The Intentional Calzone, by Mikkel Elbech
“We can just turn it into a calzone,” my friend told me as his yet-to-be-baked, beautifully decorated pizza turned into a tragic mess. The crust had gotten stuck to the pizza peel, and there was no way to get it off the peel and still have it be recognizable as a pizza.
So, indeed, we turned it into a calzone. Still a highly delicious feast.
It was a relief to know that there would always be a handy Plan B to turn to, whenever I would run into the same problem.
Baking Steel acquired, ready to impress
This incident happened just a few days before I acquired my Baking Steel. I had decided to add pizza baking to my existing sourdough baking excitement. A decision very much spurred on by randomly seeing the Baking Steel at Sur La Table while perusing their baking equipment section.
I didn’t buy it initially, but I kept thinking about it, and so, after a few weeks, I bought it. I ordered a nice aluminum pizza peel on Amazon, too, and I was ready to impress the world (or my wife, at least) with incredible homemade pizza.
As it turned out, I needed that plan B for the very first pizza I made.
It was a genuinely upsetting experience. But, again, that Plan B calzone still proved itself to be a most delicious meal.
After that, my pizzas generally turned out quite well, and they’ve continued to improve over the past month since getting the Baking Steel.
A different, intentional kind of calzone
Something was off, however, about the whole calzone thing simply being a Plan B option. Especially since my pizzas were no longer getting stuck to the peel. Would this lead to me never getting a homemade calzone again? That was an unsettling thought.
Thus, I wanted to make a different kind of calzone than those Plan B calzones: I wanted to make the intentional calzone.
This was quite the game-changer. It allowed me to carefully layer the contents on the dough – and to close it up gently. A much more satisfying experience compared to the Plan B approach of somewhat angrily folding up what was supposed to be a delightful pizza.
After having good luck with the intentional calzone approach a couple of times, I made what I honestly have to consider one of the most exciting meals I’ve ever had: A calzone filled with pulled pork and mac n’ cheese from The Original Q Shack, the finest BBQ establishment in Durham, North Carolina (or the entire world, probably) – topped off with a bit of barbecue sauce and sriracha.
My only mistake was to eat it while it was still extremely hot. I’ve since then learned to let a calzone cool off for about ten minutes before biting into it. It’ll still be plenty hot by then.
My approach should be quite simple for anyone who’s ever made a pizza on the Baking Steel:
- Use the dough you’d normally use for a pizza, but when you shape the dough, don’t go for the perfectly round shape – instead, allow for an oval shape to emerge (but still go for as big a dough and as thin a crust as you otherwise would)
- Place the dough on a floured surface
- Put your toppings on one half of the dough – as with pizzas, use less toppings than you might think you would need
- Close the calzone by lifting the other half over the first one
- Seal it by sticking the edges with a fork
- Transfer the calzones to the Baking Steel, which should be on the top rack of the oven
- Depending on the original weight of your dough and how thin you stretched it, you will need to bake it somewhere between 4 to 8 minutes
- When the dough looks edible, give it 1-2 minutes with the broiler to perfect the crust – potentially less for a really thin crust, or if the calzone is almost in contact with the broiler (either way, keep a close eye on it the entire time – and rotate the calzone if necessary)
- Remove the calzone and let it sit on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before eating
- While you wait, take a photo of your calzone and post it on Instagram using the hashtag #intentionalcalzone #bakingsteel