Know what I think this relationship needs? Some how-to. And howdy do. Can I be honest with you? I don’t think you’re making pizza and calzones. We talked about rolling … more
We talked about rolling out dough a little bit here. But, you know. Are you making pizza? Whipping up a calzone? Dunno. My guess? Not a ton.
I hope we’re cool. I’d like to think I didn’t overstep. You’ll tell me if I cross the line. It’s happened before. Me? I like to live dangerously, and close to the line. Right before I draw it in the sand.
I count on pizza dough. Sometimes readers ask me what I rely upon to get me through the week. What’s in the cupboards, Mother Hubbard?
One word: pizza dough.
Ask me what happens when my pizza dough doesn’t roll out nice and easy?
Answer: There’s no living with me.
I needed that dough. I was counting on that dough. I didn’t have a Plan B. My Plan B? General crankiness and cursing. It’s not a good look. Lately, I have had a couple of unfortunate pizza dough situations. I won’t lie. Sometimes, when the dough first came together, it was so wet that it rolled out easy, but almost had holes in it. You could top it and bake it, but you couldn’t work with it. You couldn’t roll the edge for a nice crust to hang on to. Folding it over to make a calzone pocket – wasn’t gonna happen. So I’d get frustrated, wrap it up and let it sit. Sometimes in the refrigerator. Sometimes on the counter. Usually, it got better after a spell. But I had no idea why, and felt like I couldn’t replicate the experience. And what good is that?
Other times, I had the opposite problem. The dough would fight back as I tried to roll it, and it would tear when I insisted it roll. I couldn’t even gather it back up into a ball. It would crack. At least that was an easy diagnostic: too dry.
The upshot? I have good news & I have bad news. Which one do you want first?
P.S. I always want the bad news first. It’s not good. But it’s real life for me. It’s not that I’m a pessimist. It’s that I’m a lunatic.
You’re so much more self-actualized than I am, so I bet you want the good first. The good news is … that I figured it out. The bad news … the dough needs to rest. So it takes more time. More plan-ahead. Not a ton. But some.
The dough needs to be wet (mostly with oil) when it first comes together, and as it sits — either in the refrigerator or out on the counter — the flours absorb the oils and become flexible and stable. It’s not the same as conventional pizza dough that needs to “relax.” Know how gluten-free batter tends to thicken upon standing? That’s because the flour absorbs the moisture over time, since gluten-free flours are moisture-loving. That’s what they … do. So let them do their thing, and soak up all that olive oil. Then, it should roll out a treat, and be a calzone or pizza or a hot-pocket-type dealio in no time at all.
Here’s what the dough should look like after it has rested.
These spinach and pancetta calzones will knock your socks clear off. And they do a great bake-and-freeze-for-later impression. Just cool and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a ziploc bag – just be sure to squeeze all the air out of the bag before placing it in the freezer (air leads to freezer burn). Dinner in a pinch. Two words: nice.
- 1 recipe gluten-free pizza dough (recipe on this site linked to above in this post)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 ounces pancetta cubed (optional)
- 10 ounces fresh spinach (or frozen, defrosted and drained completely dry)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese (part skim is fine)
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ cup grated Gruyere cheese (good substitutes: white cheddar cheese or fontina cheese)
- 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried)
- 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, mixed with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven as it heats. If not, line an overturned rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal portions, and roll each into a ball. Set the dough aside, covered loosely with a wet towel.
- In a medium saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the onion. Saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the minced garlic and the (optional) pancetta, and saute, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant and the pancetta is cooked (about 4 minutes). Remove the onion garlic and pancetta mixture to a separate large bowl. Add the fresh spinach to the saucepan, and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until wilted (about a minute, more or less), and add to the large bowl with the other ingredients. If using frozen spinach, toss directly into the large bowl. Mix to combine, adding salt and pepper to taste. If you haven't used the pancetta, you will need more salt. Set the bowl aside to cool.
- Take the first ball of pizza dough, and roll between two pieces of parchment paper into an approximately 6 to 8 inch round, about ⅛ inch thick (thickness of a nickel). If the edges are very rough, tuck them toward the center of the round, and then roll them smooth. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
- To the large bowl, add the ricotta, Parmesan, Gruyere and eggs, and mix to combine well. Fold in the basil and oregano. Divide the filling between the 4 rounds of pizza dough, placing the filling on one half of the dough, leaving a 1 inch border of bare dough. Fold the opposite end of the dough over the filling, and pinch together the edges well until there is a good seal. Brush the tops and seams with the melted unsalted butter and olive oil. Place on the overturned pan or the pizza stone in the preheated oven. Bake until nicely browned and crisp, about 15 minutes.
- Serve right away.