As a youngster I spent many happy summers in Northern Italy. My parents have always had something of a love affair with the country, more recently investing in a retirement home there, so it was always their holiday destination of choice. It was in Tuscany that I first tried calzone; confused by the concept I remember thinking of it as an Italian version of our Cornish pasty.
A thin pizza base, folded in half, spots scorched black on the outside. No sign of a basil leaf or a tomato anywhere, the calzone we’d devour were always stuffed with simplicity; mozzarella cheese and strips of thick-cut ham.
Nowadays you find them everywhere, but I still like to make them from time to time. Seasoned flour, olive oil, dried yeast and water make a dough which I knead for ten minutes. I’d quote measurements but it’s always a case of doing it by eye, if you start with half a kilo of flour you should end up with one calzone. Once that dough has had a chance to prove, knock it back, roll it into a circle about three millimetres thick and spoon your filling onto one side. Brush the circumference with a little water, fold to make a crescent shape and pleat the edges that meet.
Have your oven preheated as hot as it will go. Bake at that temperature for ten minutes and then lower the heat to gas mark six, continue baking until you get a hollow sound when you tap the bread and it looks golden brown on top.
I always accompany this with a cold, crisp lager or pilsner. Spritzy and bitter enough to cut fatty cheese, light enough to prevent the food from becoming overpowered. Try Brewdog 77 Lager or Meantime Pilsner (both available in English supermarkets).
Ingredients: 500g bread flour, salt, black pepper, 7g dried yeast, 1 tbsp olive oil. For the filling go with what takes your fancy: mozzarella and ham, tomato and mozzarella, four cheese, salami, anchovies etc.