Isn’t interesting how we see a place in a whole new light when we’ve been away from it for a while? When I recently returned to Nice, I rediscovered an Italian place just around the corner from JAN. When glancing over their offering, I was pleasantly surprised by an item on the menu that I hadn’t seen in years – the calzone. Once a staple during my student days, the calzone was a hot trend at one point in South Africa but faded into obscurity when everyone slowly returned to classic, unfolded pizzas. I love making pizza, especially at home when I’ve got friends over. It’s social food at its best! So, unable to resist a challenge, I had to try my hand at making a calzone. In a nutshell, you can’t rush the dough, and to lay the whole raising agent debate to rest, you also can’t make good pizza dough without a good quality yeast.
NOTES ON MAKING PIZZA
To get the best results when baking with instant dry yeast, make sure to use fresh flour.
If you don’t have a pizza oven, get yourself a pizza baking stone. You will find a wide range of baking stones online or at specialist kitchen shops.
You will also need a pizza peel. It looks like a long fork and is used both to put your pizza in the oven and to take it out. It will make your life so much easier. You can also use a flat baking tray – it works just as well.
Don’t rush the dough-making process. It takes time. I always make my dough the day before and keep it in the fridge. If you don’t get around to it the next day, it will last for 2 days in your fridge, just keep it covered. Just remember to take it out of the fridge an hour before baking.
Your oven temperature is very important. Place your pizza stone in the oven before preheating it. If your oven has a fan, turn it on and the heat up to the highest temperature your oven will allow. Once your oven and pizza are ready, turn on the grill of the oven. The hot pizza stone and grill will bake your pizzas beautifully.
Make sure your oven rack is placed in the middle of your oven, not too close to the grill and not too far from it either.
Your tomato sauce must not be watery, as it will cause your pizza base to go soggy.
for the dough
1 litre water (room temperature)
5 g Anchor Instant Yeast
10 ml sugar
1,5 kg cake flour
25 g salt
50 ml olive oil
for the tomato sauce
30 ml olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 x 400 g tins whole tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the topping
400 g mozzarella cheese, grated
200 g parmesan cheese, finely grated
30 g fresh basil leaves
3 x 120 g buffalo mozzarella cheese
125 g white anchovies
100 g Italian black olives
100 g capers
for the dough
Place the water, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Give it a quick stir and add 1 kg of the flour, then mix well. The best way to do this is to use your hands. Make sure the dough is not lumpy. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rest for 1 hour.
Add the salt, olive oil and the remaining 500 g flour. Mix it again with your hands.
Tip the dough out onto a well-floured surface and bring it together to form a smooth ball. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand. Leave the dough on the work surface and cover with a damp cloth.
Leave the dough for 1 hour before dividing it into six portions. To do this, the dough must first be divided in half and then each half cut into 3 evenly-sized balls.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and sprinkle with flour. Place each dough ball on the baking tray and cover with a damp cloth.
NOTE: If you started making your dough in the morning and you have 8 hours left before baking the pizzas, you can leave it outside to proof for 8 hours. If you only want to bake your pizzas the next day, place the tray in your fridge overnight until needed. Take the dough out an hour before shaping and baking your pizzas.
for the tomato sauce
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan (medium heat). Add the onion and fry until it’s soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Then, add the tomatoes and season with salt and black pepper.
Close the saucepan with a lid and let the sauce simmer for 1 hour. Take the lid off and simmer for another hour until thick. Purée the sauce with a hand blender before taking it off the heat and letting it cool to room temperature.
MAKING YOUR PIZZA
Also see my notes on heating your oven.
Place one piece of dough on a floured work surface, then press it flat with your finger tips. Don’t roll it out with roller or you won’t get that wonderful puffed edge.
Once you’re happy with your base, place it on a pizza peel or flat baking tray. Or you could carry on making you pizza on the work surface and transfer it later.
Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce on one side of the dough.
Sprinkle a thin layer of parmesan cheese on top and top it with grated mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves.
Fold the dough over the filling and press it hard around the edges.
Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce on top, sprinkle some more parmesan cheese on top, and place a few torn pieces of buffalo mozzarella on top. Finish it off with fresh basil leaves.
Carefully slide your pizza off the pizza peel or baking tray directly onto the pizza stone waiting eagerly in the oven. Careful, your oven is super hot!
Bake for 5 – 8 minutes. Once the dough is nice and crispy (and the cheese bubbling), take the pizza out of the oven with the pizza peel.
Top the calzone with fresh white anchovies (you never cook white anchovies, of course), capers, black olives and basil.