I’ve been making pizzas for what seems like forever (since I was thirteen years old) but I’ve only in recent years been making Calzone pizzas. They have become, in a short space of time, my favourite way to eat a pizza. While it is true that it can feel like you’re getting half a pizza when it’s served up it isn’t really the case. It is the same size pizza, just folded in half. Calzone works particularly well with vegan pizza as it eliminates the dilemma of vegan cheese not melting (I solve this problem on flat pizzas with a spray of water onto the top before putting it in the oven). The steam created within the folded pizza melts the cheese perfectly.
You can oven-bake or pan-fry these pizzas. The recipe here suggests baking it in the oven, but you can do either with great success. All you need is a medium-hot pan and a little oil and the bread will rise and cook as it’s frying. Try it the way the recipe suggests first, then have a go at frying them next time.
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I’ve used a fairly standard vegan Bolognese recipe for the filling, using vegan mince, onions and peppers, which you can make a couple of days in advance if you like. You can even double up the Bolognese part of the recipe and keep half to serve with spaghetti on a different day. You can also just use your regular vegan pizza ingredients if you don’t fancy going to the effort with the Bolognese.
Serve these up at your next pizza event and your guests will be coming back for more.
What you need to make these Vegan Bolognese Calzone Pizzas:
Strong White Bread Flour:
Strong white bread flour has a higher protein count than regular plain flour, as does pasta flour. This is essentially a higher gluten content, which allows the dough to rise a lot better. While you can make these pizzas with regular plain flour, the stronger variety is much better.
I use dried yeast for all of my breadmaking, but I rehydrate it first in a little tepid water and some sugar. This allows the yeast to start working as soon as you mix it in and it also tells you whether or not the yeast is alive. I will show you how to do this in the instructions.
Avoid using cold water in breadmaking wherever you can. A little bit of hot water added to make it slightly warm will help the yeast do its work when you are mixing the dough. Cold water will essentially slow down the process. The way I do it is to fill a measuring jug up to the amount I need with cold water, then add a little hot water from the kettle until I get the temperature I’m looking for. After that I empty water out to get back to my required measurement.
I used frozen vegan mince for this recipe, but either fresh or frozen is fine. If vegan mince isn’t your thing, then try substituting with some lentils and some sweet potato, or butternut squash.
Using sundried tomatoes in your Bolognese gives it real depth. It’s like supercharging your flavours with just this one ingredient. All supermarkets sell sundried tomatoes in jars, and it’s always worth having a jar stored in your cupboard.
This is another great flavour enhancer for Italian cooking, and can be cheaper than using fresh basil. Morrison’s now sell a vegan pesto for £1, and my cupboard is never without it. A few tablespoons will give you an intense basil flavour without the expense of fresh.
You can use regular paprika if you prefer, but smoked once again gives the dish more depth. You might also want to experiment with other paprikas, such as Hungarian or Spanish, which are both superior to what you’ll get in the supermarket. This recipe makes 5 pizzas comfortably, but it’s easily stretched out to 6 if you have that many guests.
Vegan Bolognese Calzone Pizzas
For the Pizza Dough:
- 1 kg strong white bread flour
- 250 g semolina flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 750 ml tepid water
- 3 tsp (or 2 sachets) dried yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the Bolognese:
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium red onions sliced
- 1 large pepper diced
- 400 g vegan mince
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 10-12 sundried tomatoes and a little of their oil, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 100 g tomato puree
- 2 heaped tbsp vegan pesto jarred or homemade
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- ½ can water
- ½ tsp salt
- A dash black pepper
To Oven Bake:
- 250 g vegan cheese grated
- A little olive oil for brushing
- A sprinkle of sea salt
- A good sprinkle dried oregano
- First make the pizza dough. Place the 2 flours and the salt into a large mixing bowl and combine. Pour 50ml of the tepid water into a mug and mix in the dried yeast and sugar until you have a reasonably good blend (the yeast has a way of clumping on the spoon, so you won’t get it perfect). Leave this mixture to rest for 15 minutes, until you end up with about half a cup of foam (if this doesn’t happen, the yeast is probably dead and shouldn’t be used, as the bread won’t rise).
- Now make a well in the centre of your flour and pour in the yeast mix. Stir it in a little and then add the rest of the tepid water (you can hold some water back if you are concerned about it being too wet, but you should be able to use all of it without problems).
- Mix the dough with a table knife, until it all starts to clump together, then turn it out onto a floured surface and knead fully for about 10 minutes, until you have a soft and elastic dough.
- Clean out the mixing bowl and put the finished dough back in. Completely cover with the olive oil, then cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to prove for about 90 minutes (airing cupboards and next to radiators work well), until it has doubled in size.
- While the dough is proving, you can make the Bolognese. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and cook the onions and peppers for 5-6 minutes, until they have started to soften and brown at the edges. Add the vegan mince and cook for another 6-7 minutes, until it is cooked through, then put in the chopped garlic and the sundried tomatoes and give it a few minutes more, stirring throughout.
- Now you can add the rest of the Bolognese ingredients, bring to the boil and gently simmer for about 25 minutes, or until nearly all of the liquid has evaporated. Once you have reached this stage, turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool.
- Once the proving dough has doubled in size, take it back you your work top and knock all of the air back out of it. This process is called knocking back. Knead it again for a minute or so, and now you are ready to begin rolling it out into your pizzas.
- Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F.
- Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces and, on a floured surface, roll out one piece of dough, until you have a flat round approximately 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter and about 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) thick. A good dough will spring back as you roll it, so you will have to keep going to achieve the desired dimensions. Now place your rolled out dough onto a large oiled baking sheet and spoon a 5th of the Bolognese onto half of the dough. Sprinkle with 50g of the vegan grated cheese, then fold over the empty side of the dough so that it covers the Bolognese and you have a crescent shape that looks like a large pasty. Use your fingers to fold over the edges and seal them shut. Brush the top of the calzone with olive oil and then put 2 small slits in the top with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Now sprinkle over a good pinch of sea salt and dried oregano.
- Repeat this process for a 2nd pizza. You can cook them 2 or 4 at a time. If you have a large enough tray, you’ll be able to fit 2 calzones on one tray and then fit 2 trays in the oven. If you are doing it this way, remember to swap the trays over half-way through cooking to even them out. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the pizzas have risen and browned.
- You can prepare the next batch while the first are cooking, so that you can put them straight in after the first ones are done. Repeat this until you have the 5. If you are cooking for 4 or 6 people you will be able to make adjustments according to how many you have. Serve as soon as they are cooked, or reheat if required.
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