Pizza / Calzones

This recipe can be used for either pizza or calzones. When I have people over for calzones, I tend to make individual ones rather than one huge one - that way people can have what they want in theirs.

For 4

Ingredients

Dough:
2 Packages Yeast
1¼ - 1½ Cups Hot Water
¼ t Salt
2 T Brown Sugar
2½ - 3½ Cups Flour
2 T Olive Oil
Dash of Oregano and Basil
Corn Meal

Sauce:
1 (15 oz.) Can of Tomato Sauce
1 T Olive Oil
6 Cloves of Garlic, loosely chopped
1 T Oregano
2 T Basil
4 T Sugar
Dash of Red Pepper Flakes
Black Pepper
Salt

Topping Ideas:
Cheese (Parmesean, Mozzarella, etc.)
Spinach
Sliced Mushrooms
Sliced Peppers
Sausage
Pepperoni
Sliced Onion
Pineapple
Ham

Directions

You'll want to make your dough first. Start by putting the two packages of yeast, salt, and brown sugar in a decent size bowl. Pour in your hot water (it should be around 110° F, which, if you don't have a cooking thermometer, is pretty much tap water that is somewhat hot to the touch), stir with a fork, and set aside for about 10 minutes, to let the yeast become active.

After 10 minutes have gone by, pour in your olive oil flour. Start with around 2 cups of flour - you can always add more. And toss in a dash of basil and oregano. With your fork, mix the the ingredients together, adding more flour until you have a doughy consistency that holds together and isn't particularly sticky to the touch.

Toss some flour onto your counter, and plop your dough onto it. Get some flour on your hands, and start kneading the dough until it becomes nice and elastic (about 5 minutes). You're bound to need to put more flour down on your surface, as well as your hands. Once the dough is thoroughly kneaded, roll it into a ball. Rinse the bowl you started this whole procedure in, dry it out, and put around 2 T of olive oil in the bottom of it. Roll your dough in the olive oil, so as to prevent the dough from drying out, and cover the bowl with a towl and set aside to rise (45 minutes to an hour). If your kitchen isn't particularly warm, you can turn your oven on to 450° and set the bowl on the stove top (so as to get the residual heat from the stove). You'll want the over at that temperature anyway for cooking your pizza/calzones.

While your dough is rising, you can set about to making your sauce. Put all the ingredients into a stock pot, and put over a very low flame. You don't want to cook the sauce per se, rather you want to break down the sugars and release the flavor of the garlic and the spices. As the sauce begins to get hot (about 5 to 10 minutes), kill the heat and set your sauce aside.

Once your dough has risen for 45 minutes to an hour (it should have doubled in size in that time), you'll want to knead it down again and let it rise for another half-hour or so, again, covered.

If you haven't already done so, turn your oven to 450°. After your dough finishes it's second rising, throw some flour on your counter - it's time to assemble the pizza.

If you're making calzones, cut the ball of dough into 4 equal(ish) segments. Otherwise, leave whole. Regardless, you'll want to take your dough and with an open fist make a mound in the center of the dough (so that it looks like a doughy ski cap). Pick the dough up with your forefinger and thumb, and start turning it to stretch it out, pulling out. If you want to get fancy, this is where you can start tossing it up and catching it across the back of your knuckles. Don't worry if the dough tears a little bit - you can cinch it back together really easily (and if it completely falls apart, rework it into a ball and try again).

With your dough stretched out, sprinkle a little bit of corn meal onto a cookie sheet or a pizza stone. If you're making one big pizza, ladle some sauce into the center of the dough, and with expanding concentric circles, spread the sauce out with the bottom of your ladle (or spoon). If you're doing calzones, just spoon a little bit of sauce onto one half of each. Then just put all your toppings onto the pizza/calzones, finishing up with the cheese. If you're making pizza, now it's time to toss it into the oven. If it's calzones, you'll want to fold over the non-toppings covered side of the dough over the toppings, and with a fork press around the edges to seal it up, and poke a few holes in the top of each (and, if different people are having different ingredients, poke your holes loosely in their initials, to insure everyone gets what they ordered). And then toss them in the oven.

Your pizza/calzones should be done after around 20 - 25 minutes. You'll know the pizza is done when the crust is nice and golden brown around the edges, and your cheese is wonderfully melted. You'll know your calzones are done when the crust is golden brown, and sounds hollow when you lightly rap the back of your knuckle on the crust.

Enjoy!

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