Last week, Mr. Cheese had a hankering for a good old fashioned calzone. In keeping with my love affair with Cook’s Illustrated, we dug out the Italian Favorites issue and promptly went to work. While I do love the theory behind the magazine, I think the folks in the test kitchens take way too many steps and make the recipes sort of convoluted. They involve too many (unnecessary) steps or make it seem like unless you possess a certain tool, your attempts will fail. This recipe, for instance, called for a pizza stone. “You will need a stand mixer or food processor, parchment paper, and a pizza stone.” There is no variation for those of us who do not possess a pizza stone, nor any other steps to take in case we do not carry parchment paper in the kitchen. Normally I do, this time I happened to be out of the stuff.
Rather than using a pizza stone, we greased up a non-stick baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkled it with corn meal. We skipped the parchment paper altogether and put the dough right on the clean counter to prepare, then onto the baking sheet. They did not stick to any surface.
Mr. Cheese was particularly impressed with the consistency of the dough and just how light it turned out. It was easily workable, cooked through and turned out light, crisp and with a nice taste to it. We added chopped, thin-sliced ham to our filling and once we cut into the fresh-baked calzones, it seemed like we’d just ordered out fresh ones from the NY natives at the local pizzeria. We will use this again and again!
Ricotta Calzones adapted from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe by Erin McMurrer & Keri Fisher
- 4 cups bread flour, + 1/4 cup for work surface
- 1 packet, or 2 & 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil + 1 Tablespoon for oiling the baking sheet(s)
- 1 & 1/2 cups + 1 Tablespoon warm water (the CI recipe said “105 degrees” but we put it just over room temperature, did not measure it and they turned out fine)
- 1/4 cup corn meal
- 3 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/4 pound thin-slice ham, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- black pepper, to taste
- Olive oil
- Marinara or red sauce
How to Make It!
Do the Dough~ In the mixer bowl, stir together the flour, yeast and salt. With the mixer running at med-low, add the 2 Tablespoons olive oil, then slowly add the water. Allow to mix for about 10 full minutes, until it forms a smooth and elastic dough. Meanwhile, spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Once the dough is done mixing, form it into a ball and set it in the bowl. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap that has also been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Set in a warm area to allow to rise until doubled in size – about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. We set ours in the microwave, but be careful not to forget about it. 🙂
Fix the Filling! In a large bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to fill the calzones.
Assembly Line~ Mr. Cheese woke me out of a delicious nap to tell me it was time to assemble the calzones. On a clean work surface, sprinkle a bit of flour, then rub a bit on the rolling-pin, as well. Divide the dough into half, then divide each half into thirds. Form each portion of dough into a ball, then roll out into 9-inch rounds.
Place the filling (about 1/2 cup) in the middle of half of a 9-inch round, leaving a border of about an inch, uncovered. Stretch the top half of the round over the filled half, leaving a border of about 1/2 inch. Using your fingertips, press around outline of filling to make a seal with the dough.
To reinforce the seal, begin at one end of the calzone and place index finger across the edge and gently pull bottom layer of dough over tip of index finger. Press into dough to seal. Repeat all the way around and double-check your work to make sure calzone is sealed, completely. The edges should look like a sort of rustic rope. With a very sharp knife, cut 4-5 slits, 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, across the top of the calzones to allow the filling to vent.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Brush the baking sheet(s) with the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with corn meal. Place the calzones on the baking sheet(s). Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake calzones for 18-22 minutes, turning the pan around about halfway through cooking. Allow to rest for a few minutes prior to serving. Enjoy with marinara or red sauce. Serves 6