Calzone

Right Folks,

I prefer to make the calzone pizzas over the open-faced ones. This is not because I think the calzone is a superior variety; instead, the reasons are practical. Unless you are making a single pizza, you really shouldn’t bother if you don’t have a pizza oven. Sad truth, I know, but it is what it is. It is difficult to sustain the super-high temperature required to get the crispy crust. In my oven on board I can’t get the chamber much hotter than 300 Celsius. I use a pizza stone and after the first pizza the temperature drops so much that I need to wait another 15 minutes while the stone heats up. So, to make 6 top quality pizzas you need a few hours, which is obviously just a no.

The way I go about making the calzones is to make a few and place them instantly on the incredibly hot stone. Cook for 4 minutes then take them out and put them on a tray. I finish by cooking them “en masse”. This gives them their characteristic crispy, coloured bottom. If you have a really big-ass oven I suppose you could do the same with the usual round open-faced pizzas. I can fit 3 calzones on the stone at once, which makes it all much much quicker.

Ingredients:

DOUGH*

650g Strong Bread Flour - I use Marriages Flours
15g Sea Salt
20ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil - I use Venta del Baron
15ml Milk - warm
410ml Water - warm
10g Yeast

*I recommend making the dough in advance, preferably 24hrs ahead.

FILLING

As you like. The filling I used here is roasted sweet potato, fior di latte, basil, spinach, chorizo and ham. I know, bloody delicious.
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella (see details below)
Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano

Method:

Before we start, here’s a couple of photos of me in the thick of it. A week before to these photo were taken I had cycled around St Martin and got burnt. The tan is beginning to come through here.

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One final note before we get to it, pizza making is a fun activity and I fully recommend involving your friends or kids in it. That is if you have any friends or kids around (or at all).

I make the dough the night before and leave it in the fridge to slowly proof. This helps give the dough some of that characteristic chewiness. You can make the dough by hand or with machine. Mix all the ingredients together and knead with machine or hand for 10 - 15 minutes. So obviously the damn machine is easier.

You are kneading the dough for so long to strengthen the gluten in the flour, adding structure to the bread. This is a critical stage in making any bread. Everything else around the recipe can be altered, but you have to knead your dough for 10 minutes plus. It will begin to feel springy and bouncy. Gently pulling the dough apart after 10 minutes, you will notice the dough is a lot stronger.

Once the dough is ready divide into 6 balls, place on a floured tray, cover with cling film and put in the fridge.

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You want a tomato sauce, obviously. This too can be prepared the day/night before. Here is a link to my tomato sauce recipe.

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The next day, get everything else ready. Choose what you want, have it chopped, roasted, sliced, etc. Make a pizza station, ready for your miniature production line. If you are having other folk involved, this is the point when you gather them around.

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Sweet potatoes, roughly diced, tossed in olive oil, seasoned with salt & pepper and roasted at 200 Celsius for 20 minutes.

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l am using fior di latte which is from cows, because it’s firmer than buffalo. You can also use that white block mozzarella available in most supermarkets nowadays. Failing that some grated mozzarella will do. Mix whatever you have decided upon with some basil.

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Grana Padano, grated finely. I used the thermomix and blitzed it for 10 seconds, same deal.

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I found some ham and chorizo knocking around so I thought I would use it. Take it out of the packets and have it all ready at your pizza station.

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Washed spinach. I wash my spinach 3 times in cold water, spin it in a salad spinner and add it to the pizza station resting on a clean t-towel.

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Take one of the balls of dough. Punch the centre and with your hands work to flatten the dough and stretch it. Gently at first, however the dough will be strong enough to take some vigorous pull and shaping. A rolling pin will do, even if it is not exactly traditional. What you want to make sure here is that you don’t overwork the dough and take all the air out while shaping it.

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Start by adding a little sauce then lay a few spinach leaves on top.

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Sorry, forgot to mention, when my dough disc is ready, flattened out, has been pulled and stretched to the desired size, I transfer it to a pizza paddle. I use a wooden one, dead cheap, also looks good to serve on. Sprinkle the paddle with a little fine semolina and place the dough on top. As you can tell, we are building the pizza on the paddle. Semolina is important. It stops the pizza from sticking to the paddle and therefore makes it easy to transfer to the hot pizza stone in the oven.

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Anything can be used. I think I have a good amount of filling here.

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Fold the dough over and crimp the edges tight, so NOTHING leaks during baking. Cheese or suace escapage is a nightmare.

Place directly onto the pizza stone and either cook for 8 minutes and serve or par-bake for 4 minutes adding them to a tray to be finished off later. Either way they are f-ing awesome, fairly simple to produce and a massive crowd pleaser.

Michael xx

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