What’s your favourite food? I think pizza would have to be my favourite food ever! I love to cook sweets and desserts, but my heart definitely lies with pizza. Having lived in Italy for three years, you’d think I’d be a pizza snob, but I’m not. I would happily take a Domino’s pizza or an Italian pizza, or better yet, a Domino’s and an Italian pizza.
Whatever’s on hand will do, as long as it tastes good. I don’t need any fancy toppings on my pizza either. I’m a huge fan of cheese/margherita, pepperoni or prosciutto and mushroom. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s some bad pizza out there – I’ve never had a good supermarket-bought pizza, and I had an awful experience with a funghi pizza in Croatia (the mushrooms came from a can and were green – Ugh!).
My local pizzeria, Santa Maria, just happens to be one of the top-ranked pizzerias in London according to Time Out, and it’s cheap to boot (less than £10 for a proper pizza, straight from Italy to your plate). It’s the closest I’ve found to real Italian pizza outside of Italy, it’s simply amazing. And it even comes with classic Italian service – they’ll refuse to serve you if you try and order a salad as a main, and they supposedly have a secret dining area out the back just for their Italian-speaking guests! But their pizza is so good that the service doesn’t bother me or the scores of people queuing up outside every night (yes, every single night!). Plus, I live 5 minutes walk away, so I get mine to takeaway. I get to skip the queue and questionable service and enjoy the cheesy, tomato-ness in the comfort of my own flat!
The base of their pizzas are so thin, the sauce so tomato-y, and the mozzarella so melt-y and it’s topped off with some time in a traditional wood-fire oven, it’s pure perfection. I NEED a wood-fire oven in my backyard one day. I should probably get a backyard first!
Until I get my backyard and wood-fire oven, I’ll make do with my traditional oven. In all honesty though, I don’t know why I bother going to all the hassle of making a pizza, when it’ll never be as good as Santa Maria’s. But some of you out there don’t have a Santa Maria on your doorstep, so you need help making a good pizza, and what better place to start, than a calzone – a pizza folded in half?! It seals in all the warmth and flavours and is just inviting you to take a peek inside and see what’s on offer. Yes, please! And better yet, this recipe is entirely from scratch – dough, sauce and all!
You’ll need a bit of time to make your dough from scratch, but it’s worth it. As is the time spent making your pizza sauce from scratch too. Apart from being a bit fiddly and time-consuming, this calzone is something that anyone could make, it’s not that difficult. Of course, you’re more than welcome to use ready-made dough or sauce if you’re short on time or just need life to be a bit easier!
Calzone with Homemade Dough and Pizza Sauce
Serves 2 (with some leftover sauce for the freezer)
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
1⅓ cups lukewarm water
½ tbsp brown sugar
7g sachet dry yeast
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 cups strong bread flour
½ tbsp salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
100g cherry tomatoes, halved
200g can peeled plum tomatoes
250g tomato passata
½ tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
4-6 large fresh basil leaves
½ tsp salt
125g fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced (this is important; if sliced too thick, it won’t melt properly)
2 fresh basil leaves
Toppings of your choice, I like prosciutto and mushrooms
Olive oil, to coat
- For the dough: In a jug, mix lukewarm water and brown sugar until dissolved. Add yeast and, without mixing, allow to stand until frothy, about 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, add one tbsp olive oil, then sift in flour and salt. Using an electric mixer with doughhook attachment on medium-low speed, slowly add yeast mixture. Mix for 6 to 7 minutes until fully combined. This can also be done by hand instead of using a mixer. With the remaining olive oil, coat a large bowl and add dough, then cover with cling wrap. Stand in a warm place for about 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, make pizza sauce: Heat olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and add garlic. Cook garlic, stirring, for about 1 minute, without browning it. Add cherry tomatoes, canned tomatoes, passata, tomato paste, brown sugar, basil leaves and salt and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before blending to a smooth consistency. Allow to cool fully before using on pizza base.
- For calzone: Once dough has doubled in size, punch dough to remove air. Turn onto lightly floured surface and roll into a 25cm diameter circle. Place dough onto an oiled baking tray and spread pizza sauce over half the base, leaving 2cm around the edges. Add mozzarella and your toppings to the sauce and top with basil. Fold bare side over ingredients and line up edges. Pinch edges to seal, brush top with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, until slightly browned.
Note: Any leftover pizza sauce can be frozen flat in ziplock bags to maximise freezer space.