I am a huge fan of Pinterest. If it were not for the fact that I have limited access to the internet at my apartment then I could easily spend all my free time pinning and repinning. I especially love browsing through recipes and pinning yummy ideas away for a later day. A few months ago I found a recipe for braided calzones. The recipe used pre-made refrigerated dough, which made it super quick and easy to make. I pinned it away for later, but this week when I went to go revisit it I was disappointed to find that the page had been taken down. I wanted to make it for my family while visiting with them over Christmas break. Feeding a family of seven (plus the brother in law and nephew) can be a challenge for us at times, so we are always looking for yummy meals that are easy to make for a large family. And as Italian food lovers, calzones were sure to be a big hit with my whole family. So I decided to try my hand at making braided calzones myself. It was a raving success!
- Refrigerated pizza dough
- Your favorite jarred pizza sauce
- Favorite pizza toppings (we used pepperoni, hamburger and green olives but you can use anything you like)
- Mozzarella chesse
- 1 tbls melted butter
- Garlic salt/garlic powder to taste
- Parmesan cheese to taste
- Pastry board
- Rolling pin (or your hands)
- Pizza cutter (you can use a knife, but it tends to stick to the dough too much)
- Baking sheet covered in foil, lightly greased (I forgot to grease it... don't do that. Will make the dough stick )
- A preheated oven (follow the preheating specifications on the packaging of your refrigerated pizza dough. Mine said 375 F.)
- A pastry brush (I couldn't find mine, so I just used a spoon to spread the melted butter)
- Flour your pastry board and your hands. The dough I bought was quite sticky.
- Place the ball of dough on the pastry board and roll it out flat with the rolling pin. Your goal is to make it into a rough rectangular shape. I found that it was easiest to accomplish this by picking up the dough and stretching it into the desired shape and then placing it back on the board to smooth it back out. Be careful not to work the dough too thin. I made this mistake with my first calzone. It still turned out fine, but it stretched and tore a bit too easily for my liking. I think it's better to have it too thick than too thin.
- Transfer the dough to the baking sheet.
- Spoon the pizza sauce down the center of the dough, leaving about 1 inch without sauce on each end and three or four inches without sauce on both sides.
- Add whatever pizza toppings you want on top of the line of sauce. My family has varied tastes. We made three calzones to be split between six people. One with pepperoni and green olives, one with hamburger, and one with hamburger and pepperoni (we added olives to half of that one). The possibilities are endless. Next time, I want to try adding ricotta cheese and spinach.
- Cover your toppings with a generous amount of mozzarella cheese. In my family, the cheesier the better (come on, it's not like we eat calzones EVERY day).
- Now for the fun part: braiding!
- Using a pizza cutter, cut slits into the sides of the dough from the outside edge to about 1/4 inch from the sauce. Space the slits about one inch apart. Do not make these tabs of dough too thin. I made this mistake on the first calzone I made and it made the tabs hard to work with and easy to tear.
- Starting at one end, take one of the tabs and lay it across the filling at a diagonal. Take the tab opposite of it and cross it over the first tab, at an angle.
- Continue in this manner, alternating side to side, until you reach the middle of the calzone. You want to be sure to cover up as much of the filling as you can as you cross the tabs over each other. Try not to leave many gaps.
- Switch to the opposite end of the calzone and cross the tabs over each other in the same manner.
- When done it should look kind of like a loaf of french bread.
- If the ends of the calzone are still open, pinch them shut so that the sauce does not run out when baking.
- Brush the top of the calzone with melted butter.
- Sprinkle garlic salt or garlic powder on top to taste (this made such an impact! I don't remember this step being in the original recipe I found, but I think it is what really makes the calzone).
- Put the calzone in the oven to bake. We baked three at a time, which took about 25 minutes, if you are only cooking one then it should take less time. The top of the calzone should be lightly browned. If in doubt, following the recommendations on the packaging of your refrigerated pizza dough.
- About 5 minutes before the calzone is done baking, sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and return it to the oven.
- Once the calzones are golden brown on top, remove them from the oven. Let them cool just a few minutes. Cut them in half and serve. For our family, half a calzone was more than enough for one person.
These calzones are beyond delicious and super easy. They were an instant hit with my family. My dad even ventured to say they were the best calzones he had ever had. Well, I'm not sure about that, but I gladly receive my family's compliments. Give these braided calzones a try and let me know how they go for you.