From time to time I get requests from readers asking for a dough formula suitable for making calzones. The truth of the matter is that while you can use a specific dough formula for making calzones, your regular pizza dough will work just fine in this application. Let’s start by looking at a dedicated calzone dough formula. Calzones are typically made from dough that is a little richer than an average pizza dough. This can be accomplished by adding some whole egg to the dough formula, and then increasing the amount of fat used in the dough. In some applications, you might also want to increase the amount of sugar as well. These changes move the dough formula closer to that of a pastry dough, and the corresponding finished calzone will have a richer taste and a more tender eating characteristic than what we normally see. Here is what the dough formula looks like:
Strong bread/pizza flour: 100% 25 lbs.
Salt: 1.75% 7 oz.
Sugar: 5% 1.25 lbs.
Olive oil or butter: 8% 2 lbs.
Whole egg: 5% 1.25 lbs.
Yeast: (any of the following) Instant dry yeast: 1% 4 oz. Active dry yeast: 1.5% 6 oz. Fresh/comp. yeast: 3% 12 oz.
Water: 52% 13 lbs.
Mix and handle the dough in the same manner as you would your regular pizza dough.
For many of us, though, having a special dough just for calzones is out of the question. Luckily, some simple modifications to our regular pizza dough are all we need. To make the calzone, decide what size you want to offer. I like to use 8 ounces of dough to make a 10-inch personal size calzone, or 11 ounces to make a large 12-inch calzone. Begin by opening the appropriate size dough ball up to the full diameter of the calzone size. In this case you would open a dough ball up to form a 12-inch circle for the 12-inch calzone. Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the entire outer edge (about 1-inch wide) with water. Just dampen the dough, don’t flood it with water or you will have problems getting the dough to seal properly after you fold it over. Next, apply a small amount of sauce and a generous amount of ricotta cheese, followed by some mozzarella. Add the fillings of choice (all meat toppings should be pre-cooked). Carefully fold the top portion of the dough over the fillings so it aligns with the bottom portion. Press the edges of the dough together tightly to seal. Optional: Pull and stretch the dough edge while tucking it under the calzone to form a decorative edge.
Next, cut or tear a couple of holes into the top of the formed calzone to serve as vent holes. Transfer to a screen, brush the top of the calzone with whole milk and bake as you would your regular pizzas. Bake the calzones to a golden brown color and brush with melted butter or olive oil immediately upon removal from the oven. Sprinkle on a blend of powdered Parmesan and Romano cheese with a little of your favorite Italian herbs, then serve with a side of marinara, garlic and butter, or ranch dipping sauce.
If you really want to do calzones on the quick and easy, think about utilizing your existing dough weights to produce the calzones. Smaller calzones can usually be made from a larger size dough piece that has been cut in half before opening it up, and if you’re making a 12-inch pizza already, chances are that the same dough weight will also work for the 12-inch calzone, too. Just remember to brush the formed calzone with liquid whole milk before baking to improve the crust color.
I’ve been asked why I don’t use a whole egg wash to coat the dough before baking. The reason for this is due to food safety concerns. If shell eggs are used to make the egg wash rather than pasteurized, liquid whole egg, there is a possibility that the eggs could be contaminated. If the egg wash is not properly handled, and kept refrigerated, the wash could become the source of a major foodborne illness problem for you. But the oven will kill any bacteria, right? That is correct, but my main concern is cross contamination with other (non-baked) food items that your employees might also be handling without first thoroughly washing their hands. As the old adage goes, better to be safe than sorry.
Calzones are easy to make — and they don’t require anything special, with regard to dough or fillings (though you may not have ricotta on hand in some cases). You will probably also find that they can be baked right along with your pizzas, so special handling at the oven probably won’t be needed, either. What a great way to expand your pizza menu. ?
Tom Lehmann is a director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas.