I bake cakes and cookies, but I’m really kind of an idiot when it comes to baking bread. Dough and I just doughn’t get along. I know, I’m really clever this morning. 🙂 I think it must be all the My Drunk Kitchen episodes I’ve been watching. So many amazing drunk puns– it’s impressive. I’m 99% of the time super-sober, and yet can’t make puns on the fly like that.
Anyhow, I digress. Calzones. Doughy goodness. Cheese and meat and more cheese and carbs. What else do you need in life? This particular recipe was inspired by extreme hanger. Like, angry hunger. When I’m hangry, I turn a bit manic and desperate, and cave into my instinctual need for comfort food. Naturally, as a New Yorker, I turn to pizza, or relatives thereof. When I was uber-hungry-on-the-verge-of-hanger the other night, I’ll admit– I went for spoonfuls of Nutella, Crunchy Biscoff spread, and crunchy Peanut Butter. Go ahead, judge me. I bet you can’t, because you’ve been there, too. And it’s ok. We all have our weaknesses. I just can’t be weak in moderation… whoops. Which led me to having a belly full of sugars and fats, and no more hanger pangs. This allowed me to spend the next hour proofing dough and baking dough-pies filled with a ricotta-mozzarella-egg yolk-garlic-red pepper oil mixture and sausage, onion, and spinach. Yes!
Here’s the recipe, which is adapted from The New Best Recipe cookbook. It takes a little bit of time (1.5 hour-ish, including dough-proofing time), but it’s so totally worth the 6 giant calzones you’ll get out of this adventure in cooking and baking (side note: I just typed “cookie” instead of “cooking.” We know where my mind is at). Enjoy! Please be loving and patient towards your dough! It will know if you’re getting hangry… we want HAPPY YEAST!
For the dough:
1 packet active dry yeast (approx. 2 ¼ tsp)
4 C bread flour + a little more for kneading the dough
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ C warm water (100 degrees F)
For the filling:
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
15 oz. whole-milk Ricotta cheese
8 oz. shredded Mozzarella cheese
1.5 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp Oregano
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
8 oz. sausage (not in casing)
4 C spinach leaves
½ yellow onion
Small dish of EVOO (for topping the calzones)
6 pinches of Kosher salt (for topping the calzones)
What to do:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, yeast, and salt. Attach the dough hook and bowl into the stand mixer, and with the mixer on low speed, add in the water and EVOO until dough comes together, about 10 minutes.
- Lightly spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray and turn out the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size for 1.5-2 hours somewhere warm.
- Meanwhile, make the filling! Stir together the garlic, red pepper flakes, and EVOO in a skillet over medium heat. Transfer to a small bowl, and using the same skillet, stir in the sausage over medium-high heat until the sausage is no longer pink. Add onion and stir until translucent. Stir in spinach and lower heat to medium until spinach leaves wilt.
- Combine the cheese, egg, herbs, and spices in a medium bowl. Add in the red pepper-garlic oil.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough onto an un-floured surface. Divide the dough in half, and cut each half into thirds. Reshape each segment (should be 1/6 of the dough) into a ball and transfer to a nonstick cooking sprayed baking sheet. Let the dough hang out for about 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on the rack. Heat the oven to 500 degrees F for approx. 30 minutes.
- One by one, take a dough ball and roll it out to a 9-inch circle using a rolling pin. In the center of the bottom half of each flattened dough circle, place about ½ C of the cheese mixture, spreading it out with a spoon or small spatula, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered. Top with 1/6 of the veggie-and-sausage mixture.
- Fold the top half of the dough over the filling-covered bottom half of the dough, leaving a ½-inch border uncovered. With fingertips, lightly press around the lip of the dough to lightly seal in the filling from the ½-inch dough border.
- Beginning at one of the seams, place an index finger across the edge of the dough and pull the bottom layer of dough over your index finger. Press the dough flap into the rest of the dough to seal. Repeat until the entire calzone is sealed.
- With a knife, cut into the very top of the calzone 4-5 air vents, making sure you don’t cut deep enough to pierce the bottom of the calzone.
- Repeat steps 7-10 until all calzones are done. With a pastry brush, brush the tops of each calzone with some EVOO and sprinkle some kosher salt over the tops.
- When the pizza stone has been heated for 30 minutes, place the calzones directly on top of the pizza stone. Be careful! I used a metal fish spatula to slide my calzones onto the pizza stone.
- Bake calzones until they’re bubbly and golden brown on top—about 10-12 minutes. Grab the calzones using tongs if you have them… and cool for 5 or so minutes so you don’t burn your tongue. These go well with a side of marinara sauce!