Today was the day. I got more mozzarella (which turned out to be unnecessary), ricotta, baking soda (also unnecessary as it turned out; I still had enough), and dough, and so began take two. I can’t call this a recipe as such because I didn’t measure a blessed thing, so I’ll lay this out in steps.
Step 1: The dough
Using a ball of store-bought dough from Wegmans, which funny enough wasn’t frozen this time (maybe the last time I went they had just delivered a fresh batch), I put the dough onto a floured surface and divided it into halves with a bench scraper. One half went into a freezer bag and into the freezer. The other was halved again, and then each half was rolled up into a loose ball and coated in flour, then rolled out as best I could with a mini roller until it was at a pretty good thinness and overall size.
Step 2: The cheese
In a bowl I mixed some shredded mozzarella and ricotta, I want to say about a cup of each, and maybe ¼ cup or less of Parmesan; I didn’t want that to be a dominant flavor. In the future I think I need to skew the ratio further in favor of mozzarella. By eyeballing it I had a mix that could be spooned out onto the dough easily, but more mozzarella would have been better for a firmer middle.
Step 3: Fill and seal
I put enough filling in each to cover about half the rolled-out dough, except for about an inch of space on the edge. To seal the calzones, I wet my fingers and went around the edges of the dough to get them tacky again. Then I took the far end (without filling) and pulled it over the filling, partially onto the edges with about ½” of clearance. After that, I folded up a bit of the edge at a time, then the next bit, etc. all the way around. (This technique is detailed in the Food Wishes calzone video on YouTube.)
Step 4: The bath
Before the filling stage, I started the oven preheating and then began boiling about a quart and a half of water in a saucepan. As the water warmed up I added, bit by bit, just under half a cup of baking soda. More might have been a fine idea, but I think it was enough. Last time I added the baking soda once the water was already boiling, but this time I spread it out a lot more and it seemed to work much better. No spillovers!
Each calzone went in for a minute: thirty seconds to a side. I used a wide spatula to lower each one in, but two to manage the flip and to retrieve them. Using the two spatulas was a very very good idea and it prevented the kind of disaster I had last time. I was a little worried the big one hadn’t sealed all that well after this, but it all worked out.
Step 5: Final prep
Each pretzel went out of the bath, after draining, onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Then I took an egg wash (one egg beaten with about a tablespoon of water) and brushed that liberally on the top of each calzone. Next, I took some pretzel salt—yes I have that, and you can get it on Amazon—and sprinkled it over. I used a spoon to sprinkle the salt, which in hindsight was a stupid idea because it resulted in some very bad clustering, so next time learn from me and just clean off your fingers and grab pinches of the stuff to sprinkle manually.
Bathed, eggwashed, and salted, each calzone now got three slits in the top to release steam during baking, and they went into a 450° oven for 15 minutes. At first that was 10 minutes, but I felt they needed the extra time to brown.
I ate the larger of the two calzones for dinner, cutting it in half first to see if I’d be hungry enough to eat the second half. I was, but with a bit of regret because boy was that a lot of food for me.
The only real problems I had were the ones I mentioned above: the cheese mixture was a little too runny and I think needed more mozzarella to balance it, and the calzone was way too salty because of my sprinkling mishaps. Before putting the second one away for leftovers, I brushed off a lot of the salt to give my mouth a fighting chance. For the cheese, I think maybe a longer cooking time might have firmed it up some more, but the dough was cooked through in 15 minutes so I don’t see a reason to risk burning it rather than simply adjusting some ratios next time.
Otherwise, this turned out spot-on. And now that I have the technique under my belt, I know I can pretzelfy more things.
Prep time turned out a lot better for me this time around, even with rolling out the dough (which didn’t take all that long). I’d say from the time I started to the time they went into the oven, it was only about 35 minutes. A more skilled multitasker with actual counter space could probably knock that way down. You do have to factor in a small amount of cooldown time for these things, though, so give them about 10-15 minutes after leaving the oven before you attempt to eat them, or you’ll be sorry.
Funnily enough, the calzones didn’t smell like pizza dough while baking; they smelled like soft pretzels. I didn’t expect to get that pretzel smell, which was a nice bonus. And the seals held up pretty well as you can see; I had only minor leakage in the small one, which didn’t even get far enough to make it onto the cookie sheet.
Bad Idea Mode successfully conquered!