Why is it so important to do a tutorial on how to make Stromboli? It is a simple dish; roll out dough, layer ingredients, roll back up, bake. After many years of experience in making this, it isn’t always quite so simple. They can be overstuffed, over cooked, under cooked, doughy, greasy, salty blobs. Yesterday we discussed what a Stromboli was versus a Calzone or Panzaratti, but why chose the Stromboli to highlight? Stromboli can be served hot, warm, room temp, or cold. It travels well and is great for picnics or the lunch box. It feeds a crowd along side a big salad and is the perfect gift for a new neighbor, someone sick, or a mommy with a new baby. These are so very pretty and rustic along side a bowl of soup. So you can see I have a fondness for Stromboli. Read this entire post before making your own Stromboli.
Before you begin, preheat your oven to 375°, place a large baking stone on center rack.
I have used many doughs over the years and the one that stands out as the most delicious and convenient is the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day’s Master Recipe. This recipe will allow you to make 3 Stromboli. The above photo is the dough as soon as I made it and the picture below is two hours later. You may refrigerate your dough up to two weeks if you desire. This will allow you to make your Stromboli at a moment’s notice. I used mine right after that initial rise.
You are going to want to divide this dough into thirds. I have found it is easier to roll my dough out on parchment paper but this can be tricky as you do not want the dough to stick. Flour three pieces of parchment paper generously. If you think there is too much flour, you are wrong! Flour your hands and grab 1/3 of the dough from the container. It will be very sticky. Place on the pile of flour on the parchment. Add more flour to top and knead it in. It will take a couple of small additions of flour to keep it from sticking. Re-flour the parchment and let the dough rest while you work the other two dough balls.
You may do this on a floured counter top but I use the parchment to transfer the Stromboli in and out of the oven. As long as you flour the parchment as you would the counter top you will have no problem. By the time you get the third dough ball ready your first had rested enough to be rolled. You will not need this dough to rise but if you are using it from the refrigerator then is will need some time to come to room temperature before rolling. Simply follow the above procedure but cover with a towel until room temperature.
Roll your dough to a large rectangle, about 10×12 inches. I like to use a small pastry roller rather than a rolling pin. You will have better control this way. Do not roll the dough too thin, it still should be about 1/3-1/2 inch thick. Too thin and it will break. As you are rolling sprinkle the parchment with flour to prevent sticking. See all the flour I had used, it is everywhere!
Note- If you use a premade dough from Trader Joe’s, a pizzeria, or frozen, then you will not have to worry so much about using as much flour. The Artisan Bread in 5 is a wet dough and needs that special care, but it is the best!
FILLING YOUR STROMBOLI: SALAMI AND CHEESE
This first Stromboli is made with Genoa Salami and Provolone Cheese. Other fillings can be ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, roast beef and cheese but you will mostly find it done with the Italian meats. Pepperoni is good too but may I suggest you use turkey pepperoni as the regular is too greasy. You do not want to over stuff your Stromboli, it will break or be too heavy, salty and filling. The key is to keep it simple, the more you have in there the harder it will be for that inner dough to cook. Your Stromboli will be doughy and almost have the consistency of being steamed instead of baked. See the photo below? This is how the inside should look once baked; light and airy.
To fill, lay the cheese first, that will protect the outer surface of the Stromboli from getting to greasy. See how I’ve kept the filling on the lower part of the dough? This will make it roll better. I used 6 slices of provolone and 10 slices of salami. Keep the filling about an inch from the bottom and side edges. You may now sprinkle the filling with a little Italian seasoning or oregano if you desire, I used Penzeys’ Tuscan Sunset. Take that bottom one inch lip and roll it away from you over the filling.
Once you have sealed the seam, pinch the ends shut and fold up toward what will eventually be the bottom of the Stromboli; the seam side. Seal to bottom if you can. We have used so much flour to keep the dough from sticking that it will now give you trouble in sealing, just keep pinching it will be fine. You can see from some of the photos that my seams opened.
Turn your Stromboli over and using a sharp knife cut diagonal slits through the top layer of dough. This will vent the Stromboli while baking and reveal the filling, very pretty. If you do not vent you will have huge blow outs on the sides of the Stromboli during baking.
Here is a photo of one with egg wash, left, and one without, right. You decide. Also the one on the right was baked on a metal cookie sheet and not a hot stone, therefore the bottom seal did break. Click on the photo for a closer view.
Do be sure your rack is in the center and that you have preheated your oven to 375° at least 30 minutes, you want that stone good and hot. That hot stone will seal that bottom seam more quickly. Bake for 25-28 minutes until deep golden brown. And there it is. Beautiful.
FILLING YOUR STROMBOLI: SPINACH AND CHEESE
In a large pot over medium high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, add 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced, and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 pound baby spinach, few pinches of nutmeg, generous sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper, and 1 tsp. Kosher salt.
Let cool until ready to handle. Using a slotted spoon, spoon out onto 4 layers of paper towels. I find this easier than having to wash a dish towel. Plus I use fabric softener and don’t want that in my food.
Place 1 1/2 slices provolone in the middle of the dough, sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded Italian blend cheese, and place the spinach over the entire dough. Sprinkle with another 1/2 cup of the blended cheese. Spinach is more pliable than the salami to it can be put all over. I do not sprinkle my Spinach Stromboli with Penzeys or anything else. I like the spinach and garlic to shine. Roll as you did the Salami Stromboli. Bake the same as well- 375° for 25-28 minutes.
Note- You may use one box of frozen spinach in place of fresh spinach. Still cook it as stated above for flavor.
IMPORTANT STOMBOLI MAKING TIPS:
1. Not to sound like a broken record, do not over do the filling, this leaves the dough chewy.
2. Be sure your oven is preheated to 375°. Any hotter and the outside will brown too fast while the inside remains raw.
3. After removing from the oven, let the Stromboli rest for 10 minutes then cut with a serrated knife.
4. If you do choose to use vegetables then sauté until completely cooked first, drain very well and use sparingly. Meaning do not double up on the layers, spread it out evenly over the lower half of the dough.
5. If you do choose to use pepperoni, use sparingly, do not cover the entire dough with it and do not overlap. It gets very greasy and your dough will not cook properly, it will be dense. I recommend turkey pepperoni for the job.
6. Do not brush the inside of the dough with olive oil. It is too oily and will definitely not seal. If you want to brush a little on the outside prior to baking you may do so.
7. These freeze well either un-baked or baked. To freeze un-baked, do not apply egg wash, freeze on a tray for 3 hours, wrap very tightly with plastic wrap, then foil. To freeze baked, freeze on a tray for 3 hours, wrap in plastic wrap, then foil. Let defrost for 24 hours in refrigerator. If un-baked, bake as explained above. If already baked then place uncovered in 350° oven for about 20-25 minutes or until hot through. Freeze up to one year.
Now go make Stromboli this weekend. It takes a little practice but I don’t think anyone will mind.
Stromboli Part I: Interpretation