I’m still dreaming about the Sicilian-style thick-crust pizza I made a little while back from “The Perfect Crust” chapter in my Bread Illustrated cookbook. I’ve been eager to have a go at another recipe from this chapter ever since I bit into the pillowy, cloudlike dough.
The spinach-ricotta calzone recipe seemed like the natural next step – after all, it’s the recipe that immediately follows the thick-crust pizza in the book. We had a couple of friends over for dinner the other night who were willing to be my calzone guinea pigs (I’ve never made calzones before). Game on!
This recipe had me scratching my head a little right off the bat. It clearly says it serves four, but the recipe only makes two calzones. Aren’t calzones like a personal pan pizza? Who wants to be served a half a calzone? I decided to err on the safe side and double the recipe.
The calzone dough can be made the day-of. The longest step in this recipe is actually waiting for the frozen spinach to thaw. I underestimated how long that would take and ended up running the packets under warm water to speed up the process.
I doubled both the dough – which consists of bread flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, and water – and the cheesy, cheesy filling. It’s a three cheese affair, with ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan added to spinach, egg yolks, garlic, oregano, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and a bit of salt. Neither components of this recipe were especially hard to whip up, but the assembly was a little more difficult.
I rolled my doubled dough recipe into four 9-inch rounds. Then, I loaded them up with the filling, which I spooned on generously, though still had quite a bit leftover. I added prosciutto to three of the four ‘zones, leaving the fourth meat-free for our vegetarian friend.
Next step: fold the dough over. Easy, right? Not so fast – it appeared I’d been quite heavy handed in doling out the cheesy goodness. I unfolded, scooped a bit out of each one, and made a second attempt at folding. It was still a rather tight fit, but it was better than the first attempt.
This step – even with the accompanying photo in the book – had me scratching my head a little: “Starting at 1 end of calzone, place your index finger diagonally across edge and pull bottom layer of dough over tip of your finger and press to seal.” I couldn’t figure out what that meant (or why they used “1” instead of “one”), so I just did my best to seal and crimp.
My seal was not perfect. Luckily, this wasn’t a fruit pie, where the tiniest gap results in a volcanic explosion of fruit juice. The filling stayed put, despite my holes.
I probably could have cooked the calzones a little longer, but I erred on the conservative side because I had made them a couple of hours in advance and knew they’d spend a bit of time in the oven to rewarm again later. I think they would have looked a little nicer with a bit more colour, though.
I’m not going to lie – the calzones were massive. One person managed to finish theirs entirely, while the other three made it about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way. I wonder if it would be possible to not double the recipe, but just make three or four smaller dough circles, rather than the two the recipe calls for. If you opt to double the dough, you don’t need to double the recipe – maybe 1.5x it instead.
From a taste standpoint, the dish was delicious. The flavours were fantastic. My friend made a lovely salad to go with it, and we were all left stuffed and happy.
Just another success story from the Bread Illustrated cookbook, folks!