned, whatever goes on a pizza, goes in a calzone. Since all pizza must have bacon, all calzones must have bacon also.1
If you’re one of those fancy home cooks with a pizza stone, then I’d suggest using that. I don’t, so I just heat up my baking sheet while the oven heats up.
Just like pizza, the crust of the calzone must cook before the sauce makes the crust all wet or you get a soggy middle. The heated cookie sheet will start cooking the crust as soon as you place the calzone on there.
Finally, don’t rush in to eat it, or the toppings will partially melt your tongue: that mother is hot when it comes out the oven! So take your time. I usually cut mine in half, wait 10 minutes and I still burn my mouth on the cheese.
Makes three large calzones
For the dough
- 300g bread flour (or all-purpose)
- 180g water
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the filling, use anything you like that you think should be in a pizza. Pictured here, per calzone:
- 1 tbsp pizza sauce
- handful grated mozzarella cheese
- 3 slices Italian ham
- handful Italian parsley, finely chopped
To make the dough, combine the flour, water, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Stir until all the water is absorbed by the flour, but it still looks gnarly. Tip onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until stretchy and smooth, about 10 minutes. Oil a large bowl, place the dough inside and cover with plastic wrap. Keep in a warm place about 90 minutes to rise.
Once your dough is ready, heat your oven to 450F. If you don’t have a pizza stone, put a baking sheet in the oven while it heats up. Position your oven rack at the very bottom of the oven.
Split your dough according to how large and how many calzones you want to make at once. I usually make large ones, with about a small apple’s worth of dough.
For each calzone, roll the dough out to about a 1/4 inch thick disc. On one side, spread you sauce and place your toppings, leaving 1/2 inch of room near the edge of the dough. Fold the dough onto itself to create a pocket of delicious flavour. Flatten the edge with your finger tips. Take one edge of the calzone in your fingers near the fold. Fold it over about 1 cm, pressing it with your finger tip. Repeat until you reach the other side of the calzone. (Basically make it look like the first picture.) Pierce the pocket with a fork to allow steam to escape.
Once all your calzones are ready, take out the baking sheet – careful, it’s hot – sprinkle cornmeal on it, then quickly place the calzones on the sheet. Place in the oven on the bottom rack. Cook for 15 minutes, until golden.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Yes, I’m kidding. [↩]