1 1/2 Cups - Warm Water (110° -115° F)
2 Tbsp. - Sugar
1 - 1/4 oz. Packet or 2 1/4 tsp. - Active Dry Yeast, (Fresh, not out-dated)
1 1/2 Tsp. - Salt
2 Tbsp. - Olive Oil
4 Cups - White, All Purpose Flour
Pour the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and package of yeast. Stir the mixture slowly until yeast and sugar are dissolved. Let sit to allow the mixture to "mature" for about ten minutes or so (this is important.) The mixture will begin to react; clouding and forming a foamy "head" on the surface of the mixture. Add the salt and olive oil and stir again to combine and dissolve the ingredients. Add 1 cup of flour and whisk in until dissolved, I use a KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook.) Add the second cup of flour and whisk it in. Add the 3rd cup of flour and combine. By now the dough mixture should be fairly thick. Add the last cup of flour, and if necessary, with your hands, begin to combine and knead the dough.
Remove the dough ball to a tabletop to knead it. You may need to add a dusting of flour from time to time to reduce the stickiness of the dough. Be patient, folding the dough ball in half and then quarters, over and over again for about 8 to 10 minutes, (or about 100 "cycles".) Kneading by hand is laborious, but very important. Better to over-knead than under-knead. You'll know you've done well when the ball no longer sticks to your hands. It will become a smoothly-textured ball slightly larger than a large grapefruit.
Coat the dough ball with a thin layer of olive oil, and place it in the bottom of a large mixing bowl which has also been coated on the inside with olive oil. Stretch a piece of kitchen film over the top of the bowl and set it in a warm place such an as unlit oven, (ambient temperature of 70°F to 80°F). Allow the dough to rise, undisturbed, for 60 to 75 minutes. The dough will have grown to at least twice its original size. Take the dough out of the bowl and cut in half with a knife. You now have two pizza dough balls, enough to make two (2) 12" deluxe pizzas. Take each raw dough portion and hand-mold them into balls. Press each dough ball flat to squeeze and release any air trapped inside. Form the portions back into balls, smoothing the outer surface and tucking each ball "into itself" from underneath, (like folding a sock into itself), before storing or going on with the next step.
If you wish to store the dough, by either freezing or refrigeration, you can place the dough balls in zip-lock bags. Squirt a little olive oil into each of the bags to keep the balls moist and pliable and to ease removal when ready for use. If you choose to freeze or refrigerate: the dough balls may continue to rise until they are substantially cooled down or frozen, which is OK as long as they don't break out of their bags. If they do, mold them back down into balls and re-bag them.
For calzones I use all of the dough, and cut the entire batch into eight equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, I roll out each piece into an oval about 8-10 inches long. Spread the filling longways into the middle of the oval-shaped dough, leaving a space on all sides, this space will be used to attach one side to the other when folding over.
For filling, use whatever you would like, whatever you like on pizza. Tonight I placed a line of pepperoni slices, small ham pieces, mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce (probably a couple of tablespoons.) Don't fill it too much or it will be hard to fold over and seal.
Lengthwise fold one side over the filling and to the other side of the dough. Press the rim of both pieces of dough together and slightly crimp it by rolling the edge over itself.
Place the calzones in a preheated 450 degree oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until nicely browned. I use a pizza stone for this type of baking. When using a stone, allow it to heat up in the oven for at least 15 minutes after the oven has heated up to 450 degrees. The stone is very hot, so be careful and use a spatula or other tool to avoid touching the stone.
If you have a very large stone, at least 16" diameter, use the entire batch of dough. Otherwise use the dough to make 2 pizzas.
Spread the dough out in a circle but do not put any toppings on it yet. Place on pizza stone for about 6 or 7 minutes in the oven at 450 degrees. It's tricky to get pizza dough onto a hot stone, but here is a trick. I spread the dough out on a separate pizza pan that has been oiled well, then sprinkled with corn meal. The dough slides off easier this way.
After pre-baking the dough, then I add toppings. Top any way that you like, be imaginative!