By Amber Smith
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If the majority of take-out fans knew how easy it was to make pizza at home, I swear the entire vendor market would collapse and go into bankruptcy. The basic dough is a breeze to make ahead and even freezes well for a later date. All the other ingredients can be purchased at a low cost including the pizza sauce, or if you’re feeling up to it, it’s fairly easy to make your own. Most of the rest is prep work, like slicing the cheese and chopping the veggies.
Stromboli is quite similar to regular pizza or calzones, but is slightly different because it’s really more of a sandwich based on its contents and uses far less cheese and sauce (sometimes even no sauce at all). You can use any old combination of ingredients that you choose but just be sure not to use anything to moist or the seals won’t hold up and you’ll have a big ol’ mess with your filling oozing out all over the place.
BASIC PIZZA DOUGH
1 C warm (110 degrees F) water
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 C flour
1 tsp salt
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar, and 1 tablespoon oil and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is still slightly sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.
Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then top it with a kitchen towel and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (tip: a great trick to get a guaranteed rise is to set the oven to 200 until it reaches temp, turn it off and put the dough it to rise for an hour.
slices of black forest ham, pepperoni, salami and/or deli sub style meats
Italian sausage, casings removed and sautéed until cooked through
Provolone or Mozzarella slices
onion sliced very thin
Any or all of these toppings: green/black olives, banana peppers, green peppers, roasted tomatoes, raw chopped spinach, mushrooms, or just about anything that tickles your fancy
1 beaten egg mixed with a bit of water
sesame or poppy seeds
grated parmesan mixed with some dried parsley
Set the oven to 375, punch the dough down and divide it in half. Roll out each half to approx the size of a sheet of paper making sure the length is longer than the width – but not too thin or the filling will seep out in the oven. You might need to flour the counter a bit if the air is humid (ahem… Toronto for sure) but otherwise it should be ok to roll without it.
To fill, start with about 1-2 tsp of pizza sauce only and spread it around leaving an inch border all the way around. It shouldn’t cover the base completely or you’ve used too much. Now start layering the ingredients starting with the meat which should cover the pizza sauce, then the cheese, followed by the veggies and condiments (if using anything brined in a jar like olives or peppers, be sure to set them on a paper towel to dry off any excess moisture). Brush both the left and right side, plus the side farthest from you with egg wash and begin to fold the dough over itself similar to a jelly roll until you reach the opposite egg-washed side which you then pinch together to seal the seam. Fold each end under itself and pinch the seam together as well.
Place the log with the seam side down onto a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal (tip: cornmeal will prevent the stromboli from sticking which is why you will see a jar of it in every pizza joint from coast to coast) Cover it with saran wrap and a kitchen towel again, and let it rest for about 25 minutes for the last rise. Once you’re ready to bake it, brush the top with the egg-wash and sprinkle it with sesame or poppy seeds.
Bake for 20 minutes then take it out and brush the top with more egg-wash, sprinkle the parmesan/parsley mixture on and bake it a further 5 minutes until golden brown. You should rest it on a baking rack so the bottom doesn’t get soggy for about 20 minutes and the filling will set up enough to get nice even slices that don’t ooze. A serrated knife is a must for this step. Now dive in and toss that take-up number in the garbage!!