For this week’s experiment, I was inspired not by a particular recipe, but a new tool that I received for Christmas. My mother said she picked out this Williams-Sonoma calzone mold for me because, “Calzones seemed like something you would want to make.” She knows me so well. In fact, I’ve been working on my pizza-making skills for a while now, so it seemed only natural that I would graduate to calzones at some point.
Since I didn’t have a particular recipe to work from, I decided to improvise. I admit, I didn’t make the dough because I’m addicted to buying dough from Roma Pizzeria on 7th Avenue in Park Slope. (Side story: I didn’t know until recently that you could buy dough from a pizzeria, and it’s changed my life. When Mark suggested we get pizzeria dough one night, my response was, “We can do that!?” To which he replied, “How do you not know this?” He swears this is common knowledge. I disagree. Personally, I think it’s some kind of conspiracy in which native New Yorkers hide the secret of good dough from all of us transplants. I refuse to remain silent and have since passed this secret on to my friend Rebecca who was equally shocked. Incidentally, not every pizzeria participates in the dough black market. I recommend calling ahead to check. So far, Roma is my favorite, with Antonio’s on Flatbush and The House of Pizza and Calzones on Union as back-ups. But I digress…)
For fillings, simple seemed best. I settled on two types: cheese and spinach with cheese. I whipped up egg, parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta in a bowl and then quickly steamed a bag of Trader Joe’s spinach on the stove.
Next came the task of shaping the dough. As I mentioned, I’ve gotten comfortable making pizzas. But separating the dough into smalle portions for calzone-sized circles was a new challenge. For starters, I had no idea how much dough was enough. It turned into a classic Goldilocks scenario: the first (way) too small, the second too big and the third…well, close enough. At least I had some fun with the dough along the way. Mark took advantage of my focus to snap a few shots of my pulling, prodding and, yes, even tossing the dough to get it into shape:
The mold made filling and folding the calzones not only easier, but neater. I placed the dough on the mold, filled one side and pressed together. I was flying. About halfway through, Mark asked, “So does the mold seal it too?” Good question. I checked the first three that were sitting on the counter and they “seemed” fine. To play it safe, I went a little more slowly with the second three, making sure that they were closed tightly.
I placed all six (we were counting on leftovers) on my pizza trays (my best pizza tray cost $10 from Met Foods) and slid them into the oven after only 20 minutes of prep work.
While we waited, I made garlic knots, which are a fun way to make use of dough scraps. Fill a bowl with oil and crushed garlic, dip long stretches of the dough into the bowl and tie into a knot. Sprinkle parmesan on top for extra flavor. Easy!
As the last of the garlic knots were placed on the tray, the kitchen began to smell amazing. But then I looked up from my work and noticed that the entire apartment was also starting to look a little smoky. Uh oh…
My suspicions were confirmed when I opened the oven to find that the seams on most of my calzones had burst and cheese had fallen onto the bottom of the oven and was starting to burn. Guess they weren’t sealed after all. In addition, one of my better sealed calzones had been made too thin and the cheese and spinach was trying to escape through the top. I had to make a decision, scrap the whole meal to stop the smoke or wait a few more minutes to save the calzones… Mark and I immediately went to work opening all of the windows in the apartment and starting some fans. No sense wasting good food, right?
Luckily, it only took another five minutes for the calzones to turn golden – and for the smoke to become enough of a nuisance to reconsider our “we’ll muster through it” plan. Although there was quite a bit of lost cheese, the calzones themselves looked great – as did the garlic knots.
All in all, the meal was a success and the apartment aired out fast enough. Some of the leakier calzones were a bit sparse on filling, but the ones that had stayed sealed were perfect. The mold had ensured that I hadn’t overloaded them – which I probably would have done without the mold’s space restrictions. And although the mold didn’t seal them tight, it did allow for a great shape and pattern. So the tool is officially added to the repertoire!
In addition, I learned some good tips for my next calzone attempt:
Buy less dough – we were sick of garlic knots after a few days.
Stick with the same dough and fillings – everything tasted great.
Tightly seal each calzone after it comes out of the mold – this is crucial.
Keep a good oven cleaner on hand – just in case.