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Pizza Style Calzones

Source: Kristen J. Gough

Inspired by a recipe that first appeared in Cuisine at Home magazine, this is a perfect way to shake up a family dinner favorite. Read more about it in Metro Parent's Crumbs blog!

Prep Time: 30 minutes + rising time of 1 1/2 hours
Number of Servings: 4-6
Ingredients: Calzones
1 cup warm water
1 yeast packet
1/4 tsp. sugar or honey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups bread flour (optional, or just use more all-purpose flour)
1 Tbsp. sugar or honey
2 tsp. salt

Filling ingredients (mix and match a meat and cheese – or use both)
1 lb. cooked Italian sausage
1-2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 to 1 cup ricotta cheese
Dash of salt and pepper

Other possible ingredients
Diced ham
Roasted veggies
Directions: 1. Prepared spaghetti sauce (for dipping and to include with the filling).

2. In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl, put the first 3 ingredients into the bowl and whisk vigorously. Let this mixture sit for around 6-10 minutes – or until you see bubbles forming (the bubbles show that the yeast is active and that your dough will rise – yeah!). After the mixture has stood and bubbled, add in the oil.

3. In a food processor (you could do this with a standing mixer or a handheld mixer, but it's easiest in the processor), pulse together your flours,* 1 tablespoon sugar and salt. Once these ingredients are blended, run the machine as you pour in the yeast mixture. The batter should come together to form a ball (this should only take a few seconds). * Just a note on the flours: Bread flour will make the dough stiffer and the finished calzone crispier. I've found that using all bread flour makes the dough too hard to roll out. The 50/50 combo works perfectly.

4. Spray a large mixing bowl with oil. What I do is let the dough rest in the food processor while I clean out the mixing bowl. I towel dry it and then spray it with oil. Not only does taking a minute to clean out the bowl make for less mess, but the bowl is also slightly warm when I put the dough in it, making it rise that much more.

5. Remove the dough ball from the food processor and onto a lightly floured cutting board. Gently knead the dough a few times until it's no longer sticky and feels smooth.

6. Place the kneaded dough ball into the oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap that you've also lightly sprayed with cooking oil. Let rise for 1 hour.

7. After rising, punch down once and then place the dough ball onto a lightly floured cutting board. Divide the dough with a sharp knife or pastry cutter into 6 pieces. Form the 6 pieces into balls and then place them on a lightly oiled baking pan. Cover the pieces with a slightly damp cooking towel. Let them rise for 30 more minutes while you prep the filling ingredients.

8. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (yup, that's hot!). Lightly spray a 9" by 13" baking pan with cooking oil and then sprinkle with cornmeal to prevent the dough from sticking to the pan.

9. In a bowl, mix a combination of your selected ingredients. For example, 1 pound Italian sausage plus 1 to 2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup parmesan, 1/4 pound diced ham or replace the sausage with diced, roasted veggies. I also like to add 1/2 to 1 cup ricotta cheese and 1 tablespoon of prepared spaghetti sauce. So get creative with the calzone fillings!

10. One at a time, take one of the dough pieces and, using a rolling pin, make a circle 1/4" thick on a floured cutting board. Move the dough onto another floured cutting board for filling. Place about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup filling into the center of the dough circle. Pull one end of the dough over to meet the other side. With your finger, place a little bit of water onto the inside edge of the dough circle to seal.

11. Use the edge of a fork to make indents into the sealed end of the dough. (So now that your circle is a half circle, the curved side.) Place the filled calzone onto the prepared baking dish and prepare the rest of the dough pieces using the same process.

12. Lightly brush the calzones with olive oil before placing them in the oven. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the calzones are lightly browned at the edges. Let the calzones rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Heat spaghetti sauce to serve with the calzones.

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