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We served calzones in the store a few Saturdays ago. It was fun. We chose two good recipes; one with a white sauce and one with a red. People loved them.

It was easy to show people how to make them. Many were amazed at how simple they were.

Aly Nef did the baking. When she came to work on Saturday morning, I told her we were going to bake 400 calzones in five hours. There was a little glaze over her eyes as she processed the math on that one, but she did a great job. We gave her a little help but mostly, she did it herself.

How can one person make 400 calzones? Simplify it, make big batches, and use a dough press.

We chose things that we could make in one pot and spoon a quarter cup of filling into each calzone-no assembly like adding cheese, meat, and sauces separately as you would with a pizza. And we didn’t worry about rise times for the dough. We used our pizza dough mixes and any rising of the dough was incidental. Sure there was a little time between mixing the dough and sticking the calzones in the oven but not much and it wasn’t planned. Obviously, this is a great choice when you have to feed your teenagers-and all their friends.

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The Easy Way to Make Calzones

There is a fuzzy line between calzones, piroshkies, pocket sandwiches, and pasties. They all are baked and have a pocket of goodies inside an envelope made of dough. Most of the time, it’s a yeasted dough, though I’ve made plenty of pocket sandwiches with pie crust dough.

To me, calzones are Italian-one chef said they were just folded pizzas-with Italian spices and sauces. The sauces can be white or red. I make mine with more sauce than I use with pizzas.

Piroshkies are Eastern European and often have shredded cabbage or onion pieces. Pocket sandwiches, I think of as American and I picture ham and melted cheese in a hot crust.

I don’t have experience with pasties, though I know that they come from the mines in the upper Midwest-Michigan in particular. Miners pack them in their lunches.

Don’t get hung up on definitions. Make whatever you want filled with whatever is available and sounds good.

My only suggestion is to be mindful of food safety: if the components need to be refrigerated, the pockets need to be refrigerated. Be careful what you pack in an unrefrigerated lunch.

Calzones are closely related to pizzas. Somehow though, cutting into the crisp, golden crust of a calzone to reveal a luscious filling is a different experience than eating a pizza. The calzones in this article have more sauce and a nice balance of filling to crust.

There are two steps in making calzones that people pause over: Making the crust and sealing the calzone. We’ll give you easy solutions for both.

The Crust

I use a pizza dough mix.

You can make your dough from scratch. Unless you use a dough relaxer, the dough will be hard to roll out to a smooth, thin crust and it will spring back on you (Yes, they call it “springback”).

If you don’t have a dough relaxer, use flour with a lower protein content, maybe a 50/50 mix of pastry flour and bread flour, make the dough soft with a little extra water, and be patient-roll the dough out and let it sit a bit before cutting your shapes. But again, a good dough relaxer makes life easier.

Making the Calzone-Use a Dough Press

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The easiest way to make a calzone-by far-is with a dough press. Yes, I’ve made plenty of calzones by tracing a circle with a plate or even free handing a circle but a dough press makes it easier and they only cost a few bucks.

The dough press does three things for you.

  1. The press cuts the dough into nice round circles. The back of the press is a cutter (If you don’t have a relaxer in your dough, your circle will shrink when you cut it).
  2. The press forms a bowl to cradle the filling. Place a dough circle in the press and place the filling in the bowl.
  3. The press folds, crimps, and seals the calzone.


How to Make a Calzone

  1. Roll the dough until 1/4-inch thick. Use the dough press to cut circles. Place a circle in the dough press.
  2. Place a filling on the lower half.
  3. Brush water on the edges of the pastry. The water will help seal the dough seam.
  4. Use the dough press to fold the top of the calzone crust over the bottom and seal the edges. Be sure to press firmly enough to seal the edges.
  5. Just before baking, brush the crust with an egg white wash or olive oil. An egg white wash will give the calzones a satiny finish. Olive oil will make the crust browner and crisper.
  6. Bake the calzones on a dark pan on the lowest shelf of the oven to provide enough bottom heat to bake the bottom crust. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the crust is browned.


Tips for Making the Perfect Calzones

  • For the filling, simple combinations usually work best.
  • Don’t overfill your calzone, less is truly better. If it is too full it’s likely to leak.
  • Calzones take longer to cook than pizza and require a lower temperature in order to crisp the crust and to penetrate the filling.

Creamy Ricotta and Sausage Calzone Recipe

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Use this recipe as a template for other calzones.Try other calzones with mushrooms, pepperoni, spinach, or more. If you use onions or green peppers, partially cook the veggies before adding them to the filling. Meats should always be cooked first.

Use a pizza crust mix to make eight six-inch calzones, or use a recipe, or premade pizza dough.

Ingredients

Pizza dough

3/4 pound mild Italian sausage
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 4 teaspoons dried
1/4 cup milk

2/3 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for brushing on the calzones

1.Make the dough first. Place it in a large greased bowl, cover, and let the dough rise while you are preparing the filling. The dough does not need to double in size.

2.Saut the sausage and onion together until just cooked but not over-cooked (the meat will cook just a bit more in the heat of the oven). Stir in the basil. Crumble the meat into smaller pieces. Drain any grease.

3.Add the cheeses, ricotta, milk, and spice. Cook, stirring, until the cheeses are melted. Salt and pepper as desired and set aside.

1.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2.With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin layer as you would for pie crusts, less than 1/4-inch thick avoiding any thin spots that might leak.

3.Cut out circles about six inches in diameter with the dough press cutter or using a saucer as a template. Reroll any drop pieces and cut those also. You will need eight circles.

4.Place a dough piece in the dough press or on a platter. Place a rounded 1/4 cup of filling on one half of the dough piece. Brush water around the rim of the dough circles and fold and crimp using the dough press or with a fork.

5.Grease a large baking sheet and dust it with cornmeal or semolina flour. With a pastry brush, brush the crust of each of the calzones with olive oil.

6.Bake the calzones for 9 to 10 minutes or until browned on the bottom rack of the oven. Remove from the oven and turn onto a wire rack. Brush the crust again with olive oil. Serve hot.

To assemble and bake your calzones

Classic Florentine Calzones

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Ingredients


Pizza crust mix to make eight six-inch calzones, a recipe, or premade pizza dough

1 pound mild Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked or one teaspoon dried
1 cup spaghetti or marinara sauce
2 cups spinach leaves, washed and spun dry
2/3 cup grated mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for brushing on the calzones

 

Directions


1.Make the dough first. Place it in a large greased bowl, cover, and let the dough rise while you are preparing the filling. The dough does not need to double in size.

2.Saut the sausage until just cooked but not over-cooked (The meat will cook just a bit more in the heat of the oven). Crumble the meat into smaller pieces. Drain any grease.

3.Add the cheese, spaghetti sauce, and spice and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Add the spinach leaves. Salt and pepper as desired and set aside.

To Assemble and Bake Your Calzones


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a thin layer as you would for pie crusts, less than 1/4-inch thick, avoiding any thin spots that might leak.

2. Cut out circles about six inches in diameter with the dough press cutter or using a saucer as a template. Reroll any drop pieces and cut those also.

3. Place a dough piece in the dough press or on a platter. Place a rounded 1/4 cup of filling on one half of the dough piece. Brush water around the rim of the dough circles and fold and crimp using the dough press or with a fork.

4. Grease a large baking sheet and dust it with cornmeal or semolina flour. With a pastry brush, brush the crust of each of the calzones with olive oil.

5. Bake the calzones for 9 to 10 minutes or until browned on the bottom rack of the oven. Remove from the oven and turn onto a wire rack. Brush the crust again with olive oil. Serve hot.

Author Biography

 

Top of FormDennis Weaver has burnt food from Point Barrow, Alaska, to Miami, Florida. He is the founder of The Prepared Pantry in Rigby, Idaho and the author of How to Bake: The Art and Science of Baking, available free in an e-book or as a Kindle book on Amazon for $10.

 

He loves to help people bake and is giving away Free Kitchen Library sets with 30 e-books and over 1500 pages of content like this-a $150 value. There is no cost or obligation. You get five books immediately and one per week for 25 weeks. See how to get your free kitchen library

 

Dennis lives in Rigby, Idaho, with his wife, Merri Ann. They have five wonderful children.